Ahhh, leafy greens. If you’re at all into health and feeling great, you absolutely cannot get enough of this life-giving food group. To feel our highest level of vitality and energy, adding more leafy greens to your diet is a powerful way to support that. They have amazing benefits, and having an abundance will help us feel better and better!
Why leafy greens?
Leafy greens are loaded with live phytochemicals and chlorophyll, the building blocks of life. And the greener the better!
Spinach is a widely available and accessible option that’s beneficial in many forms: cooked, juiced, blended or eaten raw. I encourage eating it both raw and cooked to obtain and assimilate its nutrients in the most effective ways.
And of course, kale has been the champion green of the past few years, earning a decidedly hipster popularity in restaurants, juice bars and homes all over the world.
Lookout! There’s a new leafy green superfood you may not have heard of yet. And its nutritional profile blows spinach and kale out of the water.
Enter… the ashitaba plant.
Ashitaba is a large, green herb that originated in central Japan, and has been used there medicinally for centuries due to its almost magical properties. The magical association comes from the fact that ashitaba is a regenerative plant; if you cut a leaf from the stem, a new one will appear around a day later. Hence the meaning of its name, “tomorrow’s leaf”.
When we eat a plant– or any food for that matter- we take in its energy, and it becomes assimilated into our own. Imagine eating ashitaba, that regenerates so quickly and amazingly effectively! It is very supportive to our own rejuvenation, which makes it a very magical food.
You can find ashitaba all over the place in teas and food products in Japan, and now the excitement about this miracle herb is rising in the West. Some have even labelled it “the new green tea.” However, without the caffeine that green tea has!! Which I am happy about.
Don’t feel the need to travel all the way to Asia to reap the benefits of this trendy supergreen. (Test out this green smoothie recipe for another tasty way to eat your greens).
Thanks to global eCommerce and a handful of dedicated, domestic gardeners, you can get your hands on ashitaba with the click of a mouse. Follow along to find out why adding this amazing plant to your diet is a no-brainer.
What is ashitaba?
The ashitaba plant is a self-regenerating herb hailing from Asia with deep roots in ancient medicinal practice. Its leaves can be eaten raw, in small amounts, by themselves or as a garnish in soups and salads. The most popular way to consume the leaves is dried in teas or powders.
Ashitaba contains an impressive amount of B vitamins and antioxidants. It’s also loaded with calcium, iron and potassium. It boasts significantly more of these vitamins per serving than spinach and even beloved kale. Ashitaba contains more that these other greens in niacin, vitamin K, fiber and vitamin E content.
Ashitaba also contains yellow sap, which consists of powerful chemicals called chalcones. Chalcones are now being studied for their anti-cancer properties. These chemicals are partially responsible for the healing medicinal effects experienced by consumers worldwide.
Leafy greens in general are great nutritional aids to your cardiovascular health. And ashitaba in particular possesses biological mechanisms that strengthen and stimulate red blood cell count. Regular intake is correlated with lower cholesterol levels and healthy blood pressure readings.
Ashitaba promotes digestive health, and treats an array of issues associated with an unhealthy gut. (For the #1 tip for a healthy gut check out this vlog post). It has been used in Japan for centuries to treat GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), and soothe both occasional heartburn as well as acid reflux.
Regular consumption of its high fiber content keeps you regular, warding off constipation and bloating. While evidence does not yet prove a direct effect on the gut microbiome, secondary healing of unhealthy gut issues points to ashitaba being a positive nutritional supplement for beneficial bacteria, or probiotics.
To echo the above section, if a food or supplement is good for your gut, it will benefit your overall immune system. The immune system “lives” in the gut and cannot function properly in an unbalanced bacterial ecosystem.
Ashitaba promotes immune health through its helpful effects on the gut. Additionally, this magic herb has anti-inflammatory properties similar to turmeric (more about all those benefits here), which give immune function a huge boost.
It doesn’t stop there! Ashitaba is also anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. To boot, it may be a powerful cancer fighter. Studies are still in their infancy, but the chalcones present in ashitaba sap have been shown to prevent cellular damage by free radicals. This herb could very well become the natural cancer treatment of the future.
The ashitaba plant is not a weight loss fad. There is actually substantiated evidence that it is a highly effective, natural weight loss supplement. Again, the magical chalcones are presumed responsible for the findings.
In a double-blind study, 26 moderately obese men and women aged 25-30 were given 200 milligrams of pure ashitaba powder daily for eight weeks. No other changes were made to the individuals’ diet and exercise routine.
At the end of the period, researchers reported the vast majority not only lost weight, but also experienced a significant reduction in harmful belly fat. Wow!
How YOU Can Incorporate Ashitaba into Your Diet!
There’s three principle ways to consume ashitaba:
1 – Eat or juice the raw leaves
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to get your hands on fresh ashitaba leaves. Check out a local Asian market. Another option is to grow your own at home. Apparently, the plant is fairly easy to maintain provided you purchase a mature plant.
Gardeners in Southern California have had great success and many sell their plants online. Just be sure to do your research that the grower doesn’t use pesticides, is certified organic, etc. when looking up ashitaba plants for sale.
2 – Drink tea
If you live near an Asian market, check them out for ashitaba tea, made from the dried leaves of the plant. If not, find a reputable tea source online.
The tea industry is notorious for using pesticides and other unpleasant methods to yield large harvests, particularly in Asia, so do your due diligence and look for those non-GMO and organic seals of approval.
3 – Ashitaba powder for smoothies and supplements
The easiest and most popular way to get your daily ashitaba intake is in powder form. You can blend the powder into your favorite power protein smoothie or acai bowl (this chocolate ginger beauty bowl is amazing!).
If you don’t mind the taste, simply mix it in water. There are also supplements available in pill form that contain a concentrated form of the powder. Either way, get to know your supplier to ensure ingredient purity and quality.
Ashitaba may be the kale of 2018 (or 2019, sometimes it takes time for trends to catch on!). Or maybe it will be our little “secret” within our community! Either way, it’s amazing you are reading this right now, and learning about ashitaba now.
I am beyond impressed with the regenerative, vitality-boosting benefits of ashitaba, whose benefits target nearly every major health issue, even weight loss. (Of course, a great yoga flow helps, too!).
This superfood has a nutritional profile that is out of this world. It’s no wonder it was thought to have magical properties back in the day.
Time to try this leafy green in your own body!
In love and health,