Super Greens Powder Supplements – My Definitive Guide (All Your Need to Know)41 min read
Since I first drank a super greens smoothie in my local café; I’ve been trying to figure out, tastier and more interesting ways of getting my five a day.
So, really what are super greens powder supplements?
Super greens and green powder supplements are marketed as energy dense and a nutritious way of getting improving your health quickly.
So like most people, the thought of getting all my veg’s in less than a minute each day was very appealing.
What was most encouraging was not having to stress about the number of veg of fruit portions I have daily.
Really does anyone know what 5 a day really means?
Sure I know what 5 means and I know what Fruit and Veg mean – but 5 a day? 5 apples or 5 oranges is that 5 a day? 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 pear, 1 pea, 1 bean?
I of course know that 1 pea doesn’t count but is it 10 or 50? So many questions!
So a drink that ticked all the boxes, this was the silver bullet for me.
Deep down, we all know greens are good for us, even my Granddad who was a two bacon sandwiches a day man knew this. But I first took notice when Tim Ferriss endorsed Athletic Greens on his blog.
So “Super Keen” for ways of making “Green Powder Supplements” my daily staple had me searching everywhere for “super greens” that were perfect for me?
I would therefore implore you to join me on my super green journey.
Super Safe or a Super Scam – The truth about greens powder supplements.
Super Green Powders & Capsules, a health food fad or the healthy option?
It’s difficult to ignore the health market nowadays in 2016 and the UK alone it was worth a staggering £1.2 billion.
Appearing on the market in the mid 2000’s, Super Greens were marketed as like Vitamins on steroids. More accurately it’s probably better to say that Vitamins are so 1990s and that Super Greens are the new breed of health supplements!
And even just a few years ago, you would need to visit a specialist store to buy super greens.
A quick check of Google trends shows the growth in popularity.
But green powder supplements are still nowhere near as popular as other supplements, such as diet pills.
They’re here to stay and are the vitamin supplements of the 21st century.
Green Powder Drinks for Lazy Juicers?
If you juice, you have to buy fresh veggies, wash and prepare them, chop them, juice and then clean up after yourself, a good twenty minutes out of your day.
Whilst this is certainly the most effective way to get your daily greens, the novelty soon wears off. Now compare the fuss and the time it takes to make a fresh juice against pouring two scoops into a glass of water, you can see the appeal of buying in a powdered form.
Of course if you’re fanatical about ensuring you get the most nutritious veggie juice every morning, then you may have the motivation to juice, but remember this is only true if you buy the freshest produce.
It wasn’t for me, I tried juicing but gave up after one month. I hated the prep work, the clean up, the angry wife, the kids demanding their own drink. The convenience of the powder was just too difficult to ignore.
From now on it’s a powdered green supplement for me.
However, it’s not just ease of use, it’s also the practicality, when I travel, it’s easy to take a green powder supplement with me, have you ever tried taking your juicer with you?
Why use Super Greens?
Whilst the daily recommended portion size of fruit and vegetables is in question. The link between eating fruit and vegetables for promoting a healthy longer life is well established.
If you’re eating lots of vegetables, fruit and have a mixed diet – do you really need to drink a daily Super Greens Juice?
Well most probably not! But the fact is most of us simply don’t eat enough fruit and veg on a daily basis.
Sure every Wednesday we may eat more veg, but healthy eating once a week, is “Not Healthy Eating”
Do you? I know I didn’t!
The US Government recommend that adults eat about 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. Source: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate
In a report by the NHS (US BASED) in 2017 only one in four adults ate 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/30/just-one-four-adults-eating-five-day-nhs-reveals/
10 per day! You can bet that the stats for 10 per day are even more shocking.
Deep down, we all know that if you’re not eating enough daily veggies the risk of deeply unpleasant long-term disease is considerably higher.
So why are we not eating enough fruit and veg?
Many reasons, in the good old bad days, meat was expensive and fresh veg was easy to find. Most streets had a “Fruit and Veg” shop and then the world changed. Supermarkets, Fast Food, Fast everything else, better pay and a restaurant on every corner arrived.
The pressure of modern life means that for many of us, life can be hectic, so ensuring you’re consuming 5 plus portions of fruit and veg on the go can be very challenging.
For me it was certainly habit mixed with poor choices, with eating out being the biggest problem.
I was lucky my wife is super healthy, we always get our veggies when she cooks, but left to my own cooking devices, I’m more a Roti Canai man (see picture – it’s tastier than it looks!), whilst delicious it’s hardly low in fat.
Living in Malaysia where eating out is a national pastime, the food is amazing but good tasty food often comes with a hefty price.
Fried food and curries are tasty but hardly top of the healthy eating guide.
