Superfood SMACKDOWN! Essential Greens vs. GoGreens vs. Barleans

superfood smackdown

Which greens powder will win the match?

Today’s review is going to be a little bit different.  Instead of doing an individual greens powder it’s going to pit three brands head-to-head, and we’ll get to see who wins!

The decision was motivated by this email:

Hello,

I really enjoy reading your blog. There are three greenspowders I would like you to review, if you are looking for suggestions.

http://www.swansonvitamins.com/garden-greens-essential-greens-super-orac-greens-17-6-oz-pwdr

http://www.iherb.com/product-reviews/Dragon-Herbs-Tonic-Alchemy-9-5-oz-270-g/21556/?p=1

http://www.swansonvitamins.com/to-go-brands-go-greens-fruit-apple-melon-24-pkts

Thanks for writing such a great blog!

Joe G

So here we go.

Let’s meet the contestants!

Disclaimer: I do not work for any of these companies and the opinions I present are entirely my own.  Yes, I make a greens powder of my own.  It’s true.  However I write these reviews to be helpful and make customers feel empowered.  Nothing tricky going on, promise.  If I point out the benefits or drawbacks of a product it’s strictly my own opinion and yours may differ.  I’m not trying to eulogize or tear down other companies.  I think everyone I review should be commended in their own respect.

Now let’s go!

essential greens

essential greens

Challenger 1: Essential Greens

Essential Greens is most notable for its big container, reasonable ingredient list, and very low cost.  If you can look at the photo at the top of the article, it’s  the largest container of the three.  (But to be fair I only used the 15 day supply of Barleans and a sampler pack of GoGreens.  But I do believe the end result wouldn’t change if I used larger versions of these products).

It also clocked in at $1.51 an oz, which is great!  However, in my opinion it had a few ingredients that I wouldn’t want to find in a greens powder.  More on that later.

go greens box

go greens box

Challenger 2: GoGreens

Go Greens is a little bit different than the other powders because it comes in individual packets, and thus a little harder to compare.  I’m going to try and make note of this when appropriate.

barleans greens

barleans greens

Challenger 3: Barleans Greens

Barleans is a well established company, and I’ll be honest….my favorite product of the three.  It was the most traditional greens powder of the three, and is most likely to satisfy the tastes of a purist.

The Best and Worst of Each Product

Here’s a brief overview of the best and worst parts of each product.

Essential Greens:

Good:  a LOT of greens for the money, and really a pretty robust ingredient list with quite a few high end additions.

The bad: has fructose, guar gum, and xanthum gum added to it.  Guar gum and xanthum gum are analogues of carrageenan, which has detrimental effects on your health.  Fructose is fattening and not good for you.  I’ve written about its effects here and here.  Not what I’d want in a health supplement.  I tried the very berry flavor, and I thought the taste was offsetting.  It didn’t seem natural and had an unusual consistency that you could feel on your tongue.

GoGreens:

The Good: Portability!  The packs are very portable and work in the same way as the Crystal Lite flavor packets you can buy at the grocery store.  Very convenient.  The ingredients list is simple but pretty well rounded.  Many of the ingredients are organic, which is also a plus.

The Bad:  Green Vibrance and Amazing Grass also sell greens powders in packets….and that’s pretty stiff competition!  From a nutrients perspective it lacks some of the benefits those products offer.  As a percentage of total product it has a fairly small percentage of greens.

Barleans Greens

The Good: A very well rounded product.  High quality ingredients, no filler, and organic.  I also thought it tasted very good, although my tastes might be a little skewed compared to the general population.

The Bad: It’s on the expensive side.  On a $$/oz basis it costs more than many other products.

Ingredients and Nutrients

Let me briefly encapsulate my thoughts on the ingredient lists of these different products.

