So you’re thinking of trying one of these super greens powders?
It seems that their popularity has grown steadily over the last few years. But they’ve actually been used for health and healing for decades.
Once the domain of tree-hugging hippies, and vegetarians, you can now find your super greens Holland and Barrett, they’re on the shelf of your local super market and also on Amazon too!
Online search volume for “Super Greens” shows a steady increase in interest over the last 5 years.
But why would you try a greens drink?
What are the benefits to mixing up a greens powder first think in the morning?
Are there benefits over just eating vegetables, or popping a multi vitamin tablet?
We’ve scoured the web for the science and studies, read the reviews, the anecdotal feedback trying to separate the fact from the marketing fiction. But before we dive in to the benefits, lets first understand what a super greens is.
A super greens, (or greens powder or greens drink) is made up of dehydrated, freeze-dried raw ingredients. Normally a blend of:
In their powdered form, create a high density of nutrients in a very compact form. Most come in a tub or sachet, that is mixed with cold water, a smoothie or juice.
The most common ingredients you’ll find in greens powders are:
You’ll also find other special ingredients to help with metabolism and flavour
Whilst origin of the ingredients DOES matter, if you’re going to take greens drink on a daily basis, look for something with as wide a nutrient profile as possible.
This means multiple ingredients, and ultimately a blend that you can actually stomach.
Having tried most greens powders available in the UK, and some further afield, the biggest hurdle is TASTE.
Because it doesn’t matter one bit, with all the amazing benefits that follow, if you can’t stomach the taste you'll definitely not consume the product long enough to see any of the benefits.
For example, products that are heavy on Spirulina and Alfalfa have a very strong taste and smell, personally I can’t stand Spirulina on its own, even just the smell makes have a gag reflex!
Now before I put you off trying a greens drink, lets crack in to the big super greens benefits
At the risk of losing you with science in our first big benefit, let me STOP you and explain why phytonutrients are super important. WebMD explains it best:
“Phytonutrients aren't essential for keeping you alive, unlike the vitamins and minerals that plant foods contain. But when you eat or drink phytonutrients, they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.”
So pretty important stuff I’d say and many of the ingredients in greens drinks are PACKED with phytonutrients.
They are anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, anti-oxidant (that’s a lot of ANTI’s), as well as great for immune health, and tissue regeneration, stuff we’ll cover in other big benefits.
We don’t get enough fibre in our day to day diets. Fibre comes from many different food sources, sadly not much in the heavily processed modern diets.
For getting your daily fibre needs nothing beats eating fruits and vegetables in their normal state.
The problem with the process for freeze drying and dehydrating the ingredients in a greens powder is you’ll always lose some of their fibrous properties.
It’s difficult to say how much fibre is maintained in the powder, just beware of brands that promise high fibre content.
The key is to consume a solid diet of fruit and vegetables where possible and supplement with a greens powder to make up your nutrient count on days you can’t fit in your 5 a day.
Gut health is something many people don’t consider when it comes to general day to day health.
However, without your digestive system working effectively, you might find it hard to absorb the good healthy foods you’re consuming.
Digestive enzymes are essential for breaking down and absorbing the foods you eat.
Get your digestion right and it’s not just your tummy that feels good, everything from your skin condition to your energy levels will rapidly improve.
Thankfully many high quality super greens contain a range of digestive enzymes to help your body absorb the goodness of the other ingredients found in greens.
Yes, that eternal benefit for ALL nutritional supplements available today.
It seems if you don’t promise weight loss, why does it exist!
Our own thoughts on greens drinks for weight loss…
Well it’s what I would call a secondary benefit.
Greens drinks have not yet been proven to help you lose weight, but they can be part of the process that enables you to shift some flabby bits.
For example there is some research reported in Scientific American, that supports the link between gut bacteria and how we store body fat
Also when you take a greens drink, it can help eliminate cravings, and naturally suppress your appetite.
It makes will power irrelevant, because if you provide your body with a wide variety of nutrients from a greens drink, your hypothalamus stops sending you hunger signals.
If you have less cravings, and lower appetite, you’ll consume LESS calories which has the knock on effect of helping you lose weight.
During my days as a personal trainer in the busy EU city of Luxembourg, I used to ask my clients to provide a weekly food diary. Every week I’d scan the diary to make sure they were on track with our set nutritional adaptation.
My most commonly used phrase:
“Show me the vegetable!”
Whole weeks would go by and not a single vegetable would appear on the diary. I knew back then, the importance of getting nutrients from a wide variety of colourful vegetables for helping them reach their health goals.
It wasn’t until the last few years with Personal Training clients that I discovered the power of Greens drinks, and their incredibly easy method of adding vegetables to your diet.
I just wish I’d known about it sooner.
Because of the nutrient packing properties of a super greens its commonly compared to a daily multi-vitamin tablet.
However, I’d go so far as saying they are two very different things. It’s impossible to have a like for like comparison.
Multi-vitamins are normally synthetically manufactured, meaning the core nutrient bears little resemblance to the original source.
Your body will find it very difficult to absorb the maximum amount from a tablet, the majority is literally lost down the toilet.