Should Super Greens be a replacement for a healthy?
We all know the answer to this is NO.
Super Greens vs Multivitamins
Multi-vitamins had the monopoly as the “GO TO” supplement when feeling run down or sick.
Whilst you can get all your micronutrients with a household multivitamin, there are now healthier ways to get your micronutrients.
Unlike multi-vitamins, Super Greens contain more than your typical trace vitamins and minerals.
So what do Greens Supplements offer over Multi-vitamins?
All greens powders should contain beneficial phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidents, which are often found in plant-based foods, these are essential for keeping you alive and healthy.
Often there are abundant supply of other superfoods too.
Spirulina, Gogi Berries, to name but a few, not only contain a good range of vitamins and minerals but contain carbs, proteins and fats that are essential for healthy living.
I have been taking a multi-vitamin for months now as a health insurance top up.
However, I would rather consume a Greens drink in the morning that’s packed with vitamins as I am not keen on popping lots of pills every day.
Benefits of Super Greens
So, are super greens good for you?
There is a lot of evidence that taking a good quality Super Greens supplement can be beneficial to health.
So much so that the long list of super green benefits may lead you to think this is somewhat an elixir powder and the answer to your health needs!
Whilst there is some science to support some of the claims made, I found a number to be tenuous. What I want to do is unravel the exaggerated claims made by some Super Greens products.
At the end of each benefit I sum up whether I believe the evidence is compelling or not ✝. To make it easier, I have color coded them too, which should be fairly clear.
Let’s take a look at the commonly reported Super Greens benefits:
1. Detoxing your body
We often hear the words “detox” and “cleanse” used to describe giving your body a healthy overhaul. But what does “detox” actually mean?
The body does this naturally to neutralize, transform or get rid of unwanted materials or toxins and is normally the job of your liver – not supplements in capsules or powders.
Most scientists and medics dismiss the practice of detoxing, saying that there is no such thing.
So will a Super Greens supplement that claims to detox your body do anything?
Very unlikely considering the science fails to support detoxing claims in general.
I take the meaning of “detox” to be more about changing diet habits for a period of time. This is used to avoid processed foods, no alcohol and to eat clean unprocessed food. Whilst there are lots of so called detox products and diets on the market, I have only tried one and used this detox diet plan to eat cleanly for 28 days.
2. Alkalanize the body
Like most people I didn’t know that processed foods can change your body’s PH making your blood more acidic.
An acidic body has been shown to encourage diseases, such as cancer, but also other long-term conditions, such as low energy, brain fog, acne, joint pain, tiredness etc.
An acidic environment within the body can play a role in a number of diseases and could lead to the leaching of calcium from bones, promoting kidney stones and osteoporosis,” says Brendan Brazier, the author of Thrive Foods.
In contrast a more alkaline environment is beneficial to health and can counteract some of the conditions outlined above.
This really interests me as my immune system has been poor and I’ve often experienced colds and flu like symptoms.
Could it simply be my diet is too acidic?
If a balanced pH supports the body’s natural ability to achieve optimum health then I am definitely keen to give this a try.
You can see a list of common foods listed according to an index called PRAL, which means Potential Renal Acid Load”. A great article on Yuri Elkaim’s blog.
3. Anti-inflammatory properties (Need More)
As I’ve said before, a diet rich in anti-oxidants can help reduce the number of damaging free radicals in your body.
I was not entirely sure what was meant by frequent references to inflammation and found this article on Medical News today to be very interesting.
It’s now recognized both clinically and scientifically that chronic inflammation in the body leads to cell, tissue and organ degeneration, and is thus implemented in all diseases,”says Michael B. Wald, MD, PhD, ND, director of nutritional services at Integrated Medicine & Nutrition in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Whilst searching, I found a very interesting link between inflammation and the role it plays with Chronic Fatigue – Which I have suffered from since my teens and I may still have the effects of after severe overtraining many years ago (see my about page for more information)
The article by Healthline suggests trying an anti-inflammatory diet to combat the effects of inflammatory foods like sugar, fried foods and processed meat.
4. Super Greens to be Super Slim?
Do super greens help you lose and maintain a healthy weight?
Some of the popular ingredients found in Super Greens have been shown to curb food cravings and so reduce appetite. This means you’re less likely to reach for the sugary snacks between meals or in the evening.
This is a real plus as I struggle with the evening snacking big time!
For example, Cocoa powder has shown to help curb feelings of fullness (Satiety), fight inflammation and has an thermogenic effect and so will increase metabolism.
Many greens contain lots of B Vitamins, which help the body metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Lastly taking Super Greens will help you manage and lose weight, Super Greens are extremely high in fibre.
Consuming a good amount of fibre helps to accelerates food transportation though the body – basically you have regular and healthy stools as well as helping you feel full.
