A Detailed Look at the Best Greens Superfood Powder Market in 2019
I’m not a health nut. I promise. I love too many foods and grew up too Midwestern to be a kale-munching, supplement-popping, calorie-counter.
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But as I’ve neared middle age, I’ve quickly realized that what I put into my body matters and has a real effect on how I feel each day. I had to care about why my digestion is off, and why my hair is thinner and my waist is thicker. I had to care about what foods make me sluggish.
As I started to research what could be causing symptoms, and as I talked to my doctor, the same thing kept popping up: nutrition. I kept ignoring it in search of faster fixes for my little aches, my slow days, and my lack of good sleep. But the more I read, the more it kept nagging me. My nutrition had everything to do with my overall health and I couldn’t deny it any longer.
I was ready to make some serious changes, and I couldn’t ignore all of the rave reviews and positive experiences people seem to have been having with green superfoods. I decided to dig deeper, which led me on my quest to find the best green superfood powder out there.
Where I Started With Green Superfoods
I read a couple of groundbreaking articles that highlighted why it’s so hard to eat right in America. First, our society eats a lot more different than we used to. Second, we eat food now that is different from what humans used to eat (1).
Between the abundance of having global foods locally and the economics of buying cheap, processed food, we’re making choices that are hurting us. When I decided to stop hurting myself, I started buying and eating food different.
I cut the amount of sugar I ate, and it helped. But not enough. Then I drank more water. That helped, but I still felt off.
Drinking more water and cutting down sugar, not so hard, right? If you are having a hard time with those steps, though, try adding quality nutrients that will keep you full and benefit your body. I added green superfood powder to my diet, and it was like flipping a switch, health-wise.
As we continue along this journey, you’ll see how this switch made such a major difference for me.
What Are Green Superfoods?
First, let’s start at the bottom.
Aptly named, a “superfood” is defined as “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.”
Yes, I quoted Merriam Webster. It’s a good definition. They should get credit.
Green superfoods are packed with vitamins, fatty acids, protein, fiber, and more. Our bodies don’t make micronutrients naturally, so we need to eat them.
Main nutrients required for extra health
- Vitamin A
Without the above micronutrients, a human body can die, or at the least, be impaired or unable to absorb other nutrients. Then we have micronutrients that help our bodies thrive: Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and C, and folic acid are all water-soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E, and K. (3)
The difference between water soluble and fat soluble is that fat soluble vitamins are stored in our bodies. Water soluble vitamins need to be replenished, whereas fat soluble vitamins need to be monitored so they don’t store up at unsafe levels.
Best superfoods for a good diet
In general, green superfoods provide us with all these micronutrients. Some of the most effective superfoods to include in your diet (or make sure are included in your green superfood powder) are:
Contains various essential vitamins, and helps the body produce glutathione, an antioxidant so crucial that every cell of our bodies has it. Kale also contains sulfur, a mineral helpful to alkalizing the system and promoting immunity.
A nutrient-dense seaweed that provides healthy sodium and supports the cardiovascular system.
One of the best sources of iron, which assists in mental acuity, spinach is related to beets and quinoa. It originated in Persia, but it’s mainly a US and China crop now. Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, eating spinach benefits eye health, has cancer-fighting properties, and helps combat high blood pressure.
Beets, and their roots, are a rich source of iron and other minerals and are easily digestible by design. Research has shown that this vegetable increases plasma nitrate levels and boosts physical performance in general, making it a favorite of athletes.
Packed with folic acid, potassium, magnesium, lutein and fiber, these gems are rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as B Group vitamins. They also contain almost the perfect amount of copper, manganese, and iron, and are loaded with antioxidants, which help protect your sight. Avocados also assist in antioxidant absorption from other nutrient sources.
An aquatic plant that can grow in fresh or saltwater, spirulina contains B Vitamins complex, iron, and copper. It is also 50 to 60% protein, making it an all-around winner in the world of superfoods.
A nutrient-dense algae, chlorella helps lower cholesterol and rid the body of toxins and supports a healthy cardiovascular system. In its natural state, it has a rigid outer wall that is not digestible. Taking it in a powdered supplement is the only way to reap the benefits of chlorella.
