Superfood Powder

The Unofficial Superfood Powder Buying Guide

Superfood powders are becoming more popular because of the widespread health benefits of their ingredients, but shopping for one can be a daunting task.

The ingredients are usually esoteric and the price can vary anywhere from $10-$150. And price doesn’t always equate to quality (although it usually does to some degree).

To my dismay, there’s not a good piece on the internet detailing how you ought to buy one, and which brands are the most reputable. Mike Adams wrote his opinion on a few superfood powders, but in my opinion that piece should be fleshed out a little bit.

So here’s my attempt to fill in the gaps.

Spirulina Powder

What Should You Look For?

In general, there are three characteristics you’ll want to consider when buying one of these things:

  1. Nutritional quality
  2. Price
  3. Taste

Obviously these will have differing levels of importance for everyone. I have a few customers who buy Incredible Greens solely because they like the taste. They travel a lot for work and just want an easy way to digest some greens. They know it’s good for them and honestly don’t care about the price all that much.

A seasoned raw-foodist will probably look more at nutrient density and will have a particular affinity for certain ingredients and not care much whether or not something is creamy or sweet.

It’s important to remember though that ALL these products are good for you and none of them are going to taste like chocolate milk or Kool-Aid.

With that said, the differences between the products can vary a lot and I think the following brands rank best for the following characteristics:

Price: Probably Amazing Grass. Their basic formula is inexpensive (about $30) and has very  high quality ingredients.

Nutrients: Vitamineral Green. It’s been around for decades and is tried and true. It has a big following  for a reason.

Taste: Incredible Greens. Obviously I’m a bit biased since I make it, but it has a refreshing taste plus a nice mix of rare/potent ingredients.

Understanding the Labels

Reading the label of a superfood powder can be confusing, to say the least.

However, the types of ingredients will usually consist of some of the following:

Base: Typically grasses (wheat, barley, alfalfa, dandelion) as well as lecithin (usually soy) and beta glucans.

Digestive Enzymes: These help with digestion and absorbance. These are imortant if you have sensitive digestion and improve the nutritional impact of the other ingredients.

Probiotics: Helpful bacteria that live within your body. In my opinion there’s no reason not to have these.

Fibers: They’re usually taken from fruits.  In reasonable quantities fibers are good but I’d be wary of something that has more than 750 mg of fibers in one serving. Fibers are healthy because of their bulk but having too much can take away from other important nutrients.

Herbs: Generally the herbs will either improve your immune system or boost your energy, and in some cases both.

Mushrooms: They’re not found often, but are becoming more popular. In my opinion mushrooms are not necessary and the nutritional value of different mushrooms can vary wildly. Sometimes, but not always, they’re disguised filler.

Greens: Self explanatory. Spinach, kale, bok choy, and parsley are probably the most commonly used ingredients. Sometimes broccoli sprouts.

Seaweeds/Algae: These are very common, and very very healthy. I’d always recommend getting a powder with at least 300 mg of spirulina, chlorella, and some other seaweed.

Best Superfood Ingredients

Best Ingredients

To be honest, there’s no hard and fast rule about which ones are best and worst.

Furthermore, most of the manufacturers make it difficult because they don’t display the exact amount of each ingredient listed. This is a pain in the butt, and I personally have a preference for companies that clearly state how much of what is in each serving.

This makes it easy to do “ingredient stuffing” which is when someone adds a trivial amount of a whole bunch of stuff just so they can brag that they have “X amount of ingredients”, which overstates how nutritious the mixture really is.

With that said, let me give you my opinion on how to quickly judge the ingredients list.

Base: Grasses and Lecithin

Most superfood powders will consist primarily of grasses and lecithin. Wheat, barley, dandelion and alfalfa grass are all very good for you. They have slightly different health properties so I prefer one that has several instead of just one.

Lecithin is a contentious ingredient among superfood enthusiasts. It definitely helps to give the powders a smooth, creamy taste to them, and you can definitely tell the difference between powders that have lecithin and powders that don’t.  Lecithin also has a variety of unique health benefits. It consists mostly of phosphatides and fatty acids which your body uses in the Central nervous system. A variety of studies show that lecithin helps improve memory, cognitive performance, and even longevity.

What’s more, the health benefits of other foods are often enhanced when taken in the presence of lecithin. For example, this paper published in Vaccine discusses how vaccinations given with lecithin have a greater ability to boost the immune system.

Another paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that reservatrol droplets have a greater stability and antioxidant activity when digested with lecithin. So lecithin, in addition to its health benefits also gives lots of other foods an “assist” in addition to helping the flavor of the mixture.

That said, it’s not the most nutrient dense compound, and some people don’t like lecithin in their superfood powders because they feel like it gets in the way of more important ingredients.

In my opinion if taste and mixability are important to you then look for something with lecithin. If you’re only about nutrient density then find something without it.

If you’re curious about the different health benefits of lecithin (or lack thereof) then I suggest you read my guide about the use of lecithin in superfood powders.

Other Ingredients

The list of potential ingredients is a long one and beyond the scope of one blog post. But I’ll try and do my best to give a brief run down of ingredients I like.