A fibre-rich diet also helps to protect against diabetes – see below.
5. Improved digestive health
Having efficient digestion reduces the chances of feeling bloated with trapped gas as well as the build-up of toxins.
Many super green powders contain digestive enzymes, the argument for including them is that they can help with food breakdown making them easier to be absorbed. The further argument is, what’s the point in taking the time to eat well if you’re not absorbing those healthy nutrients?
The effectiveness of digestive enzymes in supplements has been called into question and it may not be as simple as it’s made out.
Some of them are clearly beneficial, in certain situations, but enzyme supplements are also often used in situations where there is little evidence that they do any good,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
It seems that some gut problems can be addressed by digestive enzymes supplements and those maybe found in Super Greens.
For other common gut problems, like heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome, there is little evidence that digestive enzymes are helpful.
6. Reduce and manage diabetes (Type 2)
Now we’re not talking about Type I diabetes here as this happens when your immune system destroys beta cells in your pancreas, thus inhibiting insulin release.
Some Greens supplement claim you can reduce or manage Type II diabetes, which occurs when your body becomes insensitive to insulin (often called insulin resistance).
Diabetes is dangerous for health as it means your blood glucose level can reach dangerously high levels if not kept in check by insulin released from your pancreas.
Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help to slowly raise blood sugar levels whilst helping you to feel fuller.
Low GI foods include common Super Greens ingredients, such as; Spinach, Ginger, Chia Seeds and Cinnanon.
Check out article by MedicalNewstoday for a list of 10 diabetes superfoods.
Other ingredients in Super Greens can also assist in managing blood glucose imbalances, such as Magnesium, ALA omega-3 fatty acid, and polyphenols.
7. Cancer preventing (Anti-Carcinogenic)
This is one of the strongest claims made by some Greens supplements.
Super Greens are packed full of anti-oxidents, the scientific evidence on how anti-oxidents work with regards to Free Radicals and their role in damaging healthy cells and cancerous mutations isn’t under question.
But the question of cancer prevention is not conclusive as a single free radical can damage a cell and therefore it’s more a question of stats. If you reduce the number of free radicals you limit your chances, but don’t eradicate them completely.
A daily shot of greens can provide an arsenal of phytonutrient antioxidants to help neutralize these free radicals, thus preventing cell disruption,”says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association.
Foods that are popular in “anti-cancer diets” include spinach, kale, parsley, arugula etc… essentially the leafy greens.
It’s important to know that the research currently on the benefits of taking antioxidants in food or supplements can protect against disease.
8. Improved immune function
Super Greens are branded as excellent immune system boosters that can keep you healthy every day warding off infections.
Antioxidants are quoted as being the mechanism for providing this improved immune system response.
However, whilst a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals are essential for health they won’t necessarily make you less likely to get ill.
An excellent article in the Guardian, by Professor Charles Bangham (NICE) is quoted as saying:
If a supplement actually stimulated the innate immune response then it would leave you with a constant feeling of being unwell, with a fever, a snotty nose, depression and lethargy without any obvious benefit. So in that respect, the whole idea is a bit of a con.”Charles Bangham
So, whilst anyone eating a poor, nutrient lacking diet and took an “immune” boosting over the counter supplement, their immune function is likely to improve.
In contrast anyone eating a normal diet won’t necessary experience much if any change.
9. Increased energy levels
Super Greens contain ingredients rich in phytonutrients and enzymes that can promote increased energy and stamina.
Ensuring you have the recommend daily intake of fat-soluble Vitamin B’s too ensure you can metabolise energy when needed.
Lack of energy is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency.
One of the easiest solutions is to eat iron rich foods, some of which can be found in Super Greens, such as spinach and kale.
10. Super Charging your brain
The area of Nootropics is fascinating and I have tried a few supplements in the past.
Personally, I didn’t experience much change and didn’t notice any massive brain gain!
Friends helpfully said there was little hope for me anyway 😉
I was interested to discover that a number of Super Greens, claim mental improvements by taking their supplement.
Some of the ingredients are reported to help to trigger clearer and faster thinking with an overall better focus.
For example, Magnesium a mineral deficient in many western diets, can help turn glucose into energy and also regulates brain receptors needed for memory and learning.
Having improved energy levels also goes hand in hand with better mental health.
There are a number of great nootropics supplements already on the market, but a Super Greens supplement that had nootropic benefits would be a real bonus and one that certainly appeals to me.
11. Anti-aging (Explore what antiaging means)
Most of the anti-aging claims centre around the benefits of antioxidant properties contained within many Super Green ingredients.
Many of the nutrients contain concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals and anti-oxidents, which are known to have anti-aging properties.
High vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein present in dark greens in particular, researchers have said these influence the anti-aging effect.
However the study below focused mainly on cognitive function suggesting that “one serving of leafy greens per day may slow brain aging by 11 years”.
Another ingredient Chlorella which is a green algae and a powerful detoxifier which may slow down the aging process by reducing the free radical damage in the body that can cause premature aging.
12. Super Greens for Super Skin
There are some greens that have been linked to heathy looking and “youthful” skin.
One example is Spirulina it is suggested it removes heavy metals and toxins from your skin.
Another favourite Wheatgrass, has natural anti-aging properties which the claims suggest can rejuvenate the cells, thereby slowing down the aging process. It is also suggested that it will help to maintain skin elasticity, which is all part of looking youthful.
It seems that some superfood ingredients (like broccoli and Brussel sprouts) can improve blood circulation and coagulation, which can help with reducing skin inflammation and acne breakouts.
Thankfully it’s been sometime since I suffered from acne – however we have all been there and know how embarrassing and frustrating this can be.
Whilst researching the benefits of super greens and skin care I stumbled across what appears to be a new trend with the growth of Superfood skin-care products.
This isn’t really my thing, but if it is then you can check out this article on Allure.
The beauty of dark greens could well be, improved skin glow, for me this is less important than other health properties.
13. Increased Sex Drive
Yes, incredibly some Greens Supplement powders claim to increase your libido.
Sounds wonderful to me!
Now that I am in my mid-forties I wouldn’t say no to something that gives me a little boost now and then!
I think by now, we all know about “the little blue pill” giving your libido a nice nudge in the right direction.
But what is the evidence for your little green drink increasing your sex drive?
Well some evidence suggests that one known ingredient has been dubbed natures Viagra, namely Maca or Peruvian ginseng.
As well as helping to combat erectile dysfunction (not there yet!), Maca’s benefits include enhanced sex drive, better fertility, increased sperm count and testosterone levels.
This is great for guys, but there are reported benefits for woman too, in the relief from PMS symptoms and the menopause.
All this sounds great and just what the young 40 old me could do with, now and again mind you.
Is Super Greens a Meal Replacement?
Super Greens are not the same as meal replacement protein drinks.
It’s easy to see why though.
With all these amazing benefits why can’t Greens be a meal replacement?
You could well get all your micronutrients in one drink, but you’ll be missing your macro nutrients of carbs, protein and fats.
Consuming one glass of Greens Powder will unlikely fill you up – making it a poor meal replacement.
What do Super Greens Poweders really taste like?
Reading through some of the verified Super Greens reviews online and one topic regularly comes up – that is the issue of taste.
It’s a fact that many of the top selling greens supplements are shocking in terms of taste.
Some of them really do taste truly awful – imagine finely chopped grass with water!
This can be one of the main reasons’ consumers go back to juicing or give up entirely with Super Greens.
Even with using great sounding flavors like Apple Pie, Berry and Chocolate (erm why? don’t get this one), they can’t mask the poor taste of the supplement.
For some people it may take some getting used to, especially if you’re a first-time user.
Green powder drinks taste very different from other powdered supplements like whey protein and pre or post workout.
I want a good greens product that tastes palatable on its own.
This way I know when I am away from home I don’t need to worry about taking any other supplement, just to mask the taste.
If I choose to mix with a smoothie or protein supplement, then it should taste great.
How to make Super Greens Taste Better?
If you’re trying an unflavoured greens powder, then you have many more options.
You can easily mix your powder into another drink or combine other ingredients to make it tastier.
Some great tips can be found on Yuri Elkaim’s blog.
Super Food Health Terminology Explained
What do all those fancy looking icons really mean?
When first checkout out these supplements I soon saw a number of “health” badges and wasn’t immediately sure what they all meant, more importantly the significance of these.
Some are obvious, such as “organic”, others aren’t so and I outlined them below .
If you stumble across any others that I have missed, please do give me a shout here.
Is ORAC relevant?
When the Super Food craze hit the supplement market much was made of the so called ORAC rating.
What is the ORAC rating I hear you say?
Well ORAC is short for Oxygen Radiance Absorption Capacity and was created by USDA scientists in an effort to quantify the antioxidant capacity of foods.
This rating gave food substances an antioxidant scale you could rate one over another.
It was common place, it still is now to a lesser extent, to find the latest Super Fruit supplement quoting their ORAC rating to enhance their supposed effectiveness.
As you can imagine when the marketing gurus found this, you started to see massive ORAC claims in the media.
This has changed now as the ORAC rating has fallen out of favour.
The number one reason is due to its misuse.
