If you don’t eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables each day, then chances are you won’t be getting enough of all the vitamins, minerals, trace elements and phytonutrients that your body needs to maintain optimum health.
A normal sedentary person should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. But athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone else who trains hard on a regular basis, will need more – around 7–10 servings per day. Yet very few people manage to get anywhere near this amount.
So, to make up for the shortfall, many people take a multivitamin supplement. But the problem with most multivitamins is that they are made from isolated and/or synthetic vitamins and minerals that have been produced in a lab. And these do not provide anything like the benefits you will get from consuming real whole food nutrients, as in many cases, the body cannot absorb and utilize them very well.
Therefore, a much better idea is to supplement your diet with either a whole food multivitamin, or alternatively, a superfood greens powder supplement. So, in this article, I’ll outline some of the benefits, as well as the possible risks, of taking a greens supplement, and I’ll also suggest a few of the best brands that you might want to consider using.
What are Greens Supplements?
Greens supplements are made from dried and powdered plant products, and they generally contain a wide range of ingredients, such as vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale etc.), aquatic plants (chlorella, spirulina and kelp), cereal grasses and any number of herbs. They may also contain fruits, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and added vitamins and minerals.
Greens supplements come as tablets or capsules, as well as powders, but due to the inconvenience of taking large numbers of pills each day, I would always recommend the powders, which can simply be mixed with water or juice, or added to your whey protein shake, and taken once, or perhaps twice, each day.
Greens supplements are packed with vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, antioxidants and healing phytonutrients in their natural form, and as well as providing a convenient way to make up for any shortfall in the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet, many of the ingredients they contain may provide health benefits beyond what would be achieved by simply eating more vegetables.
Benefits of Greens Supplements
People who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables have a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, various types of cancer, dementia and a host of other illnesses. And by supplementing your diet with a greens powder, you can derive similar benefits. But on top of that, taking a good quality greens supplement regularly can give you the following additional benefits:
- Improved pH balance – helps counteract the effect of acidic foods, such as protein, grains and dairy
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved immune system function
- Better digestion
- Faster recovery from exercise
- Reduced post-exercise muscle soreness
- Better sleep
- More energy
Risks of Greens Supplements
As with any supplement (or pretty much any other product for that matter), there are a number of possible risks associated with taking greens supplements. There is a risk of contamination with toxins or harmful bacteria. And because dietary supplements are not very well regulated, you can never be completely certain that what is on the label is what’s actually in the product.
Also, certain vitamins and minerals can be dangerous at high levels, so it’s possible that consuming large amounts of these products could put a person at risk of toxicity. And some herbs can interact with certain types of medications as well.
All these risks can be virtually eliminated, however, by buying only from highly reputable companies, choosing an organic product, and never exceeding the maximum recommended dose. And if you take any medications, it’s always worth checking that none of the ingredients will interact with them.
Best Brands of Greens Supplements
The best greens powders contain organic or wild-sourced ingredients, are GMO free, contain no artificial sweeteners or other synthetic ingredients, and are processed at low temperatures to preserve the enzymes and other nutrients. Also, certain ingredients (such as grasses) should have their juices extracted by cold-pressing before drying, as this releases the nutrients from the plant fibers, making them much more bioavailable.
So top of the list, in my opinion, is Organifi Green Juice Powder. This contains 12 superfood ingredients that are all organic and GMO free. These include spirulina, chlorella, turmeric, matcha green tea and the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha.
As well as providing a vast array of essential micronutrients, this product is a powerful detoxifier, it helps reduce inflammation, it supports the immune and circulatory systems, and it helps combat the effects of stress on the body. Apart from that, it gives you more energy and can help with weight loss too. It tastes quite good for a greens powder as well – if you like the taste of mint that is.
Next best is probably Athletic Greens, which contains 75 whole food ingredients, most of which are organic, and all are processed without heat. The ingredients include a superfood complex, a blend of herbs, mushrooms, digestive enzymes, adaptogens, probiotics and a multivitamin and mineral complex.
Specifically formulated for active people, Athletic Greens is excellent for gut health, detoxification and stress support, as well as giving you more energy and helping to support your immune system. It tastes quite good too. The downside is that it is expensive, but it is worth it, especially if you are looking for something that gives you virtually everything you need in one supplement.
Other excellent choices include Vibrant Health Green Vibrance, Controlled Labs Orange OxiMega Greens and Garden of Life Perfect Food. And, as all greens supplements are different, it makes sense to alternate between two or three different brands, rather than sticking to the same one all the time.
So, while it is true that no supplement can take the place of a healthy balanced diet, and you should always try to eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables every day, it’s equally true that a good quality greens powder supplement, taken each day, can make a very positive contribution to anyone’s diet and overall long-term health.