Because greens powders are based on the raw ingredient source, much of the nutrient density is maintained, and more importantly the nutrients are much more ‘bioavailable’ meaning your body can absorb much more of the good stuff.
Your hypothalamus is a sensitive beast.
It’s part of the brain that controls appetite and cravings.
If you’re deficient in a particular nutrient, it’ll send you hunger signals to try to appease the hypothalamus. This is particularly prevalent if your diet consists of heavily processed, salted and sugared foods!
It’s the reason why you have a mid morning and mid afternoon slump at work. Leaving you reaching for the office snack machine.
Because a super greens powder benefits from a wide range of natural nutrients that the body can absorb, your hypothalamus remains satisfied and happy, sending no cravings signals.
It’s why we recommend taking your greens first thing in the day, keeping your beast happy all day long.
We’re all energy junkies!
Today we live in a world of instant quick fixes, energy drinks, highly caffeinated, overly sugared foods and drinks that promise to perk us up and give us wings.
Problem is with all this high octane living when the effect wears off we CRASH big time, leaving us desperate for our next fix.
We all need energy to survive our day at work, or with the kids, or our ever demanding bosses.
Which is where a greens powder comes in to effect. Like the cravings killing properties above, greens can provide a natural energy boost too.
The natural slow release carbohydrates and proteins in many of the greens powder ingredients provide you with a consistent supply of energy throughout your day.
Not just a quick shot of go go juice.
Earlier we talked about digestive enzymes, both naturally occurring in some green ingredients but also the added enzymes you’ll commonly find in a greens powder supplement.
When your digestive system is compromised, your gut struggles to properly deal with the good and bad foods you eat.
For those with IBS type symptoms trying to figure out what your trigger foods are can be a minefield, and a never ending battle.
Some of the obvious ones like bread and pasta can cause acute onset of extreme bloating…
AKA the pregnant look
However, supply your tummy with a steady supply of digestive enzymes and your gut will handle those situations better, with significantly less bloating episodes, or eliminating them entirely.
The simple fact is if your body can absorb MORE nutrients from fruits and vegetables, the better the condition of ALL tissue in the body.
Many of the green ingredients in a greens drink contain chlorophyll (that’s the stuff that makes green stuff green).
Whilst no clinical trials have been offered up to back up any claims, there are many anecdotal reports of wheatgrass consumption leading to repair broken skin, help with eczema and dermatitis.
This article from Livestrong talks about the possible links between Chlorella and stopping hair loss. Rich in Vits and minerals, the sea origin plant is recommended for supplementation to improve hair quality
This seems to be a subject everyone avoids.
However, “cleaner” toilet habits certainly make us all feel happier with our bodies right?
Once again that magical chlorophyll comes to rescue, found in most of the common greens juice recipes. Chlorophyll is perfect for cleansing the liver. And with a liver and gut working better, a more consistent and healthy stool can be achieved.
Not many folk know this, but Spirulina is ‘almost’ a completely protein. Meaning that it contains all but two of the essential amino acids, the building blocks of life and essential elements for everyones diet.
Good news for our vegetarian friends.
However beware, spirulina has a taste and smell that is only matched by a mouldy, stagnant pond… and is one of the main reasons greens drinks get a bad reputation for tasting like pond life.
Thankfully there are blends available that are much more palatable.
Alkalising type diets have had a rough ride in the last few years.
Millions of people swear by them, but the medical community refute the claim that blood alkalinity can be changed by consuming a more alkaline diet.
However, when much of our modern diet is highly acidic, and highly inflammatory, any foods that can counter this are a good thing.
Greens powders are generally pH neutral or slightly alkaline, and can easily be used alongside your choice of alkaline diet.
Watch enough movies and be around greens drinks the majority of your day, you quickly spy the use of greens drinks by superheroes.
Two significant spy shots of greens drinks being found in Hollywood are:
Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) chugging back a large glass of greens before pounding out a bunch of shirtless pushups after a heavy night saving Gotham.
The second is Ironman with Tony Stark, keeping his body ticking over with regular greens drinks.
And you can’t argue with Marvel and DC Comics
Sadly greens drinks have had a reputation of being an ‘acquired’ taste.
Thankfully a few rogue independent supplement companies have broken the mould and set about creating greens drinks that are acceptable to consume, rather than being just for the health nuts and tree huggers.
One particular company based it’s entire USP (Unique Selling Proposition) around this idea of a greens drinks designed for taste as well as health. Lean Greens has been operating since 2012, and has served literally 10’s of 1000’s of customers who wanted the benefits but without the taste.
To grab your first tub of Lean Greens check out the Starter Pack here >>>
So there you have it, everything you ever wanted to know about Super Greens.
Hopefully we’ve given you enough insight in to what to look for when you go looking for your first greens drink to try. As well as what benefits you’re likely to get from consuming one on a daily basis.
As ever, nothing beats top notch nutrition habits, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables making up a large part of your daily diet.
It amuses me when people ask me what’s wrong with just eating more vegetables? And it’s true, if we all ate more vegetables we wouldn’t really have a need for greens powders.
However for those wanting an insurance policy for when you can’t always get your 5 a day in, a super greens is a great supplement to your already great diet.