Supergreens is a category of health supplement that predominantly consists of plant-based material but may also contain probiotic bacteria. Sometimes they provide prebiotics and digestive enzymes as well. Without exception, supergreens products come in the form of a powder and it’s always green.
The plant-based ingredients are the most important thing. They define the product and make it what it is. Any probiotic bacteria that is included is only there to offer supplementary benefits.
Prebiotics are plant extracts that provide the type of natural fiber probiotics feed on. As for the digestive enzymes, these generally come from plants as well. For instance, pineapples and bananas contain bromelain. It’s a protease enzyme that can break down dietary fat. Again, any prebiotic or digestive benefits supergreens offer are best seen as additional extras.
Above all else, supergreens exist to provide a quick and easy means to improve nutrition. Like the plants they are made from, they also contain antioxidants. Supergreens are a food powder. That in no way means they should be seen as a replacement for a healthy diet. Supergreens just lend a helping hand by providing additional nutritional support.
How to Get the Best Out of Supergreens
Some people consume supergreens powders by adding them to omelets, sprinkling them over soup, or adding them to other warm meals. None of these ways is a particularly good way to get supergreens into the body. They work best when the powder is shaken or stirred into cold liquid to make a drink.
Adding the powder to warm food has the potential to destroy some of the vitamins they provide.
Super Greens: The Raison D’être
Good health requires a sufficient quantity of fruit and vegetables per day. Apart from providing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; they also contain dietary fiber and carbohydrate. Most people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.
Figures provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest this dietary inadequacy may dramatically reduce longevity. Consequently, WHO is working hard to increase fruit and vegetable consumption all over the world. (https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/fruit/en/)
In 2003, WHO joined forces with the Agriculture Organization (FAO) and launched a venture to promote fruit the health benefits of fruit and vegetables. The recommendation is that everyone should eat at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day.
400 Grams or 5-A-Day
Health organizations worldwide were quick to jump onboard. This lead to the current 5-A-Day campaigns that suggest everyone eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetable per day.
Why 5-A-Day? This has never really been explained, but most people will find it easier to count food portions than weight them.
However, starchy tubers, such as potatoes and yams, do not count towards your 5-A-Day. This is because such food mainly contributes starch to the diet. The nutritional benefit is not so good as that of other root vegetables, such as turnips and parsnips. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day-faqs/)
Potatoes, yams and other such starchy tubers provide a lot of extra calories that can contribute to weight gain.
An Alternative Way to Get 5-A-Day? (Not Quite)
Despite the high-profile nature of the 5-A-Day campaigns, too many people fail to act on the recommendation. This situation resulted in the birth of the first supergreens products.
All supergreens provide the equivalent of at least five pieces of fruit and vegetable per day. Most of them provide a lot more.
Bananas are an obvious exception, but most fruits and vegetables require a certain amount of preparation. At the very least it will be wise to wash them. They may also need peeling. In the case of many vegetables, some cutting and cooking is also likely to be necessary.
With a supergreens powder, all you need to do is stick it in a glass with some water and you are good to go. That in no ways means supergreens should be seen as an alternative to your 5-A-Day. They are an excellent way to get extra nutrients and antioxidants into the body though.
Supergreens Vs Multi-Vitamins and Mineral Pills
The human body is designed to take its nourishment from food. Pills that provide vitamins and minerals are all well and good, but they don’t provide anything else. Natural fiber? They don’t have it. Nor do they offer any antioxidants.
Antioxidants are important. They act as scavengers, seeking out free radical toxins and neutralizing them.
Free radical toxins contribute to early aging and have the potential to harm the health in many ways. You need antioxidants. They support good health. (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm)
The researches in charge of one study noted a significant reduction in protein and lipid oxidation among subjects using supergreens powder. This was put down to the antioxidant properties of the powder. The researchers concluded the powder may offer protection against the chronic diseases that can result from oxidative stress. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21954333)
Supergreens: The Potential to Support Good Health
Supergreens powders can be very nutritious. The plant proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients they provide can provide physical and mental invigoration along with an improved feeling of well-being.