Algae and Seaweed: Spirulina and chlorella are a must, and pretty common. All seaweeds are good for you, but dulse is my favorite, especially dulse that comes from Nova Scotia. I have written previously about the health benefits of Nova Scotia Dulse.

Herbs/Berries/Extracts: It gets complicated here due to sheer volume and diversity, but here are my favorites:

Greens – Greens vary less in their health benefits than herbs, and thus a greater variety isn’t as important. Collectively I would look for at least 200 mg from the following:

  • broccoli sprouts
  • spinach
  • parsley
  • kale

Enzymes and Probiotics –Like I said before, I like these a lot and prefer to have both in my superfood powder. I don’t have a strong preference for one particular enzyme or another, just a nice mix.

I especially recommend digestive enzymes if you have a sensitive stomach.

Other Points To Consider: 

I’d also advise keeping the following ideas at the front of your head when buying one of these products:

  • I believe the value added by superfood powders is extremely high, but I wouldn’t recommend spending more than $70
  • Don’t judge quality simply by the number of ingredients. Some brands put in miniscule amounts of a bunch of stuff to inflate the number, and not all ingredients are created equal
  • In general focus on having large amounts of a variety of high quality ingredients.
  • It’s often a good idea to AVOID retail stores. They’ll have a higher markup and many of the best brands avoid them altogether.

Recommended Products

So with that said, let me give a few products that I like and don’t like.

For the best combination of cost/value go with Amazing Grass.

For the best combination of taste/nutrients go with Incredible Greens or Macro Greens.

For utmost nutritional density go with Boku Superfood, Dr. Ben Kim’s Superfood, or Vitamineral Green, all made by Jameth Sheridan.

The most nutritious ones are really good for you, but for many people there’s a tradeoff between taste and nutrient density. Of course they’re all very good for you and taste is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s up to you to decide where you fall on the continuum.

Resources:

In addition to the Health Kismet company blog, I’d also recommend the following resources if you’re interested in these drinks:

The Green Superfood Picker:  This is a piece of software I wrote as a result of this blog.  It provides dynamically generated “info sheets” on the products reviewed here and a customized supplement analyzer that makes recommendations based on your preferences.

Green Drink Reviews: Exactly what it says. It reviews all the different green drinks. Keep in mind that the author has been drinking these things for years and in my opinion his tastes are very different than the typical newcomer. Still a great resource though.

Antioxidant-fruits.com: Regularly does product reviews and giveaways on superfood powders and similar products. I’ve worked with the site owner in the past and can personally vouch for her integrity.

Lunch box bunch: A well maintained website that reviews a variety of superfood related products.

Hope this helps. Now do yourself and try one of these wonderful products!

59 thoughts on “The Unofficial Superfood Powder Buying Guide”

  1. I hope you could provide your opinion on Vega One, which used to be called Vega Complete Whole Food Optimizer, manufactured by Sequal Naturals. I’ve been using it for several years, along with Hemp Pro Fiber by Manitoba Harvest, and Brown Rice Protein by Heartland Organic Functional Foods.

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  2. Hi Don. I actually haven’t tried the Vega brand yet, but I actually think I’ll get around to it pretty soon. I was talking to a friend just last week about my own company and he brought up that he used Vega as well. It looks like a pretty widespread product so I should give it a shot.

    When I do I’ll make sure to either post an addendum onto this post, shoot you an email, or create a new entry. Have a great day!

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    1. Vega CWFO recently changed to Vega One, supposedly cheaper with a better serving size (1 scoop instead of 2). If you take both bottles (old and new branding) and compare ounces, price, serving size, number of servings, etc you’ll find (with basic math) that the new branding is sort of a scam – the price per serving didn’t really decrease – but the number of servings did and the nutrition isn’t as great. They just tried to pack a lot into 1 scoop and label it as cheaper. Not true.

      I’m actually glad you didn’t review it here because I learned so much about so many other green drinks I hadn’t heard of. Many of these reviews are often clouded by Vega. So thanks! But still try it to be unbiased…

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  3. Hi Jonathan. I’m pretty new to your site. I really enjoyed your review of Vitamineral Greens.
    I was wondering if have or could review another green product called All Day Energy Greens by Institute for Vibrant Living. I would be most appreciative.

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    1. Thanks Dj.

      I’ve never tried All Day Energy Greens.

      Currently I have Green Vibrance, Vitamineral Earth, and comparisons between several different superfood products (Vitamineral vs. Green Vibrance, Amazing Grass vs. Macro Greens vs. Green Vibrance, Vitamineral Green vs. Vitamineral Earth, etc) lined up at the moment.

      I was planning on staggering the comparisons inbetween the reviews of the individual powders. When I’m done with my current batch I will give All Day Energy a try! I’m also looking to review Athletic Greens, Shakeology, Boku, Dr. Ben Kim’s Greens, and Greens Plus in the near future.

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      1. Hi Jonathan, we have an amazing new product Boku SuperFuel that we would love to send to you to try! It is used by our elite athletes and endurance racers, as well as anyone looking to get a great dose of natural energy! You can email me at pr@bokusuperfood.com
        Thanks!
        Ryann

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  4. Have you tried Sunwarrior ormus supergreens or there raw vegan protein powders? I have been using for six months and love the taste as well as health benefits. Since coming across your article I am curious as how these products would compare to your top three recommendations. Thanks in advance.