It helps the eliminate waste, kills harmful bacteria in the digestive system, and boosts immunity. Long known to provide a concentrated amount of nutrients, wheatgrass packs up the following:
- Amino acids
- Vitamins A, C, and E
The tender, young grass sprout of the well-known grain, barley grass contains more nutrients by weight than the barley itself. It has a dense number of vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll.
Full of Vitamin C-complex, like hesperidin and rutin, calcium and other nutrients needed to absorb Vitamin C. Much like orange and lemon peel, it’s a powerful green. Side note: Rose hips, also called rose haws or rose hep, is the fruit from a rose bush. The fruit shows up just after the bloom dies.
A deep root plant, alfalfa drives its roots into the ground upwards of 50 feet, drawing up valuable minerals and converting them to a soluble nutrient. Humans usually consume the more popular alfalfa sprouts (frequently seen on deli sandwiches and salads) and farm animals enjoy the delicacy of alfalfa in its whole form. The name, which comes from Arabic phrase “al-fac-facah” meaning “father of all foods” – and that’s far from surprising, considering how many nutrients it contains:
- B vitamin complex
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Folic Acid
Winter Cherry Root
Also called ashwagandha, this herb strengthens and rebuilds the body. It contains caffeic acid ethyl ester, a polyphenol that helps stop cell damage. Withanolides are also in winter cherry, which helps protect people from cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Builds and cleanses the blood, and rich in calcium and organic sodium, dandelion leaf is highly nutritious. It contains potent antioxidants, helps fight inflammation and control blood sugar. It is also a blood pressure aid, promotes a healthy liver, and may help reduce cholesterol.
Lemon and Orange Peel
These two have bioflavonoids and Vitamin C complex. Healthy in their natural form (and used for baking and cooking), when created into powder form, their antioxidant properties are concentrated.
Not only helps the body absorb calcium, but this Pacific Northwest native grass also contains high amounts of silica, which strengthens tooth enamel, hair, and nails.
Most often sourced from Nova Scotia, Dulse is a rich red seaweed that is not only fat-free and low carbohydrate, but rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
Daily Vegetable Intake and RDA
Every day, our bodies need specific nutrients to survive. The food pyramid is a logical place to start, but let’s go a little more in depth. The FDA says we need at least seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day. The University College of London has revised their recommendations to suggest at least ten servings daily is the optimum target to live a longer, healthier life. (4, 5)
What is a serving?
According to the American Heart Association, these are the general guidelines on quantities:
Vegetables: 1 cup equivalent of vegetables is 1 cup raw vegetable or vegetable juice or 2 cups leafy salad greens.
As an example, a cup of raw leafy vegetables or a baked potato should be about the size of a small fist. However, it’s best to check the exact quantities recommended for each recipe because they can widely vary depending on the ingredients you use.
What about fruits?
For fruits, things are a bit different. The general measurements are as following:
Fruits: 1 cup equivalent is 1 cup fruit or ½ cup of fruit juice (orange juice, etc.) or 1/3 cup of a fruit juice blend. (6)
If you consume two servings, your RDA will go up. While that’s fine with vitamins and minerals, you have to be vigilant at watching serving sizes on fats and calories.
Dr. Eric Berg doesn’t recommend seven servings of vegetables. He recommends 7 cups daily. Not just because of the micronutrients (although that’s a huge benefit), but because most people aren’t even aware of the specific nutrients that are beneficial to the body, so we wouldn’t know where to start.
For instance, when we consume sugar (natural or artificial), our body does one of two things: stores it as fat,or stores it as glycogen. Glycogen is stored in our muscles for later use. It is temporary, made expressly to be burned off later.
Potassium: the best secret to weight loss
Each glycogen molecule needs one potassium molecule to bind to it so that it can be burned off. If you don’t have enough potassium, that sugar becomes fat. And it may sound obvious, but fat is not simple to burn off.
Making sure you have enough potassium isn’t just good for losing weight or maintaining weight. It’s better for our liver (because it doesn’t have to process so much), our kidneys, and of course our heart. It’s easier on several systems to have a small supply of easy-to-expel glycogen, as opposed to stubborn fat. That’s just one micronutrient.
How many servings is good to get?