Essential Greens

For a greens powder that’s so inexpensive, Essential Greens has a remarkably long and complete list of ingredients.  What stood out most to me was the seaweed blend that appears fairly high up on the ingredients list.  Kombu, Noni, and Wakame seaweed are all uniquely nutritious and not commonly found anywhere.  So kudos to them.  The long tail of ingredients also has a nice compliment of different foods, including catechins, a mix of berries and digestive enzymes.

However, like I mentioned before the presence of fructose, guar gum, and xantham gum is a turnoff.  It’s also lacking probiotics but I think at its price you can’t complain, so I won’t hold it against them.

So what do I think of the ingredients list overall?  Very good for the price.  Excellent, in fact.

GoGreens

The ingredient list for GoGreens is pretty well rounded with a little bit of pizazz.  It has lots of Barley Grass juice, which is an excellent grass.  It also has acerola and acai, which are both highly nutritious berries.  Acai is well known as a superfood, but in my opinion Acerola might be the more remarkable of the two.  It also has turmeric, which is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants.  It’s a large reason why cancer incidence rates in India are so low.  It also contains Dunaliella Salina, which I noted in my Greens Plus review as a worthy ingredient.

The biggest downside is that the percentage of greens in the overall mixture is fairly low.  A serving is 8 grams, but the actual amount of that that’s greens is 1.374 grams.

Here’s a look at the label on the back:

go greens label

go greens label

There are plenty of good ingredients on the back besides that, but for something that’s marketed as a greens powder that’s on the low side.

Barleans

The ingredients list of Barleans fits very neatly into what one would traditionally consider as part of a well formulated greens powder.  It has grasses, algaes, some fiber (flaxseed), a mix of herbs and berries, and digestive enzymes and probiotics.  It’s a nice mix.

Overall there’s really not a whole you can critique it on.  It’s a good product.

superfood smackdown!

What one serving of each powder looks like

Taste, Texture, and Mixability

For me the hardest product to digest of the three was Essential Greens.  As you can see in the picture below, the powder wasn’t even green!  The berry flavor had a medicine like after taste and the texture in my mouth was a bit slimy and sludge-like. I didn’t find it appealing.  After time I got used to it but this was one of the hardest greens powders to get down that I’ve tried.  It also has a strong flavor and doesn’t hide particularly well.  I’m guessing I’d like the regular greens version more than the berry.

The GoGreens I had were Apple Melon flavored. At first I didn’t like the taste, but over time I became accustomed to it and found it much more enjoyable.  It’s a bit tart and also flavored with Stevia.  It definitely does not taste like a traditional greens powder.  It mixes very well, I’d guess due to the presence of lecithin.  So overall I’d give GoGreens a “thumbs up” on taste….although it’s definitely distinct, so opinions may vary.

I found the taste of Barleans to be very enjoyable, but it has a very strong grassy after-taste.  I’m used to drinking greens powders, so it generally agreed with my priors about how greens powders are supposed to taste, so that’s probably the reason why I found it enjoyable.  Its texture was very fine and mixes very well with water, juice, and other concoctions.

superfood smackdown!

one serving of each greens powder mixed in water

Price and Value

The $$/oz for a 30 day supply of each of the products looks like this:

GoGreens: $5.16/oz

Essential Greens: $1.51/oz

Barleans Greens: $4.93/oz

As you can see here, Essential Greens really comes out ahead.  And for a greens powder that also has a decent ingredient list, that speaks a lot to its value.  I’m honestly not even sure how they manage to sell that much and still make a profit.  I couldn’t sell that amount of greens powder and still make a profit.

Concerning GoGreens it’s important to remember that packets are always going to be more expensive than a tub, so it’s not on an even playing field.  A better comparison would be to compare the price of GoGreens to packets of Amazing Grass or Green Vibrance.  Then it looks like this:

Amazing Grass: $5.19

Green Vibrance: $4.50

GoGreens: $4.13

So from this point of view it’s clear that its price is well within an acceptable range for its type of product.  It’s actually a very good value.

