Ranking the best green superfood drinks of 2017

Green superfood powder drinks are on the rise.

People are consuming green drinks to lose weight, increase energy, boost mood and improve the immune system.

It’s no secret that eating vegetables is a simple and easy way to achieve all four of those goals and more. But eating 10+ vegetable servings per day is tough, especially for on-the-go lifestyles.

That’s where green powders come in. Think: nutritional insurance

1. Garden of Life Raw Organic Perfect Food

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“Perfect” might be a stretch, but Garden of Life’s green drink is pretty darn good. Garden of Life is known for providing vitamin and mineral supplements that use superfood extracts as a base, so green drinks are definitely home turf for them. With their Perfect Food supplement, the company flexes its superfood muscle: name a superfood, and it’s probably in this blend.

Tart cherry, chia seed sprouts, ginger, garlic, spinach extract – it’s got them all. The blend is a little weak on the fiber and protein side of things, but that’s not the purpose of the powder, in this case. If you’ve got the rest of your macronutrient bases covered, Garden of Life is a clear winner when it comes to the fruit and veggie category.

2. Natrogix Green Superfood Powder

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As far as a product that does it all, Natrogix is about as close as it comes. Its superfood blend is robust, inclusive, and comes at a high concentration.

On top of that, the product is fully one-quarter dietary fiber by weight (thanks to the psyllium husk included) and it includes a well-studied probiotic, lactobacillus acidophilus, to aid with digestion. Aside from being flavored with Stevia (if that even matters for you), it’s hard to find many flaws in Natrogix.

3. Amazing Grass Green Superfood The Original

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Amazing Grass has several popular variants of green drink superfoods, but the original is still the best. The dual-pronged approach from Amazing Grass consists of a blend of green grasses for overall health and special anti-oxidant extracts to fight inflammation and markers of chronic disease.

The green grass blend includes wheat grass, barley, spinach, spirulina, alfalfa, and broccoli, among others; these total almost six grams per serving.

The antioxidant blend is a little weaker, with some strong antioxidants like acerola cherry, acai berry, and green tea extract, but it doesn’t contain the same high-powered fruit and vegetable combo as some of the other green drinks out there.

4. Nested Super Greens

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Nested Greens is strong in the vegetable department, a bit lacking when it comes to fruits, but is definitely a category leader when it comes to probiotic content.

You’ve got your typical green ingredients, but one thing this supplement features that many others do not is a blend of six different probiotic bacteria cultures to jump-start your gastrointestinal health. Monk fruit extract acts as a natural sweetener, and a fiber blend helps keep the dietary fiber content respectable.

5. Peak Performance Delicious Green Superfood

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From the title alone, you can tell that Peak Performance is trying to fight one of the biggest stereotypes about green drinks: they don’t taste very good.

Their green drink powder is strong across all ingredient categories; it’s got the greens you’d expect to see, like kale, spinach, spirulina, and wheatgrass, alongside anti-inflammatories like blueberry, green tea, grape skin, and turmeric. The only real drawbacks (for some, at least) are that it’s flavored with Stevia and “organic flavors,” another word for natural flavoring.

6. Orgain Organic Superfoods

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Orgain delivers a very solid vegetable-heavy product that supplies a hefty serving of fiber, too. With plenty of green grasses and sprouts, you’ll definitely get your green vegetable micronutrients, and on top of that, there are seven grams of fiber per serving (your recommended daily intake is 25-30 grams).

Orgain is a little weak on the fruit and berry side of things, and it does incorporate several natural flavorings, so if you’re not a fan of those, it might impact your choice. Orgain includes a probiotic, Bacillus subtilis, but it seems more of an afterthought than anything else.

7. Organic LivFit Superfood Blend

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LivFit Superfood Blend is something of a hybrid: it’s not the best green drink out there, but that’s not its goal. The purpose of this supplement is to throw in some greens along with a more traditional protein supplement.

If this is what you are looking for, it does a fantastic job. In every 12 gram serving, fully half the mass is protein (derived from pea and hemp protein). The rest is made up of the superfood blend, which is lacking in the completeness department. For “protein plus” supplements, this one is a winner, but if all you want is the superfoods, you can definitely do better.

8. Jarrow Formulas Green Defense

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Most superfood powder throw in everything but the kitchen sink. In many ways, that’s the idea–get the biggest variety of fruits and vegetables possible, and hope that the exposure to a wide range of foods is what’s optimal for health.

Jarrow Formulas’ approach is a little different; their green drink has fewer ingredients, but they are more targeted. Each of them is a pretty well-known antioxidant or superfood, and it includes some stronger herbal extracts like ginkgo biloba and resveratrol that you might not find in other competitors.

Is the precision approach right for you? If you get a good range of fruits and vegetables in your diet already, then yes.

