Greens powders can be a convenient, nutrient-packed supplement for the support of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Getting all of your daily greens has never been easier!
Let’s explore the interesting health benefits of these modern supplements. With several types of greens powder on the market, we’ll break it down and provide some top tips for choosing between them and how best to incorporate them into your diet.
But firstly, if you’ve never heard of ‘greens powder’, you’ll probably have one question —
What are greens powder supplements?
Greens powder (sometimes known as super greens, or greens drink) is a name for a type of dietary supplement which helps people to get the nutrition they would usually get from eating green foods.
These unique blends consist of multiple freeze-dried, dehydrated raw organic ingredients like green vegetables, grasses, algae and enzymes that help with digestion. Able to be added to water, they are an incredibly nutrient-dense, convenient powder supplement.
What are the health benefits of greens powder supplements?
As a relatively new type of product to the market, research that highlights the clear, direct benefits of greens powders isn’t abundant. That said, there are still some interesting findings relating to these supplements and their common ingredients.
- Antioxidant qualities— Research has shown us that greens supplements have statistically-significant antioxidant qualities, potentially decreasing the risk of chronic diseases that involve oxidative stress.
- Increased vitamin uptake — Some types of greens powders are from fermented sources, foods which have been shown to improve our bodies’ synthesis of nutrients and help to prevent cardiovascular disease. They break down compounds which can interfere with absorption of minerals.
- To boost immunity — Many types of greens powders contain significant amounts of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A has been scientifically proven to enhance immune function and our defences against infectious disease, whilst studies have also highlighted that vitamin C can help to prevent and treat infection.
Whilst the ideal source for your ‘greens’ is always whole and fresh food, because of their convenience, simplicity of use and wide nutrient profile, greens powders can make it easier for people to achieve their recommended intake of vitamins and minerals.
What are the best greens powder supplements?
There are many types of greens powders coming from a number of sources, each providing a different nutritional profile. When you’re choosing a greens powder supplement, the right one for you will depend on what you are looking for.
We’ve broken it down into three broad categories of the best types of green powder supplements — marine sources, grass sources and fermented greens.
1. Marine sources
Marine algae (water-based) sources of greens include spirulina, dulse and chlorella.
These types of green powders are very nutrient dense and often recommended in supplemental form for their health benefits. They are a superior source of chlorophyll — the all-important ingredient that makes green food ‘green’.
Marine powders are available on their own, but they do have a very strong algae taste, so they are often preferred when mixed in blends.
- Spirulina is a complete protein containing 60-70% protein, plus an excellent source of calcium, potassium, b-vitamins, vitamin A, magnesium, zinc and iron.
- Chlorella is also a great source of protein at 50-55%, as well as vitamin A, B-vitamins, magnesium, iron and zinc.
- Dulse is a rich source of vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, potassium, calcium, chromium, iron and magnesium.
If your primary concern is a nutrient dense greens powder with plenty of protein and don’t mind the strong taste, you might want to choose a marine-based greens powder.
2. Grass sources
Grasses — alfalfa, wheat, barley, rye and oat — have always been popular in green powders.
Greens powder from grass sources have excellent nutritional profiles, blend excellently with other ingredients and have a more subtle taste than algae. If palatability is a key concern for you, then you might want to explore these.
Grasses are grown above water and have a dry constitution compared to the wet constitution of algae.
- Wheat and barley grass contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B-vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
- Alfalfa is rich in vitamin K, zinc, copper, magnesium and vitamin C.
- Rye and oat grass have similar nutrient content to other grasses and they all are a good source of dietary fibre.
A reputable greens powder blend that incorporates some powerful grass sources is Udo's Choice Beyond Greens, a blend optimised to act as a complete nutritious supplement, covering protein, enzymes, vitamins and essential fatty acids.
3. Fermented greens sources
Whilst people have been fermenting vegetables for decades, the powdered form provides a unique, nutrient-dense powder compared to traditional greens.
Fermented foods are produced through controlled microbial growth. They act as prebiotics, helping to grow good bacteria within the gut flora. They also produce short chain fatty acids, which supports colon health and immune system health.
Fermented foods in powdered green blends are relatively new to the market, but recent research has already started to point towards some of their potential benefits.
The good bacteria used in the fermentation process helps to break down the fibrous cell walls of greens and vegetables used. This increases vitamin levels facilitates digestion — making greens powders sourced from fermented foods a superb choice for those who struggle with gas and bloating.
It can be helpful to think of fermentation as like pre-digestion, with the process providing nutrient enhancement and shelf-life preservation to the formula. With less chance of indigestion and better bioavailability of nutrients, fermented food is a win-win.
As well as containing certain microbes that improve brain health, fermented foods can amplify the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of our food, a mechanism accredited with improved mental wellbeing.
Scientists are interested in exploring the relationship between fermented foods and reducing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. With large-scale, in-depth research planned for completion in 2022, the signs look very good — initial studies have shown that kefir, a fermented dairy product, can reduce the severity of symptoms of IBD.
If digestive health, brain health and optimal nutrient absorption are particular concerns to you, then why not harness the power and convenience of fermented greens powder?
Organic? GMO-free? Vegan approved?
When choosing your greens powder, ensure your supplement is from a reputable manufacturer.
Not only will this assure you of its quality, but the product packaging will give a clue as to whether your greens powder is vegetarian or vegan friendly, organic, GMO, gluten or additive-free. Keep your eye out for key certificates!
The ingredients list will give a thorough — and hopefully reassuring — breakdown of any additives. Within the UK and the EU, if a product is certified as organic, all ingredients will be from non-GMO sources, safe from any artificial additives or preservatives.
Now you’ve chosen the perfect greens powder, you’ll want to begin incorporating it into your diet in a safe — and preferably tasty — way.
How to use green powders in your diet?
Many greens powders come with their own measuring spoon or scoop, making it simple to get the correct amount as per the packaging instructions — or you can just use a tablespoon.
They can easily be added to water, milk or milk substitutes. Some powders don’t have a great taste, so can be consumed with a tasty juice or a low-sugar smoothie.
If you’re looking for a more inventive way to get greens powders into your diet, you can even eat them instead. They can be easily added to scrambled eggs or an omelette, worked into a soup, sprinkled over your veggies, incorporated into a salad or mixed into a yoghurt.
Greens powder can make a superb, nutritious addition to your diet — but they shouldn’t be a replacement for eating your vegetables and fruit. It goes without saying, but follow the recommended intake listed on the packaging of your greens powder.
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