So when you compare apples to apples Barleans is the most expensive.  For example here’s the $$/oz price of Barleans compared to some other competitors:

Barleans: $4.93

Green Vibrance: $3.93

Amazing Grass: $3.54

Vitamineral Green: $3.40

All Day Energy Greens: $3.56

So there is a bit of a premium.  But I do believe it’s good stuff.

Conclusion and a Comparison Table

To bring the comparison into greater clarity here’s a table that compares the different features of the three products listed in this review:

Name
Mixture Type
# of Ingredients
Lecithin?
Stevia?
Enzymes and Probiotics?
Fiber
Taste
Organic
Raw
Vegan
Price on Website
Price on Amazon
$$/oz on Company Website
Vitamins Added?
Review
GoGreensBalanced29yesyesnoyesapple and melonyesn/an/a34.9524.99 (24 packets)$5.16/ozno
Essential GreensBalanced49nonoenzymes, no probioticsyesberry flavorednon/an/an/a24.14$1.51/ozno
BarleansBalanced34noyesyesyesvery grassyyesn/an/a, but probably41.9734.63$4.93/ozno

*I’ve listed some details about how I came up with the numbers in this table at the bottom of this post*

And overall, what do I think?

If I had to pay with my own money, I’d choose Barleans.  This is no disrespect to the other products, because I don’t have much of a need for to-go packets,  and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to greens powders so I’m cofortable paying a premium.  You can make your own decision.  Like I said, I write these reviews to pay homage to these different products, not tear them down.  Think about their unique benefits and match them to what you prioritize.

If you’re looking to do some useful comparison shopping for these particular products, I believe these are the closest comparisons out there:

Essential Greens: Dr. Schulze – because it gives a LOT of greens for the money (however their ingredient lists are very different)

GoGreens – Amazing Grass and Green Vibrance packets.

Barleans – Vitamineral Green, Amazing Grass Regular tub.

Hope this is helpful!

Notes about the Table

I used the 30 day serving for each product to calculate cost and cost/oz, or the closest equivalent I could find.

If the product is not sold directly on their website I used the price on Amazon instead.

I determine the number of ingredients with the following methods:

  • I use the ingredients listed directly on the label, and not the ingredients listed as “other” below it
  • I count different digestive enzymes and probiotic strains as their own separate ingredients
  • I don’t count added nutrients as an ingredient.  (Ie, if vitamin C is added then it’s not counted since it’s not a “food”)

Sometimes this results in ingredient counts which are not the same as what’s listed on the label.  I’m not trying to be dishonest, just trying to give the most relevant number.

If you have any responses or corrections to make then please let me know and I’ll make the necessary changes ASAP!

Au revoir!

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incredible greens

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About Jonathan Bechtel

Owner of Health Kismet, maker of Incredible Greens, a green superfood supplement that combines 35 different raw greens, herbs, probiotics, grasses and fruits into a sweet tasting powder.

Comments

  1. Eileen S says:

    Hi Jonathan, I really like your reviews. I read another review of greens powders that spoke about high levels in some greens powders of lead and cadmium. Can you comment on this information? Thanks.

    • Jonathan Bechtel says:

      Eileen,

      I don’t think you have anything to worry about. There are likely trace amounts of each in most greens powders due to the sheer number of ingredients, but the thresholds for each that are allowed in a product are well below what might be considered toxic.

      I just spoke with a manufacturing rep about a berries powder I’m about to make and it tested out as having 1mcg of lead in it, but the bottle will still have a warning about it! In some states there are labeling laws requiring this sort of thing.

  2. Vince Risi says:

    Hello, I would like to know if there is significant value to consuming fresh cold pressed juicing of greens vs a high quality powder concentrate like Barleans

    • Jonathan Bechtel says:

      Vince,

      This is a good question. There are a number of benefits of consuming fresh cold pressed juice compared to a greens powder like Barleans, because there are a lot of compounds that are sensitive to oxygen and degrade easily during the manufacturing process, even if a lot of care is taken to minimize exposure.

      That said, if cold pressed juice just seems too difficult, then a good greens powder is usually a decent substitute.

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