9. Parker Naturals Berry SuperFood

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Parker Naturals sells a popular green food drink, but when you analyze the ingredients, it’s pretty mediocre. There aren’t that many different ingredients, which means it’s exposing your body to a less extensive range of fruits and vegetables.

In addition, the superfoods that are chosen aren’t always the cream of the crop. It’s got natural flavorings in it, and is sweetened with monk fruit extract, a natural non-caloric sweetener. These are also drawbacks if you have strict purity requirements from your green drink product.

10. Hawaiian Spirulina Green Complete

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Hawaiian Spirulina dubs itself “complete,” but one glance at the ingredients tells you it’s far from it. Really this is more of a spirulina supplement, with a few other greens thrown in for good measure.

The number of green ingredients and fruits and berries is pretty small, and though it includes a probiotic, it’s not a well-studied one that’s been associated with good gut health.

Green superfood drink benefits and side effects

Here are 24 green powder ‘truths’ that should help you choosing your next green superfood cocktail:

1. Green Foods Are Full Of Phytonutrients

Green foods are more than the classic calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

They’re packed with carotenoids, antioxidantsamino acids, fiber, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

These nutrients that fall outside the box of most bioscience or online advice are known to researchers as phytonutrients. As a whole, these phytonutrients have no recommended daily values- some haven’t even been isolated and discovered yet.

But research shows that phytonutrients actually decrease diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and certain autoimmune conditions (1).

It’s the rainbow effect, where all the different chemicals in green foods actually work together much more effectively than they do in isolation.

2. Green Foods Can Triple Your Energy

All over the world men and women are complaining that they have no energy, feel exhausted, and have no clue what to do.

Many doctors are stumped, too.

Luckily, green foods pack in micronutrients in a way that is easily absorbed by the body to correct this issue according to the Journal of International Medical Research (2).

Researchers discovered that because of the typical American diet, low in plant-based foods, many men and women are low in micronutrients (3).

We may only need trace amounts of these nutrients, but they’re necessary for top-notch health and energy. 

3. With Over 10 Veggies A Day You Don’t Need A Green Powder

Green foods are convenient because you can mix them with water or take them in a capsule to ensure you get in enough greens.

There are some out there that don’t need green foods. If you already eat 10 or more servings of vegetables a day you don’t need to take are green food supplement on top of that (4).

The main idea is that once you hit 10 vegetables (and other superfoods) a day it’s redundant to add in a green powder supplement.  You’ve already got your veggies covered and that money can be better spent on different supplements to complement your diet.

4. Don’t Miss Out on Fat Soluble Nutrients

Green foods are famously low in calories because they don’t have much fat, protein, or carbohydrates.

That’s part of the reason we love them.  However, in the world of nutrition, there are two types of nutrients…

Water-soluble nutrients and fat-soluble nutrients.

Green foods actually have both, although they don’t have much fat.  This means you can miss out on vitamins A, E, and K if you don’t consume your green powders with a fat or you should take formulations that have bipolar, or amphipathic, compounds (5).  These compounds bind to water AND fat to boost absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.
It’s a win-win.

So, when you’re shopping around for a green powder look on the label for lecithin or phosphatidylcholine.  These are two popular common bipolar compounds you’re likely to find in green powder blends (6).

The other option is to take your green powders with a teaspoon of coconut oil to boost absorption as well (7).

5. Chlorella In Green Powders Boosts Immune Function

Chlorella, a common addition to green powders, is best known as a detoxifier.

Basically, because it’s tiny and has a high surface area it can cling onto heavy metals and other impurities moving around your body.  The most common way chlorella is taken for this effect is over time, not to remove all heavy metals in the body at once, but do so bit by bit over time.

Research on mice being fed lead showed that this piecemeal approach helped to prevent lead poisoning (8).

As for human research, we can’t just feed people lead and chlorella and see what happens.  For some reason that’s generally frowned upon.

But supplementing with chlorella has been seen to enhance the immune system in patients in as few as 8 weeks of supplementing (9).  Even though the detoxification benefits of chlorella are seen in mice so far, the immune function benefits in humans are real and significant.

6. Spirulina In Green Powders Increases Satiety

Spirulina is similar to chlorella but packs much more protein.

In fact, spirulina is 60% protein by weight making it the most protein-packed food on the face of the Earth (10).

Research has shown that similar to chlorella, spirulina can assist in heavy metal detoxification (11).  But again, those benefits are only tested in mice.

Luckily, when people eat spirulina they do see fat loss results (12).  It seems that spirulina works to increase satiety from its high protein content and its impressive nutritional profile making it a great snack or morning boost.

7. Kelp In Green Powders Boosts Metabolism

Kelp is another common green addition to green powders, best known as a natural source of iodine.

