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Spring is in the air & already I’m loving the longer days, warmer mornings & menu changes. This is the time we clear out the clutter & cobwebs from home, & many will also do something similar with their ‘body-home’ too. Spring detox is a good idea – as the warmer weather is a great time to get into ‘cold foods’ like smoothies & juices, salads, raw fruit & veg etc. Winter often means colds & flus, medications, heavy foods, desserts, more sleeping, & less exercise / outdoorsy-time, which can leave you feeling sluggish after a few months & motivated to ‘detox’ or do a bit of an internal spring clean. If that doesn’t motivate you, the fact that bikini season is looming might!! Detoxing with the help of some supergreens can help us lose that indulgent / lazy winter flab!
‘Greens’ are the perfect springtime food supp that can support detoxification in a healthy & nourishing way. They also go perfectly into smoothies & fresh juices, which most detox plans will be based around. There are however, a few things you need to know when shopping for greens – there are some really dodgy ones out there & some great ones, here’s how to figure out what’s what!
5 things to look for when choosing a quality supergreens supplement
There are sooo many supergreens supplements out there in pills, powders, liquids, different ingredients & different brands…how do you choose a good one?!
Consider the following:
# 1 Potency
How many grams of supergreens are actually in the daily dose? Check the ingredient list – some look very impressive to the untrained eye, with long ingredient lists (can be as many as 76 different things!) Just remember that in order to gain benefits from a supplement, you’ll need to be taking ‘a therapeutic dose’ of it. If the dose of each ingredient is so small that you can fit 76 different things into a 12g serve…guaranteed, you ain’t getting very much of anything! Unfortunately, with healthfood supps it’s ‘all about the ingredients list’ (smart / unethical companies know exactly what sells loads of product to unsavvy consumers – impressive ingredients lists). Don’t be fooled!
# 2 Colour / Taste / Smell
Let’s face it – most greens don’t taste great. The grasses taste like grass, & the algaes are a little seaweedy…not everyone’s cup of tea. Spirulina & Chlorella will get more pungent smelling as they age – so a good tip is to keep your supergreens well sealed or even in the fridge if you are slow to get through them or live somewhere really hot. A freshly purchased pack should be relatively mild smelling & tasting (though not pleasant).
Not even the best green supplement can help you whilst it’s sitting in your cupboard, so ideally, you want to taste before buying a big bag, to make sure it’s not so yuck you’ll never be able to drink it. Bear in mind though, like anything – you will get used to the taste, & may even start to crave it after a while. The key is to start slowly & build up the dose, & also to use other tastes to mask the greens – i.e. lemon, lime, pineapple, banana etc.
# 3 Sweeteners / Flavours
You want to know how much added sweetener & flavour have been added. Many supergreens are super-sweet & really ‘sickly’, & some have such a strong ‘natural flavouring’ added that they will overpower all your smoothies. A poor quality greens can often be a browny colour (usually full of fruit powder, fillers or sweetener) whereas a quality green powder will be just that – green.
# 4 Fillers
Watch out for supergreens that are bulked out with cheap fillers – commonly you’ll see protein powders, ancient grains, fibres, fruit & vegetable powders etc – these are all relatively cheap ingredients which you’d be much better off buying seperately (if you want them). Make sure your green supplement is just that, greens – or if there are some added extras, check that they are something you actually want & that they are in a decent dose.
# 5 Added extras
Some ‘added extra’ ingredients can be great in greens, but check that the dose is worthwhile. I recently saw a popular instant green smoothie powder that lists Goji berries as an ingredient, at 25mg per serve. Considering that one Goji berry weighs approx 1-2 g (1000 – 2000mg), & that a therapeutic dose of goji is between 10-30g (10000mg – 30000mg) you’d have to question if there’s any point having Goji as an ingredient in this formula, as the dose is so minuscule. This sort of label (unfortunately) is becoming really, really common in healthfood products – especially as the industry is being rapidly taken over by pharmaceutical / food company giants who have no background in health, but just want ‘a piece of the action’ as this previously small market grows.
So what about cost ?
In general, like with most foods – you’ll get what you pay for. There are cheap & nasty greens, there are well-priced quality greens, & there are ludicrously expensive (for no apparent reason) greens. Sometimes cost is simply in the fancy packaging, the advertising campaign, or in paying the celebrity endorsing the product. Go for no frills over packaging & celebrities – it means your money actually buys greens.
All ingredients should be organic (preferably certified), Spirulina & Chlorella should be checked for heavy metal & microbiological contamination, & cereal grasses should be tested & guaranteed to be gluten free (contamination with grain is a common issue with wheat & barley grass). Cereal grasses are generally cheaper than algae, so this can explain pricing differences in some products, depending on the formulas.
Don’t rely on marketing, ask an expert or someone who uses them!
If it’s all too hard – ask an expert or 3 for their opinion. Call / email the company with your questions. Talk to the naturopaths in your local health store, or your own practitioner if you have one…ask everyone you know who is already taking greens how it makes them feel / wether it really makes a difference. A good green, taken regularly at an appropriate dose, should make a noticeable difference quite quickly. Most commonly people report that they have better energy levels, they may find their fingernails / hair grow faster / stronger, their skin is improved, their aches & pains are less severe, gut problems can improve…these are the most common things I would hear from regular supergreens customers whilst working in health stores / pharmacies, & some I’ve noticed personally from taking them for years myself.
The main things to look for…
- ingredients are all supergreens, in decent doses – not a million other things in tiny doses. Any extras are there for a reason & are in there at a good dose. Steer clear of long ingredients lists, go for simple.
- organic, preferably certified – you want to support detox!
- no fillers / sweeteners / flavours – you don’t wanna pay for those!
- cost: beware the cheap & nasty, you generally get what you pay for, but also look out for expensive ad campaigns & celebrity endorsements.
- taste it first, be prepared for the ‘yuck’ factor with recipes.
- ask questions of other users / a professional / the company
If you have any questions or feedback for us, just leave a reply below and I will help where I can :)