Some of the benefits supergreens users may experience could include:
- Increased energy
- Not becoming tired so easily
- Improvements to the skin, nails, and hair
- Better digestion
- Healthy bowel movements
- Healthier liver function
- Better immune system
- Improved concentration
- Better memory
Of course, the benefits are likely to be more pronounced in individuals whose normal diet provides an insufficient range of nutrients.
Supergreens for Weight Management
Many supergreens manufacturers state their products can help with weight loss. The truth of the matter is, there are better ways to lose weight. There are some very good products that are designed to provide this kind of support.
However, that’s not to say supergreens powder will offer no weight loss support at all.
For one thing, the dietary fiber the powders contain has the potential to provide a feeling of satiety that could help suppress hunger cravings.
Some of the plant extracts used in supergreens may also support weight loss in other ways. Acai berries are a good example. Some research shows they can boost metabolism and, in so doing, cause the body to burn extra calories. The probiotics that some supergreens powders contain also have the potential to increase metabolism.
Supergreens are a good source of zinc, which supports testosterone production. When you start talking about testosterone most people immediately think of it’s relationship to muscle growth. However, among other things, testosterone also helps with fat burning.
So, supergreens may offer weight loss benefits, but that’s not a good enough reason to buy them. The support they offer in this regard is likely to be too limited.
Remember, supergreens came on the scene in response to the 5-A-Day campaigns. They are primarily intended to support good health.
The Anti-Aging Ability of Supergreens: Myth or Reality?
Can regular doses of green powder really help people to defy the aging process? Unfortunately, they are unlikely to help anyone to turn back the clock. There is evidence that they may help slow the aging process though.
There appears to be a link between oxidative stress and aging. Oxidative stress is what happens when too many free radical toxins build up in the body. It’s what antioxidants help prevent. One of the reasons smoking ages the skin is that it causes oxidative stress. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087002415305116)
Super greens powders provide antioxidants and antioxidants reduce oxidative stress. It’s not rocket science. It’s easy to see the argument for a connection between supergreens and skin aging.
By boosting vitamin and mineral intake, supergreens have the potential to improve not only skin health but the hair and nails as well. Any improvements that come about would certainly contribute to a healthier and, possibly, younger appearance.
A Look at Some Popular Supergreens Ingredients
Most supergreens products contain a lot of ingredients. Often a dozen or more. This would be a problem with capsule-type supplements like diet pills. It would invariably mean all or most of the ingredients were included in minuscule quantities.
It’s different with supergreens powders. There is no need to compact the entire formulation into a tiny pill. Their powder format makes it easier to fit everything in.
With so many options available. It would be impossible to provide a summary of all the supergreens ingredients you may encounter.
However, some good supergreens ingredients include:
Acai is a popular Brazilian “superfruit”. In fact, it’s the first fruit to bear the superfruit name.
Superfruits are deemed “super” because of their high nutritional content.
Apart from being a good source of vitamins, acai berries are packed with trace minerals including zinc, iron, and phosphorous.
Acai is also rich in antioxidants. It contains three times more than blueberries do. The most potent one is probably the anthocyanins that provide the berries with their dark color.
Research shows the antioxidants from acai reach the blood quite fast.
A few of the benefits associated with acai include improved cognitive function lower cholesterol, and weight loss.
You may not want to eat it before going on a date, but garlic boasts some pretty impressive medicinal properties.
Its use as a medicinal herb has been documented the world over. The ancient Egyptians used it. So did the Romans, and Chinese.
Scientists have discovered many of garlic’s health benefits come from the sulfur compounds it provides.
Garlic is also incredibly nutritious. It’s particularly high in manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Selenium.
One of the things garlic excels at is boosting immune function. More than one study shows it can reduce susceptibility to colds and flu by over 60%.
Although gardeners curse it as a weed, dandelion is actually a highly nutritious food. The leaves can be a very good addition to a salad. However, the whole plant is edible, from the roots up to the flowers.
Dandelion greens are rich in vitamins A, C, and K. They also provide vitamin E, folate and a smattering of B vitamins.
On the mineral side of things, dandelion greens provide calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Dandelion roots, on the other hand, provide inulin. This is a prebiotic fiber that feeds the probiotic bacteria in the gut.