When reading recent standards around the world, the number of suggested micronutrient servings vary. Health Magazine Nutrition Editor Cynthia Sass says the recommended amount of 7 to 10 servings is just baseline. You should be getting more in daily. (7)
“If you eat fewer than four servings a day, it’s good to know that getting four may be enough to significantly reduce death risk,” says Sass. “But it’s important to strive for not just a longer life or lower death risk, but also a better quality of life while we’re living.”
In other words, if you want to live longer, eat the recommended five servings. If you want to live well, make sure you get more than the minimum amount.
Raw Vs. Cooked: Is There Healthy and Bad?
There have been plenty of studies done to help you decide if you should eat your nutrients raw or if prepared is just as healthy.
The basic idea is this: When you eat raw vegetables, your body works harder to burn calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, that’s a benefit. But if you’re adding more vegetables to your diet to be healthier (and good for you if that’s the case), then you don’t necessarily need to make your body work harder to convert food into nutrients.
Additionally, some water-soluble vitamins (such as B and C) may be lost when cooked. You still get some benefit from the food, but the micronutrients could be lost. Knowing which foods are best cooked, and which are best raw is tricky, so some nutritionists suggest if you’re in doubt, eat raw.
Keri Glassman, registered dietician, says whatever way you take in those micronutrients, do it.
“You can rest easy if you enjoy your veggies roasted over raw, and feel free to consume the ‘extra’ unknown calories in cooked veggies (there’s not enough of them to count). I recommend (and I aim) eating veggies both ways, mostly because prepping in a variety of ways helps you eat more of them!’ says Glassman. “So, get your veggies in the beginning at breakfast and straight through to dinner and don’t stress about the prep method (as long, of course, as they are not sitting in a pool of butter or cheese.)”
Minimum amount of micronutrients you need
The fact is, we need to eat our fruits and vegetables. Every day. Our bodies need a minimum amount of micronutrients daily. And those minimum amounts are:
- Calcium: 1,000 mg per day
- Fiber: 25 grams per day
- Magnesium: 310 to 320 mg per day
- Potassium: 4,700 mg per day
- Vitamin A: 2,310 IU per day
- Vitamin C: 75 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 15 mg per day
If you can get them from real, whole foods, that’s the goal. You can’t out-supplement proper nutrition. But micronutrients are great to add to anyone’s diet. Georgia Rounder, RD says greens powders, “can be a great way to pack in nutrition when you are short on time by mixing it into your morning smoothie. You can also sneak them into baked goods or a pancake recipe to add a nice, sneaky boost of vitamins and minerals!”
Something else to keep in mind: since it’s proven that we don’t eat enough of the foods that are best for us, using a superfood powder is an option that may not have occurred to you (it didn’t occur to me). It’s a simple answer to a massive problem in today’s society (8, 9).
Types of Green Micronutrients to Find in Superfoods
Some greens have specific benefits you may need. Or you may be looking for a product that contains a good mix of micronutrients. Most will have general benefits that work for everyone. Following, you’ll find the basic types of greens in most powders.
High in Vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E, and K, alfalfa grass contains more protein than most other plants. It also contains calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Because it can mimic estrogen, it should not be used by pregnant women who already have a different hormonal imbalance; also, if you’re at menopause, make sure to ask for advice before consuming this plant regularly. It can also cause sensitivity to sunlight for some, so that should be taken into account.
An excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and E, amino acids, iron, calcium, magnesium, and chlorophyll, wheatgrass has been a popular supplement due to its immunity-boosting properties. It kills harmful bacteria in the digestive system and rids the body of toxins. Something to note is that wheatgrass can sometimes cause nausea and constipation, so it’s best to monitor your symptoms after the first serving.
As an ancient staple, peoples from Greeks to Romans knew the benefits of both the grass and the grain. The alkalizing effects are incredibly beneficial and contain chlorophyll, a natural cleanser which helps counter the effects of processed food. It also helps the digestive system.
Though native to Europe and the Mediterranean, cruciferous vegetables have become a favorite global food due to their tasty and healthy elements. Containing high amounts of Vitamins A, C, and K, they also contain dietary fiber. They’re unique because they also include sulfur compounds, which have proven cancer-fighting properties.
