Consider this post the soulmate of the green superfood powder buying guide that was originally published in 2012.
With the release of Incredible Berries, it’s high time the internets had a useful guide written about red superfood drink mixes to help people navigate the waters with these types of products.
There are less red superfood products than green, probably because there’s less mood affiliation with health for red foods and it’s more difficult to keep the product cost down. Berry powders are consistently more expensive than green food powders, and there are less ingredients you can include in the mixture to keep price down. The combination of a less developed market and lower margins probably makes companies squeamish about jumping into the fray.
But that said, there are a lot of wonderful things about berries powders, many of which you can’t get with greens.
But first, for your viewing pleasure, a disclosure:
I don’t get paid by any of these companies. I make a product of my own, but I specifically write to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, not create them. All viewpoints in this article are my own opinion, and yours might vary. I write to inform, not spin. Thanks!
Berries vs. Greens Powders
I’d sum up the main differences between the two types of products as follows:
- Better taste. Berries are naturally sweet, so it’s much easier to create a formulation that’s appealing than with a greens powder. This is especially useful for people looking to use a superfood powder with their family who might not be as tuned into healthy living as you are.
- Higher ORAC/Antioxidant Value. Most berries are naturally high in proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, and anthocyanins in greater quantities than green foods. The presence of these nutrients is due to the colors of the foods themselves, since they’re also what pigments the foods. In my opinion these compounds ought to be given the same status as vitamins since it seems abundantly clear that they’re vital for maintaining good health.
- Consistently High Quality Mixtures. As a whole the ingredients in red superfood powders are more consistent in their nutritional quality and taste, so there’s much less incentive to cheapen the mixture. The spectrum of berries powders is consistently higher than green food powders for this reason.
The Different Types of Products You’ll Find
The types of berry or red food products fall into three types:
- Rainbow Powders. These are mixtures that contain green, red, and possibly orange/yellow/purple foods, and are typically about 30% red foods by weight. Rainbow Vibrance by Vibrant Health is an example of this type of product.
- Greens powders with berries added into them. These are the most common. They usually consist of a greens powder with a portion of the mixture switched out for some berries. They resemble greens powders more than pure Red food powders IMO. Popular examples are Amazing Grass Berry Green and GreensPlus Berry Burst.
- Pure red superfood powders. These consist largely of red foods/fruits as their base with other ingredients added in to compliment the nutrients of the berries. Examples are Incredible Berries, Miracle Reds, and Fruits of the Earth.
Since I already take a greens powder regularly, the latter category is my personal favorite. They’re more unique. However, there’s no “best” type of product, it just depends on your preferences. All of the products I cited above are very good and would get my “thumbs up” if you wanted to try them.
Compiling a list of the best ingredients found in red food powders is difficult because berries are more consistent in their nutritional qualities than ingredients found in greens powders. However, here’s an incomplete list of good ones to look out for:
- Acerola cherry – Similar to acai, but more nutritionally potent. It’s a more powerful antioxidant and is >3.5% vitamin C by weight. The best of the Amazonian berries IMO.
- Bilberry and Blueberry. Good sources of lutein, very gentle effect on your blood sugar, and have very positive effects on cardiovascular health if eaten regularly.
- Schizandra berry – For a berry, it’s a remarkably powerful adaptogen and that’s used to alleviate stress and improve mental and sexual performance. (Don’t get carried away with the last part though). It’s a central tenet of east Asian herbology.
- Goji – Really a wonderful and nutritionally complete food that contains almost two dozen different minerals and a unique mix of phytochemicals like zeaxanthin and lutein that’s very well absorbed.
- Pomegranate – Powerful antioxidant that seems to exert positive benefits on a wide variety of diseases, albeit with limited research thus far.
Berries powders can be used in the same ways as greens powders, so I’d recommend looking over the green superfood powder buying guide if you want some basic guidance.
However, there’s one remarkable benefit that’s unique to a red food powder: you can use it as a sweetener and sugar substitute. Yogurt, juices, desserts, and even some baking dishes are all very complimentary to a reds powder, and for people with blood sugar problems they can be an effective way to have something sweet and simultaneously reduce the sugar in their diet.
Of course, these sorts of articles aren’t complete without getting down to brass tacks and answering the question:
Okay Jonathan, if it was your money…..which one would YOU buy?
So with that being said, here’s my brief awards list:
Best greens powder with berries: I like Amazing Grass Berry Green personally. It’s a very good mixture all by itself, and its mix of berries trumps other products in this category. And Amazing Grass is always a good bet for solid value.
Best tasting: Incredible Berries and Miracle Reds. Both do a great job of capturing the benefits of the sweet berry taste, and both have the benefit of being well rounded, robust mixtures that’d also satisfy people who are picky about the ingredient list.
Most well-rounded: Fruits of the Earth. This is because it’s primarily a berry/fruits powder, but includes a nice assortment of grasses and has a nice list of probiotics. Healthforce products are always very unique.
Most nutritious: You might think this is a cop out, but…….I honestly don’t think there’s a clear winner here. They’re all very good. I know, I know, this isn’t what some of you will be looking for, but it’s the honest truth. When I look at the labels of the different products there are different assortments of +’s and -‘s, but there’s nothing that’s head and shoulders above the rest.
Like I said, all berries and red foods are likely to have an assortment of nutrients which overlap quite a bit due to their color. There hasn’t been a flood of new entrants into this niche like greens powders, and the ones that are there are well established companies that have good reputations for quality.
(AFAIK the only exception would be me. I’m not nearly as big or widespread as the other companies listed here, so I can’t group myself with them yet, even if I’d like to. There might be other small supplement companies that make a berries powder but if they exist they don’t do a very good job of promoting themselves since I haven’t found out about them after 30+ hours of research).
For anyone who’s curious, here’s a brief comparison among the different products talked about in this article:
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Compiled on 09/22/2013. If you notice any discrepancies then please let me know.