Typically, if you don’t regularly eat seafood you’re missing out on iodine.  While you can cook with iodine-enriched salts, those tend to quickly lose iodine during the cooking process (13).  To add in a bioavailable source of iodine to keep your metabolism on track and keep your thyroid running in tip-top shape kelp is your go to.  One recent Russian study gave a kelp extract to patients and saw a significant 10-pound reduction in fat over 12 weeks because the kelp seemed to increase their resting metabolic rate (14).

8. Barley Grass In Green Powders Lowers Cholesterol

Barley grass is another popular green food component and is most popular for lowering your cholesterol by improving fat metabolism (15).

Regularly consuming barley grass in a green foods supplement ends up offering protection against heart disease through two mechanisms.  First, with your total cholesterol lowered you’re less likely to have your cholesterol oxidized, get all sticky, and form plaque.

Second, barley grass is a potent antioxidant, meaning that it can help prevent or repair oxidative stress before cholesterol forms plaques in your body in the first place.

Not to mention that antioxidants are associated with younger, softer wrinkle-free skin so you end up looking better AND living longer (16)!

9. Wheatgrass Is Rich In Satiating Chlorophyll

While many claims about wheatgrass may be exaggerated due to its popularity, there is some merit to using a green food supplement containing wheatgrass (17).  The main benefit is that wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, the chemical that makes plants green.

One big benefit from consuming chlorophyll, amongst many, are that it helps to suppress appetite.  One study showed that chlorophyll amplified feelings of satiety to cut down on overeating for 20 obese women (18).

Additionally, chlorophyll is seen to boost recovery from injury from infection to keep your immune system going strong and dramatically cut down on sick days (19).

10. Alfalfa In Green Powders Helps Heal Your Digestive Tract

Alfalfa, the grass not the Little Rascal, is an excellent addition to a green powder supplement.

Not only is alfalfa a nutritional powerhouse just as wheatgrass, spirulina, and chlorella, but also alfalfa has been used successfully to treat upset stomachs anecdotally.

Alfalfa is seen to increase the number of digestive enzymes we pump out to improve digestion of our food (20).  This in combination with the unique blend of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamin C in alfalfa sheds some light on more of the anti-aging and longevity benefits from regularly consuming alfalfa.

11. Green Powders Are Super Convenient To Take

One of the biggest benefits of consuming a green powder is that it’s simple. 

If you had to choose between drinking a glass of water or chowing down on 10 vegetables, which would you pick?

Having a green powder makes it simple to significantly increase your nutrient intake without all the cooking, planning, and prep typically involved making it a simple and easy way to go if you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, and amplify your energy.

12. Alkalizing Claims Of Green Powders are Nonsense

It’s true, the alkalizing benefits, which sell many green powders, aren’t as “scientific” as they claim to be.

First off, what starts off as alkaline on your plate may not end up as alkaline when you absorb it.  One study looked at athletes taking alkaline supplements to change the pH of their blood and increase their exercise performance ( by boosting lactic acid threshold) (21).  The results were minimal at best because blood pH is tightly regulated and not something you can easily change with a supplement taken once a day.

A deeper review of alkaline diets and the research behind them shows that the alkaline promises are just covering up the nutrition basics of having more fruits and veggies in your diet (22).  So, while the promises of alkalizing your blood are all hype, there are real benefits to gain from eating more vegetables.

13. Alkaline diets are associated with more lean muscle mass

While alkaline diets are hyped up, the plant-based foods they promote do have a few benefits such as increasing magnesium, improving potassium levels, and increasing growth hormone (23).

One study showed that patients with chronic lower back pain fed an alkalizing diet saw less lower back pain after 4 weeks (24).

The best is that green powders can help you maintain or even build more lean body mass.  One study looked specifically at muscle wasting and showed that simply increasing potassium intake in over 363 men and women resulted in significantly more lean body mass compared to the placebo group taking a sugar pill (25).

14. Not a substitute for real veggies

While green powders are convenient and packed with health benefits, they are still not the real deal.

Even with the best ingredients, green powders are processed causing a loss in water, fiber, and nutrients pulling out some of the benefits found in vegetable consumption.

For example, vegetables can work synergistically to boost antioxidant activity in their whole unprocessed form but these same benefits are not seen in green food powders (26).

15. Green Powders Are Ideal For Fat Loss

A new study came out linking vegetable consumption with fat loss (27).  The key here is that by providing micronutrients and other often overlooked nutrients feeds the body on a cellular level to provide satiety and fight cravings.

The result? Simple and effective fat loss.

16. Green Powders Are Not A Meal Replacement

Green powders are not meal replacement shakes.  These supplements may pack a nutritional wallop, but they are super low in calories.  This makes it simple to develop poor eating habits by using green powders to replace solid foods in the hope of radical fat loss.