Turnips, arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, watercress, and bok choy are among the cruciferous vegetables contained in green micronutrient powders.
When greens are fermented, they turn already nutritionally packed foods into a powerhouse by introducing beneficial bacteria, yeasts, molds, and other microorganisms. Taking too many can cause intestinal distress, though, so stay with the recommended serving size to reap the full benefits. Fermented foods of any kind create a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut, but the following are particularly beneficial:
- Cruciferous vegetables
When you’re thinking “green,” the ocean doesn’t necessarily pop up as an obvious source. But kelp, chlorella, and spirulina are great sources of organic sodium and provide nutrients of which most people aren’t aware. Microalgae and seaweed contain iron and essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to natural energy.
A word of caution: Because of marine greens high levels of iodine and natural sodium, if you have or still suffer from gout, or are diabetic, consult your doctor before adding them. Also, if you’re allergic to seafood or iodine, ask your doctor before taking a marine green micronutrient. High-quality marine greens cause virtually no side effects. But there is a small number of the public that should stick with terrestrial greens.
The idea of blending superfoods has been around for a while. But in the last couple of decades, they’ve exploded, thanks to the easy, scoop-able powders that give you all your daily micronutrients in one scoop. And the best green superfood powder comes packed with vitamins and nutrients, antioxidants, probiotic bacteria, and enzymes that aid in digestion.
A huge benefit of buying a blend is that no additional vitamins have been added. Land plant and marine-based powder blends are full of nutrition from whole foods sourced straight from the ground, tree, or sea. Be wary of products that claim they will cleanse your body. That’s the liver’s job, and no plant can do that.
However, micronutrient blends will introduce good bacteria to help the body cleanse itself. As is the case with all products with probiotic properties, use caution starting off, as you could have some intestinal issues until your body adapts.
Sourced from moringa trees, this powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage has been used in the sub-Himalayan areas for centuries. It’s been hailed as a cure for anemia, stomach and intestinal ulcers, heart problems, thyroid disorders, and a host of infections.
Moringa is also beneficial, because of its nutrient dense properties, for boosting the immune system and can even be prepared as a topical germ killer or astringent. Because the leaves retain most of the vitamins and minerals when dried, moringa is used to fight malnutrition in many parts of the world. Almost every part of the tree, from the pods to the leaves, contains nutrition.
Herbs & Fruits
Many superfood powders will add herbs to their blends for taste and extra antioxidant properties. Cinnamon and turmeric are natural anti-inflammatories, parsley and rose hips aid in digestion and extra antioxidant protection. Orange and lemon peel offer Vitamin C complexes that boost immunity and help reduce inflammation.
For everyday use, spirulina, kale, and moringa are must-haves in whatever powder you choose. They are part of broad-spectrum nutrition and offer most of the micronutrients your body needs.
Facts, Myths, and Side Effects of Green Superfood Powders
With all the attention superfoods have gotten for the last few years, there have been a few misconceptions made about how amazing or how dangerous they can be. The best green superfood powder reviews are trustworthy – but marketing can be a deceiving weapon! Let’s dispel a few myths and lay down a few realities before we continue along.
Spirulina increases satiety
While spirulina contains some protein and a little fat, it is the B vitamin complexes, beta-carotene, copper, and iron that make this particular superfood a good all-around supplement. But it does not make you feel full.
Per tablespoon of spirulina, there are 4 grams of protein, 11% of the RDA of Vitamin B1, 15% of the RDA of Vitamin B2, 4% of the RDA of Vitamin B3, 21% of the RDA of Copper, and 11% of the RDA of Iron. That makes it too beneficial to pass up.
Micronutrients are found in superfood powders
We’ve gone over many of the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients available in green superfoods. Even if you eat your full 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, adding superfoods to your diet is a good option to stay healthy.
Superfoods can replace multivitamins
While most powders are food-based, and food-based sources are bioavailable (which means the body recognizes them as food and absorbs them easily), they are not nutritionally complete. They should not replace meals or multivitamins but should be taken as a supplement to a healthy diet of whole foods, plenty of water, and multivitamins.
An alkaline body is best, and taking one single superfood will make me alkaline
Research does show that being too acidic is not good for our bodies. So, cutting foods that promote acidity is a good idea, as is adding foods that promote alkalinity.
