2018's 10 Best
Tell you what, America loves its supplements. So much so that half of the adult population takes a daily vitamin. Unfortunately, almost everyone comes up short when it comes to taking five or more servings of fruits or vegetables per day. Surprised? Ask yourself how often you hit that target. Uh huh.
These days, the latest trend in supplements goes by the name of greens supplements. And the name is a dead giveaway for what it is. Greens supplements are basically meant to supplement the greens in your diet that everyone tries to avoid but are really good for you. They’re a potent combination of many types of foods. These include fruits, veggies, algae, and/or grasses compacted together and distilled into powdered form.
Ideally, greens supplements are meant to amplify the benefits you would otherwise get from eating your fruits and veggies. Available in powdered form, these supplements offer several health-boosting vitamins and minerals.
The exact ingredients will vary by brand, but you can expect to find a few common ones. These include wheat grass, chlorella, spirulina, kale, and matcha tea. Some brands will also offer pre- and probiotics along with digestive enzymes.
The best greens supplements will allow you to consume a concentrated version of several fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It’s important to remember though that these are not meant to be a substitute for actual green food. That said, here’s what the most potent ingredients in green powders have to offer. Jump to Our 10 Best Greens Supplements List
Spirulina is the most nutritious and concentrated whole food available. Unfortunately it’s also one of those you’d rarely want to munch on. Known as the ultimate superfood, spirulina is a type of algae. It contains an impressive concentration of vitamins A, C, E, and K. It also contains B vitamins and a host of important minerals.
Spirulina is an exceptional source of antioxidants that can offer protection against oxidative damage. Its main active compound is phycocyanin, which gives the algae its blue-green color. It can also inhibit pro-inflammatory signalling molecules and prevent inflammation.
Its antioxidant content can also prevent cholesterol oxidation. Plus, it can reduce blood pressure levels and improve muscle strength and endurance.
Chlorella is another algae with immense health benefits. It has an excellent nutritional profile, qualifying it as a true superfood. It contains a high concentration of protein. It also has good iron and vitamin C stores with small amounts of important minerals.
Its biggest strength is perhaps its immense detoxifying properties. Chlorella can bind heavy metals and remove them from the body. In addition, a diet that includes chlorella has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Its antioxidant compounds can also fight many chronic diseases.
Wheatgrass is another dense source of many nutrients and antioxidants. It contains eight essential amino acids along with nine nonessential ones. Like its algae counterparts, wheatgrass also contains lots of chlorophyll.
There are several antioxidants found in wheatgrass with health benefits. These can help kill cancer cells, aid in blood sugar regulation, and ease inflammation. It’s also used extensively to promote weight loss. The science behind this is its thylakoids content that yields feelings of satiety by slowing down the emptying of stomach.
Matcha Green Tea
Like other greens found in green supplements, matcha tea is also full of antioxidants. Its primary strength comes from catechins that stabilize harmful free radicals. Matcha tea has also been associated with reducing and preventing the risk of liver damage. Consumption of matcha tea has also been shown to improve memory, attention, and retention times. Its extract can also reduce tumor size and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
The nutrient profile of kale can benefit the whole body with everything from your heart and bones to your digestive system. It contains vitamins A, C, K, and B6. Plus, it has impressive supplies of manganese, calcium, potassium, copper, and magnesium.
Kale also boasts flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol. These provide cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Kale is an excellent source of beta-carotene along with lutein and zeaxanthin. All these compounds offer many anti-aging benefits.
Based on this nutrient profile of green powders, here are some benefits that a greens supplement can offer when used in combination with a healthy diet.
RESTORES PH BALANCE
The human body likes to maintain homeostasis. That means it prefers equilibrium between levels of acidity and alkalinity.
When you consume a diet rich in proteins but lacking in vitamins and minerals, the pH balance of the body changes. This can create an acid load in the body and potential low-grade acidosis.
Most of your proteins comes from meat, dairy, and grains, which are all acidic. But introducing more vegetables and fruits, even in supplemental form, can help counter this effect.
Leafy greens are all alkaline. Since green supplements are all vegetable powerhouses, they can improve the body’s acid/base balance.
An unbalanced pH can compromise bone health, increase cortisol levels, and even impair thyroid function. As such, including a greens supplement in the diet can be beneficial for improving pH levels.
IMPROVES ENERGY LEVELS
Acidity overload will also tax your stamina. It can make you sluggish, tired, heavy, and not at all like yourself. Too much acid impacts almost everything in the body. This includes your digestive system, joints, muscles, and cardiovascular system.
Together, toxins, acids, and stress will trigger inflammation in the body. The result is that your body has to work that much harder to stay afloat and deal with the effects of inflammation. This also makes waking up every morning with renewed energy rather difficult.
Most people these days try combatting the lack of energy with caffeine, sugar, and energy drinks. These are all, once again, acidic in nature. Also, tons of sugar and caffeine can definitely help in the short run, but can lead to complications down the road.
A better and more sensible option is to substitute with fruits and vegetables. If you can’t do that on a regular basis, then opt for a greens supplement instead.
You can optimize your nutrient intake from this concentrated version. This will also yield a quick surge of energy. Maybe not like a good jolt of caffeine can, but you might be surprised at just how well it does.
PREVENTS CHRONIC DISEASES
Dark leafy greens are the gold standard when it comes to promoting health on all levels. They are an excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and carotenoids.