While green powders can help jump start your morning or pick you up in the afternoon it is still key to consume enough calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to encourage maintenance, growth, and repair.  Otherwise, your immune system, muscle recovery, and organ systems won’t be functioning optimally.

17. Be Careful Of Heavy Metal Contamination in Green Powders

As with many supplements, you have to keep your eye out for poor-quality formulations.

Unfortunately, along the path to making a supplement, there may be contamination with heavy metals.  Most notably, there is lead, cadmium, and arsenic (28). 

18. Green Powders May Have Low Amounts Of Promised Vegetables

Another pitfall of green food supplements is the number of ingredients.

While it may seem amazing to offer a variety of green, some labels boasting dozens of vegetables, this may be misleading.

While companies have to report what goes into their formulations, they don’t have to post how much goes into their formulations.  The rule is that the ingredients are listed in order of amount used.  Now, with numerous ingredients, companies can use small amounts to say they use an ingredient BUT it may not be enough to make a difference in your health.

This one is tough to figure out for yourself because you’ll have to do your research into whichever green food supplement you select.  For the most part, using a brand with many testimonials that show results is your best bet.

19. Herbal Extracts In Green Foods May Have Side Effects

There seem to be more and more green food supplements these days adding in herbal ingredients to their formulations.

Now, I love herbal extracts but just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it is safe.  Many herbs out there can help with weight loss and improving your health but can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

The issue is that many men and women don’t consider herbal extracts as medicine they take even though it can interfere with other medications they are prescribed.  This can lead to further health complications and may even kill you.

20. Green Powders With Probiotics Have Long-Reaching Health Benefits

Another trend in green powder supplements is to include probiotics.

Having them in a green powder basically kills two birds with one stone.

By adding in probiotics you fuel the “good” gut bacteria you have that has long-reaching health effects from making you feel happier, increasing satiety, and boosting your immune system (29).

21. Prebiotics In Green Powders Triple The Efficacy Of Probiotics

Along with probiotics, green food powders come with prebiotics too.

Essentially, prebiotics are the food that probiotic bacteria eat.  It makes sense that you want your probiotics to eat the best and stay the healthiest to make them even stronger and more productive in your gut, right?

In your gut the same story is playing out.  Without prebiotics to feed your “good” bacteria, the “bad” bacteria can start growing stronger and overpowering that “good” bacteria.

Don’t worry though, if your green powder doesn’t have prebiotics then make sure you get enough, around 35 grams, of fiber a day.  That’s what your good bacteria thrives on.

22. Probiotics in Green Powders May Be Already Dead

If you know anything about probiotics, know this:

Probiotics are only beneficial if they’re still alive (30).

Otherwise, they won’t be able to carry on and prosper inside your gut.  Unfortunately, many green food supplements are not typically refrigerated or handled as carefully as probiotic supplements are causing many of the probiotics to die before you can start taking your green powder (31).

So, it may be beneficial to take a separate probiotic supplement aside from your green powder supplement to make sure you’re getting those probiotic benefits.

23. ORAC Scores Of Green Powders May Be Misleading

A big advertising promise of many green foods companies is the ORAC score, or the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.  Basically, this is a number to express how well a nutrient can fight oxidative stress.  The same type of stress that causes wrinkles, aging, inflammation, and disease (32).

The issue here is that ORAC may not be the best measure for antioxidants and you may be misled by companies using their green supplements ORAC scores to persuade you to buy.

The issue is that ORAC scores are calculated in vitro or in a test tube environment.

Since the body is much much more complex ORAC scores in the test tube might not represent what actually happens once a green powder goes down the hatch.

A great example of this is the Vitamin E Paradox.  The paradox is that vitamin E is actually a strong antioxidant BUT it has a surprisingly low ORAC score (33).  The bottom line is that while science and research do the best they can, they can’t predict exactly how a supplement is going to work in your body.

Again, it’s for the best to actually try out or get feedback from real people to discover what brands actually work.

24. Green Powders Can Interfere With Recovery

Antioxidants are a double-edged sword in the world of recovery and muscle growth.

If you take antioxidants too quickly after a workout, you can actually blunt the oxidation and inflammation that follows.  That may sound ideal, but your body needs that oxidative stress to signal that you need to come back stronger, faster, and more enduring than before (34).

On the other hand, if you’re sore the next day after a workout then sipping on green powders will provide many of the essential antioxidants and nutrients you need to support immune function to overcompensate and build larger muscles to come back stronger next workout.

Recap

Green powders are great to start your day and can be argued as one of the more “justified” supplements since most people do not consume enough vegetables.

Adding a green powder superdrink to your daily regime is a great way to hedge a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle.

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