ORAC values are routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products and by consumers to guide their food and dietary supplement choices.The USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory
So if you see a Super Green, or any other supplement actually, quoting ORAC figures we would disregard it. In fact, maybe even be dubious about the product you’re seeing this on too!
Does Science Support the Greens Powder Supplement Claims?
Here is the thing, the elephant in the room for the supplement industry.
Many of the claims made by brands use pseudo-science or fake science.
To fully understand what’s going on behind the supplement label it’s important to cut through the marketing hype.
The bottom line is your Super Greens supplement will only be as good as the quality ingredients and amounts contained inside.
Scientific studies are often quoted alongside supplement claims that cannot be taken at face value.
The problem is that the ingredient amounts within supplements are typically lower than what’s needed to exert a similar effect quoted in some research papers.
This is why ANY supplement be it a Super Green, fat burner or protein powder, that uses a Proprietary blend is bad news – You can NEVER tell if the ingredient quantity is ENOUGH.
The easiest way to demonstrate this is to look at one popular Super Green ingredient found in many brands – Spirulina.
Checking the science for Spirulina on Examine reveals you need between 1-8g per day for any noticeable benefit.
That’s a fairly hefty amount considering some of the Greens powder (not even looking at the capsule versions) I looked at had a serving size of 3-5g per day.
This is the fun bit.
Let’s check out three popular Super Greens on the market that actually reveal the quantity of Spirulina in their formula:
Clearly these Super Greens products despite promoting Spirulina they just don’t have enough!
Quickly looking at a Super Greens capsules product, Elite Super Greens. The Spirulina dose is pitiful at an incredibly low 90mg per capsule!
Just to even more fun let’s check out five of the Super Greens with proprietary blends (hidden ingredient quantities):
Considering there are 15 ingredients in this proprietary blend, what are the chances that Spirulina is over 1g?
Again, a whopping 23 ingredients in this blend with Spirulina being number 5 in the list.
Strong Greens Superfood
11 ingredients in this blend with Spirulina being way down at number 8 in the list.
The simple fact is DON’T BE FOOLED by fancy sounding pseudo-scientific blends – they are hiding the supplements effectiveness.
On a final note, as I discussed in our Super Greens Benefits above, some of the claims are tenuous whilst others are just plain wrong.
When to take Super Greens?
I was curious to find out whether there was an optimum time with which to take my Super Greens.
Most of the advice suggests in the morning as a great wake up drink. But can you take your greens powder any time of the day?
Well in most cases you’re probably be okay taking anytime.
The caveat is if you regularly workout, in this case it’s best to avoid drinking your greens immediately before or after training.
In any case you want to be loading up on other key nutrients around training, such as protein.
Most people seem to like taking it in the morning – I will most likely make this part of my early morning routine as well.
Can you Overdose on Super Greens?
If taking a glass of Super Greens is amazing for your body, then another one won’t hurt eh?
The thing with supplements is to study the label thoroughly.
I know being a guy we don’t like reading the manual, but it really does pay when considering supplements.
The more is better approach rarely applies. Over consumption could led to unwanted side effects.
Unlike some nasty over the counter supplements, these are unlikely to be serious, especially if you over indulge a little.
Whilst easy to consume be mindful of the recommended serving amount – always read the label, don’t OD on the Greens!
Can Anyone Take Super Greens?
Most manufacturers recommend adults over the age of 18 not taking any prescription medication are fine to take Super Greens.
There is are some age targeted Super Greens products for kids available.
Can you take Super Greens when pregnant?
Most super greens powders will advise you shouldn’t take when pregnant or breast feeding.
The reasons typically relate to one or more ingredients can potentially having an adverse reaction.
In addition, manufacturers may wish to err on the side of caution and avoid any legal issues down the road.
Can kids take Super Green supplements?
In general no, as the supplements I looked at were all aimed at adults (over 18 years of age).
However, some of the bigger supplement brands do have kid super green supplements in their range. One in particular is Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood.
Whether you should be giving your kids a Super Green is another question. I have two kids and honestly I would be reluctant to give this supplement to them.
I can see the irony here, but we (I really mean my wife) is great at ensuring our kids eat vegetables and fruit daily, we should all want to promote healthy eating habits with our children.
They also have a kid multivitamin too, additionally, they still enjoy drinking formula milk in the morning and night – so we are confident they’re get their daily intake requirements.
We (again I mean most likely me) on the other hand… ermm.
How safe are Super Greens?
On the whole, greens supplements are safe.
Generally, they don’t rely on stimulants like diet pills or pre-workouts etc.
They mostly contain fruits and vegetables, which technically you should eat daily, and so should be safe.
That said, as with any supplement the usual safety precautions apply. These are: Seeking medical advice if you’re taking any prescription medication and/or have a pre-existing health condition.