When concentrated in a greens supplement, the powdered variety will also offer the same benefits. Leafy greens can help lower the risk of blood clots. They also regulate cholesterol levels and even limit the risk of developing heart-related conditions.
So if whipping up a kale salad every day sounds mundane, you could just as easily have a greens supplement instead. Or a shake. Add in some banana and pineapple, and you almost won’t be able to taste the kale. Jump to Our 10 Best Greens Supplements List
BOOSTS SKIN HEALTH
The benefits of including more greens are not only obvious on the inside but the outside as well. Green powders come brimming with vitamins A, C, and E, which are all well-known for supporting skin health. What you may not know is that ingredients like spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, and matcha tea are also chock-full of ingredients that benefit the skin. Among these, spirulina contents have an anti-aging effect on the body, including the skin. It can also remove heavy metals and toxins from the skin by purging dead cells. And its high concentration of chlorophyll removes free radicals, making skin appear smoother and softer.
Chlorella, on the other hand, is a powerful detoxifier with a high vitamin A, C, and chlorophyll concentrations. These nutrients remove skin impurities, making it looking more radiant and renewed. Plus, the nutrients in chlorella also work to heal eczema and similar skin conditions.
Wheatgrass is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. It also has exceptionally impressive stores of vitamins E, K, and B.
Together, these nutrients can help maintain skin elasticity and skin tone while restoring a youthful glow. Your skin can also benefit from its detoxifying properties.
Both kale and matcha green tea have anti-inflammatory potential and amazing detoxifying properties. On the one hand, kale offers skin support with its rich chlorophyll, vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient profile. On the other, matcha green tea can counter inflammation and help the skin overcome conditions like eczema, rosacea, and acne. Its high antioxidant content protects skin from environmental pollutants. Plus, the EGCG compounds slow cell degeneration and thus the aging process.
Quality greens powders will come with high bioavailability. This lets you enjoy a greater concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. At the same time, they are easily absorbed and can start working in the body immediately.
GREENS POWDERS ARE VERSATILE & CONVENIENT
It is not difficult to include greens powders in your diet. Perhaps the easiest option is to blend them into smoothies or add them to drinks. But there’s a lot more you can do with these powdered supplements.
For instance, you can add them to salad dressings, soups, mousses, dips, pesto, or hummus. Some of these are genius, but I’m still kind of hesitant about the mousses one (especially if it’s chocolate). You can also sprinkle them on your foods though, such as cereal or eggs, to add a powerful punch to your breakfast.
Along with this high level of versatility, greens powders also offer a certain degree of convenience. They do take most of the work out of preparing healthy meals-on-the-go. They also make a good alternative to spending extra time in the kitchen to prepare them. So eat a sensible amount of greens and veggies with your meals, and then add that extra punch with a supplement, instead of doubling your prep time by chopping all that kale.
Greens supplements can even help you out when you travel. The same goes for times when fruits and vegetables are not readily available.
Buying Greens Supplements
Greens supplements may boast several benefits, such as improved energy levels and better nutrient absorption. But it is important to remember that the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements. As such, it becomes critically important to pay attention to what you are purchasing.
Some important quality considerations include making sure that the powder contains what it advertises and nothing else. In fact, experts recommend purchasing only from companies that have been certified through a third party lab.
These bodies make sure that the product is as advertised. They carry out testing to verify that the ingredient list actually matches the components inside the supplement.
Another thing to watch out for is that the product does not contain unwanted additives. This refers to sugars or artificial sweeteners to mask its otherwise strong taste. Also avoid emulsifiers, such as lecithin and other fillers. These additives can interfere with the bioavailability of the nutrients, compromising their effectiveness.
When looking for a brand, try to find one with minimal amounts of fiber in the mix. Not that fiber isn’t good. It’s awesome. But it’s also relatively cheap, and many manufacturers will opt for fillers like these to cut their costs while still charging you the full price.
Also, look for products that have been minimally processed. This will help preserve their nutrient profile.
When it comes to greens powder supplementation, more isn’t necessarily better. If anything, because the powder is so concentrated, you don’t really need a whole lot.
Serving sizes for greens supplements may be as small as a single tablespoon. Yet, it will still give you a boost of ingredients. A single serving is usually enough to deliver your daily recommended intake of these nutrients.
When taken in appropriate doses, greens supplements are tolerated fairly well. That said, when it comes to supplements, it’s not difficult to go overboard. While any of the water-soluble vitamins will get flushed out of the body, their fat-soluble counterparts may not. Likewise, certain minerals may also not flush out and thus have the potential to build up to toxic levels. Incorrect usage may also potentially sabotage insulin sensitivity and impact muscle growth.
As such, it is important to choose a blend that does not exceed your daily recommended intake of any vitamin. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended to consult with your doctor before starting any supplement.
Top 10 Greens Supplements
Just remember that greens supplements can only be your backup plan at best. Use them as a supplement rather than as your main source of vitamins and minerals. If you’re already having more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you probably won’t need them. But if you fall short, here are some of the best options to choose from.
- Joe Leech, MS 10 Health Benefits of Spirulina HealthLine.com
- Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Chlorella HealthLine.com
- Rachael Link, MS, RD 7 Evidence-Based Benefits of Wheatgrass HealthLine.com
- Rachael Link, MS, RD 7 Proven Ways Matcha Tea Improves Your Health HealthLine.com
- Kris Gunnars, BSc 10 Health Benefits of Kale HealthLine.com
- National Cancer Institute Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention Cancer.gov
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