You may be interested in taking a green drink for a variety of reasons. From wanting a rich source of nutrition, improving energy, facilitating detoxification, supporting healthy digestion, or bettering immune function, greens drinks can support your health in many ways. But greens drinks can be confusing. From the long list of ingredients found on the label, to the different formulas for different health goals, you may not know what to look for in to find a quality green supplement.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about greens drinks. From the ingredients you’ll see on the label, to recommendations on how to take them, and finally, how they can make you feel.
What’s In Your Green Superfood?
Although green superfood formulas may differ, there are some superstar ingredients you’ll find in most formulas. Here’s a breakdown of some of the major players you’ll find in greens supplements:
- Grasses: Grasses are a great source of nutrients. They contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help boost your immune system and facilitate detoxification. Grasses are very high in protein. They also relieve constipation and improve digestion, lowering cholesterol levels in your body. Chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives grass its colour and is responsible for photosynthesis, helps cleanse toxins from your bloodstream while providing antioxidants that help fight free radicals that damage cells throughout your body. The most popular grasses you’ll find in green drink formulas are barley grass and wheat grass.
- Sea vegetables: Sea vegetables are among the richest sources of iodine in the world. Iodine is crucial for the production of your thyroid hormone by the body. Low iodine levels are associated with changes in metabolism and fatigue, as well as enlargement of the thyroid gland (also known as goiter). The most common sea vegetable you’ll find in green drinks is kelp, which supports thyroid health, inflammation reduction, weight loss and healthy hair.
- Blue/green algae: Blue/green algae (a.k.a. cyanobacteria) are single-cell organisms that grow naturally in ponds and lakes. Considered among the first organisms to appear on earth, these nutritional powerhouses are some of the most “complete” foods on the planet, containing all essential amino acids and vitamins. Cyanobacteria help to lower inflammation, support detoxification by binding to toxins, and may support a healthy heart, blood sugar metabolism, or support allergies and athletic function. Both spirulina and chlorella are blue/green algae that are commonly found in green drinks, offering a rich source of nutrients and numerous health benefits.
- Extracts: Herbal extracts bring you the most potent benefits of that particular herb, in a measured dose. Some superfood formulas may include extracts of milk thistle (for liver health), green tea (for antioxidants and energy), or ginseng (for energy and stress support).
- Probiotics: Some superfood blends add a probiotic to their formulas. Probiotics are also known as our healthy gut flora; they help to support optimal digestion and can also help us absorb more nutrition from the food we eat. It is worth pointing out that these probiotics won’t replace a standalone probiotic supplement.
- Fibre: Did you know that one in four Canadians will struggle with constipation? It is more important than ever to increase our fibre intake (most experts are now recommending upwards of 30 grams of fibre per day). Apple fibre, flax, and rice bran are just some of the many sources of fibres found in greens formulas.
- Phospholipids: A phospholipid is a type of lipid molecule that is the main component of the cell membrane. One such phospholipid you’ll find in green drinks is lecithin. Lecithin supplements help to increase the antioxidant capacity of all the superfoods contained in your greens drink. It is also supportive of brain health, high cholesterol and digestive issues.
- Veggies and Fruits: Beet, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, spinach, kelp, and kale are some examples of the vegetables commonly found in greens powders. These vegetables provide a rich source of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants that have been shown to promote health when consumed regularly.
Sprouted or Fermented?
Some superfoods will be made with sprouted or fermented ingredients. The sprouting and fermentation process can help to make some of the nutrients contained in these superfoods more bioavailable to your body, although this is not a requirement when looking for a greens blend.
How to Use Your Green Superfood
Green superfoods are an incredibly convenient way to get your daily dose of superfood nutrition. Most superfoods will be sold in powder or even liquid format. Although you may also find some superfood formulas in energy bars. When using a powdered superfood:
- Start slowly. It is generally recommended that you start with one-third of the dose listed on the product label and slowly work your way up to a full dose in order to reduce the chance of gastrointestinal effects from all those cleansing greens.
- Take your superfood earlier in the day, as green superfoods can increase energy. You can also try taking your green superfood in place of your afternoon coffee.
- Green superfood formulas can be shaken with water or juice, blended into smoothies or used in recipes. Do what’s most convenient for you! Although many people find that it’s easiest to get their daily superfoods by drinking with water or adding to a smoothie, rather than adding the powder to recipes. It is also worth pointing out that it is best to avoid heating your green superfood (don’t use it in baking recipes) in order to maintain optimal nutrition and enzyme content.
Finally, have you ever wondered how you’ll feel when you take a green superfood drink? Some people report feeling a lift in energy or find that their digestion gets back on track with less bloating. Some people report getting sick less often, or feeling more clear-headed and able to take on the demanding tasks in their day. Others feel more peace of mind because they’re giving their bodies essential nutrition, particularly if they don’t have time to eat perfectly every single day, or if they travel a lot and want to make sure that their nutritional bases are covered. Most people will report feeling any combination of these great benefits.
If you’ve ever felt confused by the sheer volume of choice available or wondered which greens drink is right for you, make sure you purchase a formula that’s clean, potent and from a trusted brand.
We would recommend:
Greens Original Gluten Free by Enerex. It’s a powder format made with juiced greens and is backed by scientific research. It’s vegan, gluten and dairy free, alkalizing and offers 16 superfoods. Blended together.
Greens+ by Genuine Health is another top contender and is available in formulas for detox, energy or with an added multi vitamin. It’s also available in original, vanilla mixed fruit and other flavours as well as capsules.
Lastly, if you prefer a liquid greens, Vital Greens by Naka takes the cake. Either way, make sure you’re shopping at a good health food store where a qualified educator can help you find the right greens for you.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.