On Your Health

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Superfood Powders: Are They Worth the Hype?

In a world full of culinary choices, many people simply don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables. Instead of losing out on vital nutrients necessary to carry out bodily functions, powdered versions of these whole foods have found their way onto store shelves and online marketplaces as a way to bridge the gap.

The idea of tossing a scoop of a powder into a drink and meeting your daily fruits and veggies needs seems too good to be true, and it sometimes is. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, so it can be difficult to decipher between credible claims and marketing jargon. If you’re wondering if superfood powders are worth the hype, we will provide information on if they’re good for you and what to look for when buying these products.

What are Superfood Powders?

Superfood powders are generally dried, ground up versions of whole fruits and vegetables. Some powders come from juiced foods that are dehydrated while others come from extracts.

The word superfood is a bit subjective. Officially, the FDA doesn’t recognize it as a word; neither does the science community. Instead, it’s a word used by food manufacturers to market products that have health benefits, mainly those high in vitamins and minerals. Leafy greens and berries are among the most common superfoods.

Here are some of the more common superfood powders you can find online or at your local store.

  • Acai: These purple berries come from a palm tree native to Central and South America. You’ll find acai bowls at many breakfast and health-centered eateries due to their ability to promote weight loss and slow down the aging process.
  • Baobab: This powder comes from the fruit of baobab trees native to Australia, the Middle East and parts of Africa. It is rich in vitamin C and also has prebiotic properties that aid in digestive health.
  • Beetroot: Known for its deep purple color, beets contain a type of pigment called betalain that have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to many vitamins and minerals, beets also boast nitrates that help improve blood pressure.
  • Broccoli: Most people eat this popular vegetable steamed or roasted, although you can now find it in powder form. Just one teaspoon of dried broccoli contains 25 percent of the recommended value of vitamin C.
  • Cacao: Not to be confused with cocoa powder, which is processed and stripped of its nutrients, raw cacao boasts iron, magnesium and dietary fiber. For health conscious people, cacao powder has become an add-in for smoothies and healthier dessert options.
  • Camu camu: The berries from this shrub are native to Brazil and Peru where they grow along the banks of the Amazon river. Camu camu is known for its high concentration of vitamin C – 760 percent of the recommended value per teaspoon.
  • Chlorella: A type of freshwater green algae native to the South Pacific, chlorella boasts many vitamins and minerals along with carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein. Two teaspoons of chlorella powder has a whopping 250 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12. It also is high in iron and vitamin A.
  • Kale: This cruciferous vegetable is packed with dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Kale also contains two flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol) that can help prevent liver damage.
  • Maca: This powder comes from the root of a cruciferous vegetable native to Peru. Maca has a nutty flavor and is high in iron and iodine to boost your metabolism. It also contains potassium and calcium.
  • Matcha: Think of matcha as a supercharged version of green tea. Instead of drying the leaves to be used in tea bags, matcha is ground into a fine powder. Matcha gets its bright green hue from chlorophyll, a pigment that helps red blood cell production. Matcha also contains flavonoids, which are phytonutrients responsible for cellular defense and repair.
  • Morgina: This powder from the leaves of the moringa tree – a plant native to Asia, Africa and Central America – contains eight essential amino acids, 46 antioxidants and 36 anti-inflammatory compounds. 
  • Spirulina: A type of blue-green algae found in oceans and lakes, spirulina is one of the oldest superfoods on the planet. It has more iron than spinach and more beta-carotene than carrots (just a half of a tablespoon meets the recommended daily value). Plus, it also contains B vitamins and antioxidant properties.
  • Turmeric: While used primarily as a spice for international foods, turmeric powder comes from the flowering plant curcuma longa and can be used for a number of health benefits. Turmeric contains an antioxidant compound called curcumin that boasts anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Wheatgrass: Although it may not sound appetizing, these leaves from wheat plants are among the most nutrient-dense powders on the market when it comes to minerals. A heaping teaspoon of wheatgrass is rich in chromium, selenium, iron and vitamin K.

Superfoods Powders

Are superfood powders good for you?

In general, any fruit or plant known as a superfood has similar benefits – they’re full of antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. 

What are the potential benefits of superfood powders? Here is an overview of the potential benefits.

  • Vitamins: Eating foods high in these organic substances can boost anything from your immune system (vitamin C) to helping grow strong bones and teeth (vitamin D). Other examples include improved blood clotting (vitamin K) and helping prevent Alzheimer's disease (vitamin E).
  • Minerals: A diet rich in these inorganic elements can assist your body’s ability to perform many everyday tasks, such as balancing fluid levels (sodium and potassium), creating enzymes and proteins (zinc) and regulating metabolism (copper).
  • Antioxidants: Many vitamins and minerals boast antioxidant properties, which means they can counteract free radicals. These unstable molecules can damage DNA and lead to cancer. Vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids are some of the most common substances with antioxidant properties.
  • Phytochemicals: These compounds are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their color. Carotenoids found in tomatoes and carrots may limit cancer cell growth, while flavonoids found in fruits and whole grains have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, anthocyanins found in berries can help lower blood pressure, and lutein and zeaxanthin found in leafy greens can promote eye health.

While so-called superfood powders contain many of these benefits, you’re still losing out on important fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables. Plus, fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Together, they help keep you satisfied longer and prevent overeating. 

There is a reason these powders are dietary supplements – they can supplement your diet but shouldn’t be used as a one-to-one replacement for whole foods.

What should you look for in superfood powders?

As the popularity of superfood powders increased, the manufacturers of dietary supplements combined several dried fruits, vegetables, digestive enzymes and probiotics into green superfood powders. For example, one brand contains 23 superfoods, ranging from kale and broccoli to turmeric and elderberry.

Whether you decide on a single powder or an all-in-one green superfood powder supplement, how do you know what you’re buying is worth it? Here are some tips to follow.

1. Freeze-dried and organic

Look for phrases like “freeze-dried” and “organic.” Organic products will include a stamp of approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Some supplements will add in flavors or sweeteners to enhance the flavor. Other supplements are guilty of adding fillers to bulk up the package’s weight.

2. Single-ingredient powders

When reading the ingredient list, look for single-ingredient powders – dried fruits or vegetables and no extra additives. For green superfood powders, search for supplements high in protein and fiber.

3. Third-party testing

Some dietary supplements will go the extra mile and pay for third-party testing to ensure the quality. Credible third-party companies include the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and Informed Choice for Sport.

If you decide to try a superfood powder or consistently add it to your diet, please consult with your doctor first. Some superfood powders, especially when taken in large doses, can have an adverse effect on certain medical conditions. For more information on health and wellness trends, visit the INTEGRIS Health For You blog.


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