I am sure few people seek such advice in many cases but if you do have any medical conditions I really would suggest visiting your doctor.
Take along your chosen supplement and please double check.
Will I have side effects drinking Super Greens?
I have to say I didn’t experience any side effects from taking the products I tested, then again, having lived in SE Asia my stomach is pretty resilient – it wasn’t always like that mind!
A quick search online does reveal a few common Super Green side effects.
What are the common Super Green side effects?
The most common ones are stomach upset or mild diarrhoea.
In rare cases I have heard of people vomiting.
In any case the advice is always to stop consuming your supplement and reach out to the manufacturer.
It’s unlikely you’re doing anything wrong, unless you’re consuming too much and over the recommended daily amount.
Most likely your body doesn’t agree with one or more ingredients in the product.
Can you drink Super Greens on low carb diets?
If you’re on a low-carb diet, then you may have to be careful as to the Super Greens supplement you choose.
Some Super greens contain a relatively high amount of carbs per serving – depending on the ingredients and serving size they use.
So, what is too high of a carb content for Super green supplements?
This depends on the strictness of the low-carb diet you’re following.
If you’re following a Keto diet, then your daily carb intake is around 20 grams per day.
According to Diet Doctor, low carb veggies consist of Avocado, Broccoli, Spinach, Kale and Green Beans etc.
An excellent article that looks into the amount of carbs in all sorts of vegetables can be found on Diet Doctor. (This is an amazing site if you’re looking for information on Keto!)
With this in mind if you are on a Keto diet you may wish to avoid using these Super Greens:
However, there is another way of looking at this.
If you’re eating a low-carbohydrate diet or a small amount of fruits and veggies, then a greens supplement can be a beneficial addition.
But to be sure your Super greens supplement is Keto friendly you may wish to look for one that has a lower carb content (3g or less).
Super Greens and Probiotics a great idea? Erm.. maybe not
Probiotics, are the good bacteria that live in your digestive tract and encourage your healthy bacteria to thrive.
Many, if not most, Greens Supplements include a “probiotic blend” as a way to boost gut health and your immune system. On the face of it, this seems like a no brainer?
Especially as my immune system is not that great having suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome some 20 years ago (see about me page).
Taking probiotics should be good to ensure my digestive health stays on track and my immune system could do with a boost in the right direction as well!
By combining Super Greens with Probiotics this means I get two effective supplements in one, right?
Digging a bit deeper into this I found some surprising revelations. The issue is that by combining probiotics with Super Greens can make them inert and therefore ineffective.
A major problem with probiotics is that the bacteria are very sensitive to the way they’re prepared and stored. If too hot or too cold the bacteria die – meaning they simply won’t work!
If that’s not bad enough, then the bacteria may also die in the stomach before even reaching their destination (small intestine).
Probiotics in many Greens supplements may just be clever marketing and window dressing!
It’s worth considering that Probiotics aren’t suitable for everyone and can cause side effects. They can cause unwanted symptoms such as allergic reactions, mild stomach upsets, gas, bloating or diarrhoea.
If you have low or immune related issues or any serious medical complaints, then the advice is to avoid Probiotics, at the very least you should speak to your medical doctor.
Lastly on the matter of Probiotics – the science is not conclusive and most of the health claims for probiotics are argued as being pure hype.
There is no evidence to suggest that people with normal gastrointestinal tracts can benefit from taking probiotics,” says Matthew Ciorba, a gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis.
There could be a small benefit though, in some cases recent studies have shown that during and after a course of antibiotics they seem to decrease the chances of subsequently developing opportunistic infections.
Considering the above I see very little value in a Super Greens supplement just because it offers a “probiotics blend” in their formula.
I can’t completely dismiss them though, but the circumstances for use, would be highly specific, what other ingredients are included or have I been on a long term course of antibiotics?
That said, the inclusion of probiotics and the pushy marketing of them, raises my guard.
Super Green Powders, Capsules or Bottled Juices?
If you’ve ditched the idea of juicing (like I have) then there are a couple of options for how to take your Super Greens.
The common forms are either, as a powder that you mix with water, or in capsules that you swallow with water. The last option is pre made bottled juices that you would find in your local super market.
There are of course advantages and disadvantages of using these options, let’s take a look.
Pros and Cons of Super Green Powders
Reading through the reviews of many Super Green brands it’s clear, taste is a big factor.
Taste is personal thing, so it’s understandable that what you find tasty, I may not. (this is from the guy who enjoyed dunking cheese on honey spread on toast).
So, the main disadvantage of powders is the taste. Many brands counter this by offering a number of interesting flavors.
We have seen the usual Mint and Berry flavours to the more exotic Apple Pie variety.