But two things to keep in mind: if you allow your body to become too alkaline, that can be damaging; and secondly, your body regulates acidity on its own. Consuming a green superpower, a multivitamin, or an abundance of “alkaline-producing” foods can promote your body’s ability to adjust pH levels, and in general, you’ll be getting the benefits of nutrients in daily. Making sure your body has all the tools it needs to regulate and heal is your best bet (10).
Superfoods have been around ever since ancient civilizations, so it’s no wonder that there are plenty of myths surrounding them. The best way to make sure that you consume the right product the right way is to do your research and ask for a specialist’s advice.
Before You Buy: Quick Facts on The Ingredients List
While I believe the science shows why green superfood powders are beneficial, it is important to stress that not all superfoods are the same. When choosing a product, it isn’t a matter of fitting the budget. This is a matter of your health, so you have to do your research (the FDA doesn’t regulate claims by supplements, so due diligence is yours).
Unfortunately, some companies produce products that contain heavy metals and toxins you should avoid by all means. Aquatic greens can be easily grown in a clean environment, and when plant greens are sourced well, then toxins and heavy metals are not a big concern. In order to choose the best green superfood powder, there are a few guidelines to take into account.
Here are the most commonly encountered harmful ingredients you may see on the list:
These genetically modified ingredients (GMO) can seriously alter your glycemic levels – especially when consumed on the long run.
This ingredient is usually added to enhance the taste or texture of the product. The most common fillers are coconut flour and psyllium – both of which can lead to digestive issues such as bloating or constipation.
There are also companies that say their products taste great – and some do! However, some of those companies add hidden sweeteners, gums, and artificial colors.
Most dangerous ingredients:
These artificial sweeteners can cause headaches, unnecessary weight gain and different digestive problems including acid reflux and bloating.
However, ingredients aren’t all that matter for a high-quality product. Let’s have a look at the main preparation methods too.
Preparation and Extraction for The Best Superfood Powders
Companies choose different methods to extract micronutrients from plants for their products. Let’s take a look at the various processes and the pros and cons of each.
#1 Grind into a Powder
This one is pretty simple and straightforward. The entire plant is dried either naturally or by a machine and placed into a grinder until it is a powder. This is the “purest” form of powdered greens, but it’s on the bottom of the list as far as taste is concerned. It is also the bulkiest way to make a powder, and while it sounds better for a powder to be “pure”, it may not be as nutritionally rich or varied.
#2 Extract Juice
When extracting juice, the entire plant is pulverized, and the liquid is extracted while the rest of the plant is separated. The resulting juice is then dried and ground into powder. This results in a final product that is often sweeter than the whole plant powder. It absorbs quickly and, depending on how fibrous the plant is, it is usually more nutritious.
#3 Extract, Isolate, Dry
Extraction of a specific ingredient in a plant involves separating certain parts by mixing it with a solvent of some kind. The resulting portion of the plant is then condensed into a powder or liquid. After it is dried, it is ground into powder.
Using this method is best for blending plants that would taste odd together, or for plants that are bulky in size. Extracting the specific properties that are the best parts of the plants helps keep the nutrition intact through the drying process. And it makes room for other plants that are better ground whole.
While there are positives and negatives of each method, the latter process is the most effective for a very dense nutritional powder. It takes the very best of each plant and leaves plenty of room for more plants. And more plants mean more micronutrients, which is the goal.
The Powdered Green: Take Home Conclusions For Your Health
Nutrients are the most important aspect of any physical goal we may try to achieve. Each nutrient has a different impact on our health, energy levels, immunity and even our mood – and every detail matters.
In a fast-paced world where micronutrient deficiencies are extremely common, superfoods are a great way of making sure that you meet your physical needs. It’s important to create a healthy balance between superfoods (which are rich in highly-needed nutrients) and macronutrients that will ultimately lead to a complete diet.
Of course, choosing the right superfood powder wouldn’t be possible without taking care of a few criteria. From how many nutrients per serving it contains to the preparation method, it’s best to take your time in choosing the right product.
However, when you do find the best option, you will notice your life quality increase – and that’s exactly what we all wish for, isn’t it?