Early studies suggest dandelion may aid blood sugar control. More study is needed there, but the compounds it provides are known to be very liver-friendly.
Dandelion provides digestive support, relieves constipation, and has been linked to many other benefits besides. Not bad for a garden weed.
Green tea is crammed so full of antioxidants and nutrients it has been called the healthiest beverage on the planet.
There’s an incredible amount of research that shows green tea can accelerate the metabolism and promote weight loss. It’s one of the most popular diet pill ingredients in the world.
Don’t sell green tea short though. I can do much more than just help you burn fat.
The polyphenols in green tea can do a lot of good things for the body. Reducing inflammation is one of them. Fighting disease is another.
There is also evidence that green tea can enhance brain function and boost physical performance.
Let’s be realistic, spinach is unlikely to give you forearms like Popeye. However, this green wonder is a superfood that provides a truckload of nutrients without delivering too many calories on top.
As with most dark, leafy greens, spinach supports bone health and is good for the skin and hair. It may also improve blood glucose control.
A few of the minerals spinach provides include calcium, iron, and magnesium. It’s also a source of potassium. For that reason, spinach is a good option for anyone who has high blood pressure.
Barley grass is another nutrient-rich superfood. It boosts immune function, supports cellular repair, and cleanses and detoxifies the body. Barley grass also provides nutrients that are very good for the skin.
Apart from Vitamins A, C, and E; barley grass contains several B Vitamins.
B vitamins aid the extraction of energy from food. In so doing they help invigorate the body. It’s no secret that Red Bull contains a number of different B Vitamins. Now you know the reason why.
Barley grass is also a naturally alkaline ingredient that helps reduce excess acidity within the body. In so doing, it may reduce fatigue, improve sleep quality, alleviate constipation, and help provide healthier fingernails.
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria that grows in fresh water and salt water alike. It’s sometimes called blue-green algae and it’s super nutritious.
The ancient Aztecs used to hold spirulina in high esteem. Its modern-day popularity is probably thanks to NASA. Space agency big-wigs were so impressed with its nutritional value they suggested it may be a good food for astronauts to cultivate while in space.
A seven-gram teaspoon of spirulina powder provides a staggering four grams of protein. It also delivers decent amounts of copper, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3, along with lesser quantities of various other nutrients.
Gram for gram, it’s sometimes said that spirulina may be the single most nutritious food in the world.
People living in Mediterranean countries have always incorporated olive leaves and fruit into their diets.
People living in these countries are known to be unusually healthy, so many people take a leaf out to the book of Mediterranean folk and adopt a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is a main part of the diet and it’s used both for weight loss and to promote good health.
Olives extracts are often credited with both the aforementioned abilities in their own right.
Additionally, it has been said that olive may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
It’s been called the king of the supergreens and it’s definitely got a shot at being one of the healthiest foods to ever grace a market stall. It’s very nutrients dense. It is great for adding for juicing and smoothies
There are several different types of kale. Some have green leaves. Others have purple. Some have smooth leaves, with others there’s some curl going on. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to kale, it’s all good.
Kale contains a lot of vitamins and minerals and is very low in calories. This leafy wonder also provides alpha-linolenic acid. It’s an Omega-3 that lowers blood pressure and is known to be good for the heart.
Additionally, kale is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids. It also has the distinction of being one of the top sources of Vitamin K.
The Bottom Line
Are supergreens nutritious? Yes.
Do they offer health benefits? Absolutely.
Can they replace a healthy, balanced diet? Absolutely not.
When you use a supergreens powder you have the benefit of knowing you are putting some good stuff into your body. There’s a good chance you may notice a positive shift in the way you feel. You may even notice some physical improvement as well.
However, as with any other positive step that is taken towards good health, taking supergreens needs to be part of an overall commitment to healthy living. Not a way of providing damage limitation.
If you are smoking, drinking too much alcohol too often, and/or eating a junk food diet, supergreens won’t be your get out of jail free card. Knock the bad habits on the head first. Then, and only then, consider adding some supergreens to your daily routine.