Protein powders set the standard when it came to convenient, nutritious ways to replace meals, and since then the mass market has gone crazy for everything powdered–including superfoods. But is it really beneficial to purchase things like powdered alfalfa, powdered kale and powdered pineapple?
The truthful answer to that question is: We don’t really know yet.
Powdered superfoods, in theory, have a lot of benefits. You can potentially gain all the nutritional benefits from a plant in a concentrated form to be divvied out as you please among your meals in a day. But is there any nutrient loss in superfood powder? It’s entirely possible.
“The trap that we fall into with many of these superfood powders has to do with their exotic origins and the nutritional buzzwords attached to them,” explained Dr. Roussell on Shape. “There is something alluring about these foods being used by ancient cultures in faraway jungles that causes us to assume that they must be better for us than the regular foods we are currently eating.”
Roussell indicated there is currently no substantial evidence that superfood powders are any better for us compared to eating those foods unpowdered and similarly, there is no substantial evidence suggesting powders are worse for us in any way. Much of the appeal is in the marketing; people know superfoods are good for them and protein powder is now a staple in an athlete’s nutrition program–why wouldn’t a powdered superfood be just as good?
Good or bad may be irrelevant, however, since powdered superfoods fall under the category of dietary supplements. This means, as far as the Food And Drug Administration is concerned, there doesn’t need to be much regulation on them or their ingredients. Superfood powders simply can’t make claims to cure or treat a medical condition. Beyond that, what they contain isn’t considered of much concern to the government. You may think you’re purchasing powdered kale, when in fact, you’re purchasing a green powder that’s mostly “other” plant material.
What’s the best thing about superfood powders that we do know?
They can be considerably less expensive than purchasing the whole food counterpart. Superfood powders may also be the answer to obtaining the correct amount of servings of vegetables a day. For most people it is difficult to get 8-10 servings in.
“Super greens like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass are high in antioxidants and great sources of protein. Realistically, a busy person wont eat 10 portions of vegetables a day,” nutrition therapist Eve Kalinik told The Telegraph. “I think its physically impossible for us to take in the amount of minerals and vitamins we need in our diets, even by clean eating, because were surrounded by toxins. Most of us live in polluted cities, we have stress in our lives. Nowadays we need to have some level of supplementation. The super-green powder is a condensed, dried powder version of the food source itself, and is a far easier, more convenient way to add those vegetables to your diet.
So, while you can’t always bank on the exact contents of your superfood powder, there are some significant benefits to adding this form of supplement to your diet. Just be sure not to exclude the real-deal fruits and veggies in your meals. Until more research is done on superfood powders, there is no replacement for the whole version in regards to vitamins and nutrients.