Some brands stick with the natural flavour and encourage customers to mix with other drinks, such as smoothies – Not a good idea if you are on a Keto or Low Crab diet.
Last thing about green powders, these are available in tubs or pouches of varying sizes. The typical size is between 240-360g although some brands provide 500g+ package sizes.
Whether you prefer your super greens in tubs or pouches is personal preference. It may be slightly easier to scoop out your greens from a tub but does mean it’s bulkier for transporting if you’re on the go.
I am open to either a tub or pouch as it’s more about the serving size and ingredients for me.
Pros and Cons of Super Green Capsules
Swallowing capsules isn’t for everyone, but if you’re fine and never have a gag reflex, then why not take Super Green capsules I hear you cry?
Well the biggest disadvantage to capsules is the amount of ingredient you can consume at one time.
An average capsule contains 600mg of ingredient. Even if you took 3 capsules you’re only consuming a maximum of 1,800mg (1.8g).
This is a pitifully small amount compared to powders!
Most of the Super Green powders I researched had a serving size of 5g or more. Many provided 8-10g of nutrient dense powder.
Taking a scoop of a green powder might be the equivalent to what is found in 30 to 50 capsules,”says Michael B. Wald, MD, PhD, ND, director of nutritional services at Integrated Medicine & Nutrition in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Do you really want to be swallowing this many capsules to get a similar quantity of ingredients – I certainly don’t!
For me capsules aren’t a viable delivery mechanism for taking sufficient daily super greens.
In the Super Greens powder vs capsules debate I am definitely for powders!
Pros and Cons of Super Green Bottled Juices
A store purchased premixed green juices and smoothies can be convenient, but the ingredient profile is far inferior to powdered or even a capsule variety.
A fresh green juice may also not be that fresh. Depending on how long it’s been in the shop!
But the main concern is the large amount of sugar likely to be inside.
This coupled with the lack of sufficient nutrients mean bottled green juice drinks are best avoided.
Are Super Green Supplements Regulated by FDA?
The short answer is no.
Like every over the counter supplement they don’t need to be regulated or inspected by the FDA.
What does this mean?
Well you shouldn’t just grab the first super greens supplement you see on the shelf or marketed online.
You need to do your research!
The supplement industry is a competitive multi-billion-dollar industry with every marketeer and manufacturer after your money. Like everything there are good ones, even great ethical companies out there. But there are many that use inferior ingredients and exaggerated claims.
Again, you need to do your research.
Alternatively, you can read mine by letting me have your email address to send you more useful stuff.
Are all Super Greens effective?
Not all Super Greens are created equally, and some are much better than others.
The more I dug deep into researching Super Greens, the more I found out about a number of factors that influence their effectiveness.
From my research I would say the number one issue is the ingredients used, and importantly the quantity in each serving.
When taking a supplement, I want to be 100% confident that what they say is in it I am consuming.
If it’s organic – it needs to be organic, simple right?
So, I advise carefully checking the supplement label. Know what you’re buying and consuming.
Why do I Avoid Super Greens with Proprietary Blends
Checking out supplement labels that contain 20-40 ingredients is not easy.
But you know what’s more tiresome?
When a supplement wraps a bunch of ingredients into a “Proprietary Blend” then you’re not getting the full picture.
When they do this, there is no way to know how much of each ingredient is inside – so how effective is it really?
What was interesting was by the end of my research, I had become pretty good at knowing even before seeing the label, if the supplement contained a proprietary blend or not.
I have taken a picture of one such Super Greens proprietary blend below.
You typically get a fancy sounding pseudo-scientific name for the blend, something like “immune support blend” or “Digestive enzyme complex”.
The bunch of impressive sounding ingredients only contain the weight of the that particular “blend” – NOT the individual ingredient amounts.
The effectiveness of the ingredient for you is mainly DEPENDENT ON ITS QUANTITY.
It’s a simple leap to say, if you don’t know the ingredient amount you don’t know if it ACTUALLY WORKS.
Armed with ingredient amounts you can find out if the science supports it.
I really dislike proprietary blends and you should too!
The reason quoted by manufacturers is to “protect” their special formula.
This is pure BS.
There is no magic formula out there of a special combination of veggies that will give you Super Powers. Instead this is a legal way to hide ingredient amounts.
The only legislation is for the first ingredient used in the blend to be the main one.
At best this practice is to try making the brand sound more exotic, the new big thing.
At worse it could be selling you a completely ineffective product.
In any case having a proprietary blend in supplements is most likely misleading and ultimately you have no way of knowing what is inside.
I will be avoiding Super Greens using proprietary formulas.
Super Greens Marketing – Being Supplement Savvy
As with all supplements, greens are marketed by celebrity fitness coaches/authors or as part of a brand within a range of products in a bigger store.
