Behind the Cape: Are Supergreen Powders Actually Super?
They boost brain power! They make you fast as a speeding bullet at the gym. They contain the most infamous of the “super buy me” marketing ploy ever: antioxidants. But really, are supergreen powders all the great?
I should explain something here; if you took a picture of my desk at this moment you would find the following: a super whole foods (read fiber-full) green smoothie, bulletproof coffee made with mushroom coffee instead of regular, four separate varieties of tea, water, an orange, and a bento box of fresh veggies and spinach cucumber feta dip amongst papers, pens, and post-its. My interest in supergreen value is not sarcasm, but due diligence.
Supergreen powders have been around forever, but over the last decade, they have been omnipresent. I remember taste testing the Amazing Greens version (the first one in my memory) at various health food stores and felt distinctly horse-like after the taste of alfalfa infiltrated my taste buds. It seems that the last five years has especially exploded the market with newcomers like Aloha, Hum, and Welle Co. to name a few. Get on your journalist’s specs and let’s see if they are all they seem.
What makes green powder super? (No, they don’t have tights or cool accessories.)
Supergreen powders are concentrated amounts of things like chlorella, barley, alfalfa, algae, spirulina, and other “young grasses.” They are harvested at their peak nutritional state, dried at low temperature, and then powdered. One of the major healthy ingredients they contain as a result is chlorophyll which, among other things, escorts dioxin (a big meany) from your liver and converts it to waste. Other benefits of supergreens include reduction in inflammation (if you don’t know about the damage inflammation can do to your hot bod, you better start reading up!), improves oxidation and repairs muscles after a grueling, “I ate a whole pizza (and garlic knots) last night” workout. They also contain mega antioxidants to keep your cells (the things your body is made of) healthy.
Should I? shouldn’t I? And then who do I choose?
If you eat a healthy diet full of raw, fresh supergreens and algae, save yourself the cash. Chances are you are already getting all you need. They are a good option to have around for when your daily nourishment goals have gone wonky, or you need a little extra oomph after a hard workout or a steam.
If you need somewhat more green in your life, be ready to part with a little of the other kind of green (dinero). The lowest price point is Amazing Greens which has been out forever and has a folksier marketing brand than some of the new kids on the block, but it is solid. It also frequently sports a manufacturer or store coupon. I like the classic myself, but some of the flavors like orange creamsicle and pomegranate aren’t bad. Aloha sports three flavor, all are pretty favorable and are available online and at Target. Their site also offers a robust recipe section if you need superfood inspiration. HUM is my go-to for post-sauna or strenuous workout as its Chocolate Mint is the only powder out there I can currently enjoy with water as a mixer. You can find it online, at Sephora, and at Nordstroms. Finally, there is the uber-pricey and purportedly the best quality with alkalizing effects: Welle Co’s Super Elixir. I admittedly ordered it last night because frankly, Elle Macpherson is hawking it and I will take some of her magic, Aussie, stopped-time-in-her-20’s dust anytime. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
So how and when do I use it?
Generally the rule of thumb is once a day, maybe more if you are feeling a little puny. Depending on the brand you choose, choking it down can range from pleasant to all out gage-reflex. Here are a few suggestions:
- Most green powders, except those with a chocolate, vanilla, or chai flavor profile, can be mixed with fruit juice. I prefer a low-sugar apple or grape juice.
- NEVER mix them with citrus juice unless you want to experience vomit aftertaste without the benefit of pre-vodka memories (graphic enough for you?).
- Nut milks are also good options as mixers, as are adding supergreens to like-flavored smoothies.
Brands like HUM work well in water (I love the Chocolate Mint and am excited to try the new Tahitian Vanilla & Berry). If you want a particularly yummy treat, any “plain” supergreen powder tastes its absolute best in apple cider (I have no idea why, but it is magical), but be ready to compromise with a higher caloric and sugar profile…but the supergreens balance that out, right?
Like when I have a Diet Coke with a double cheeseburger and loaded fries. Honk if you feel me.