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      1. Hey I forgot to ask you about a comment from an ormus supergreens from sunwarrior I will paste it here. It basically talks about thyroid issues from green drinks. Curious to know what you think…

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      2. delish Review by mish
        This mix is very delicious mixed with pure water and needs nothing else. I do add raw fresh aloe to make it extra super. it is a great buffer to hunger when you don’t really know what you want to eat; down a glass of this and wait, see if you are actually hungry. Its sweetened with Stevia, good for the pancreas and curbs cravings. I have not bought green powders in a long long time, over a year. I discovered I was doing harm to my thyroid by all my fresh green juice I made with kale or spinach or cabbage; the dark greens as raw food suppress thyroid. And so I would not buy powders with any of these raw greens, but the greens in this are fermented and do not have the same action as unfermented dark greens. So this is great, easy and yummers. THANK YOU (Posted on 1/18/10)

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      3. Michael,

        Thanks for bringing this up. There’s been a wee bit of a correlation between cruciferous vegetables and thyroid problems but plenty of other studies have revoked the arrow of causality. Here’s a good summary of all the studies done on the subject: http://www.springerlink.com/content/j63k422204767104/

        Final verdict: There’s not really anything to look at here, with the exception that there’s a *small* chance someone might have a problem with this issue if they’re genetically unique in a few different ways.

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  5. Have you tried moringa oleifera? Supposedly most nutrient-dense leafy green with 4x chlorophyll of wheatgrass. MoringaSource and It’s Moringa seem to be best brands. I like It’s Moringa because they give back.

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  6. I was wondering if there are any reviews on Perfect Food Raw, Perfect Food Super Green Formula, Raw Meal (chocolate/vanilla), and Raw Protein (choc/van) by Garden of Life. These are the products I currently use.
    Thank you very much!

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    1. Kathleen,

      There are none here, however I did have in mind an in depth comparison of vega one, amazing meal, shakeology and Garden of life meal replacement powders.

      It’d be a detailed breakdown of their relative strengths and weaknesses, although I can’t say for sure its time of arrival.

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  7. Hello,

    What are your thoughts about the trendy “Shakeology” shake’s? I would like to know how the ingredients in Shakeology compare to some of the other green formula’s you have listed. Thank you 🙂

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  8. I like your analysis of the superfood conundrum. As I evaluated which superfood powder(s) I would use, I too considered Nutritional quality, Price and Taste. But at the end of the day, “taste” became the overwhelming deciding factor. After all, if I can’t handle the taste what difference do the other factors really make?

    I think I’ve tried over a dozen different superfood powders, but I ultimately found what I consider the best tasting superfood in the most obvious way… I searched Google and Amazon for “Best Tasting Superfood” and discovered one called BodyGlo. I know that sounds wild or simplistic, but it produced a winner for me.

    I’m curios if anyone else has tried BodyGlo @ Amazon?

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    1. Dan,

      Thanks for writing, and the brand is new to me. I’d love to hear if anyone has any experience with it. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I just found your site – thank you for the great information. I just tried a Green Superfood product this morning – Dr. Axe product. Nutrition aside, it was simply horrible. The amount of stevia was overwhelming & quite off-putting. I have been attempting for several hours to get the stevia taste out of my mouth – no luck yet. Icky! I feel like the stevia is added to coerce a child to each her veggies. Rather insulting.

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  10. Don Colbert in his book about detox was really the first person I ever heard about SUPERFOODS from.
    He covers A to Z in about the shortest ammount of time I’ve ever read from . His information gave me complete understanding of what to look for in a superfood product as well as the fact that many products call themselves A “SUPERFOOD” but are not.
    I have no motive for supporting this person except after the fact that I had severe belly, gastrointestinal issues after an appendectomy about 4 years ago I read his book and it fixed me completely.
    Between good eating choices , excercises of just walking and taking a heap of “SUPERFOOD ” along with my regiment of daily vitamins of my choice, I feel very cliche to say that ‘I feel like a new person.”
    I don’t do the juiceing anymore , I only add a heap of powder of choice (which I will not tell of because , like I said, I’m not promoting anyone or any product. Just good health ) to as little water as possible with a squeezed lime for some flavor, say a prayer and gulp it down with a straw.
    Some folks don’t mind the grassy been taste, I do, but I get around it with as little calorie as possible and try not to care about the taste because it’s really is so effective. You can purchase all kinds of sweetened and flavored SUPERFOODS or add to smoothies etc. but that is just too many calories for me.
    Finding the right one without all the sugar etc. IS daunting as you say but a good one with all the RIGHT ingredients has truly has been the source of my health .

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  11. Hi. Was wondering if you can tell me if it would be ok and beneficial to add a super green powder with a protein like Vega One? I am using the Zero Belly Smoothies in addition to a healthy breakfast and dinner and really love them…but am interested in the benefits like in the Patriot or Organifi Greens. Thank you.

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