Whilst I don’t believe that necessarily one is better over another. You do need to be aware of the marketing tactics used by particular products.
In my experience single product brands tend to be more heavily marketed using a more direct marketing approach.
What does this mean?
Be prepared for stronger claims and in some cases a bigger wallet.
That’s not to say they are a poor choice and to stick with bigger brands. It’s more to be aware what is being said about the supplement.
End of the day do the claims made by the product stack up?
What to look out for when choosing a Super Greens Supplement?
I enjoyed delving into the popular super greens on the market, reading between the lines of the marketing messages and fact checking against proper research available online.
During my extensive research I put together a little check list to help me assess a supplements pedigree.
My 7-point checklist for choosing a suitable Super Greens supplement:
- Super greens powder or capsule?
For reasons stated above I am not keen on choosing capsules. The simple reason I don’t believe you can take enough capsules to have sufficient ingredient amount in one serving.
- What are the ingredients?
Do I know exactly what is in and how much is in the supplement? No hiding ingredients in a proprietary blend (see above). I want my daily greens but what else is included? Probiotics, immune, energy support etc.
- Is it vegetarian, 100% natural without added sweeteners?
I want to ensure I am getting healthy greens and no synthetic lab produced sub-par ingredients. A healthy drink needs to be well… healthy!
- How does it taste?
I want to be able to drink it every morning without being an unpleasant experience.
- What’s the refund policy and money-back guarantee?
If I don’t get on with the supplement I would like to know that I can claim a refund.
- What’s the daily serving size?
There needs to be sufficient amount to have a benefit otherwise why I am taking it?
- How much does each daily serving cost?
I am keen to know the monthly cost as some brands annoyingly only have 10-24 servings in one container.
Which Super Greens Powder is the Best for Me?
After digesting all this information which Super Greens powder have I chosen?
Well the answer is actually a few but not all the ones on my “would like to try” list.
Why is this?
There are actually a few really good Super Greens on the market and I wanted to compare them all.
Taste is really important if you’re going to drink Super greens powder daily. So I decided to not only look at the ingredients but to actually do the Super Greens taste test.
So below is the list of products I am trying at the moment (of course not all at the same time!).
Super Greens I am currently trying (in no particular order):
- Athletic Greens – My experience with Athletic Greens
- Amazing Grass Green Superfood
- Science Based Green Detox
- Detox Organics
- Organifi Green Juice
- Supergreen TONIK
- Green Vibrance
- Patriot Power Greens
- Yuri Energy Greens
- Nested Naturals Super Greens
- Texas SuperFood
- Total Living Drink Greens
- Country Farms Super Greens
- IT Works! Greens review
- Onnit Earth Grown Nutrients
- Arbonne Greens Balance
- Purely Inspired Organic Greens
- Macro Naturals Macro Greens
- Synergy Naturals Super Greens
To clarify I am not stating that this is a definitive list of greens I believe are good.
Some I am trying to buy but they aren’t making it easy. I won’t out them yet and it depends how I get on 😉
I’ll be writing up my experience with each one of these in the coming weeks.
I purchased all of these through the Amazon store and so I have added an Amazon link for the above if you’re interested in learning more about them.
My Final Thoughts on Super Greens
I have really enjoyed delving into the Greens supplement market.
Without doubt it’s a growing market and it’s not going away.
Consuming a daily Super Green won’t replace eating a healthy balanced diet, there are too many benefits to ignore.
The convenience of having a nutrient dense drink first thing in the morning means I will get my veggie and micro-nutrient needs for the day.
I am sold!
Clearly my takeaway is that I and well most likely you too, could benefit from taking a daily greens supplement.
That is as long as you choose wisely and pick a high quality one. Taking a look at the products available it’s clear there is a range in quality.
There are many sub-par products out there – and that is being polite!
Well-known brands didn’t always score highly in my research. This means I won’t necessarily be going for a well-known brand.
Price varied significantly too.
Although price is a factor, I try not to shop primarily on price as the more important measure is “value”.
If you’re paying only a few cents per serving, then are you really getting top quality super greens? Equally why spend over $3 per serving when you don’t have too?
From my research a good greens powder is going to cost you between $0.54 and $3.23 per serving (per day).
To wrap up…
These days I believe Super Greens have broken through the stigma of being seen as a “hippie food”. Not that I really worry about such stereo types.
If you’re looking for a convenient way to get your daily dose of super greens, then a supplement in powder form could be just the ticket.
I believe I found some worthy Super Greens supplements to give a try and will let you know the results.
Watch this space for updates – or why not simply subscribe to get updates delivered straight to your mailbox?
Are you currently using a Super Greens supplement? I would really like to hear your feedback, please comment below.