spirulina powder and tablets

Benefits of Supergreen Foods

By:
Jane Eklund
This content originally appeared on 

Health-conscious folks know the advantages of eating dark green, leafy vegetables, and that the best way to reap those benefits is through eating whole foods like spinach, kale, and broccoli. Supergreen algae and cereal grasses can build on a healthy diet and fill in the gaps.

Including spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, wheatgrass, and others, supergreens are typically sold as a concentrated green powder that can be mixed into food or drink. Some people add them to their morning protein shake or smoothie. Others mix them in water or iced tea for an afternoon energy boost. They’re also available in capsule form.

Why Go Green?

We reached out to two experts who recommend that people get plenty of green vegetables at mealtimes—and also encourage taking a supergreens supplement when appropriate.

“A supergreen food is packed with life-supporting nutrients, in addition to high chlorophyll content, which provides the deep green color and has its own unique health benefits,” says Mark Drucker, MD, medical director for the Center for Advanced Medicine in Encinitas, CA, and advisor for superfoods brand Sun Chlorella.

He added that they can be fresh foods such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and watercress; freshwater organisms such as algae and spirulina; and the young grass of grains such as wheatgrass and barley grass.

In addition to chlorophyll, Dr. Drucker cites the many nutrients found in such foods, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients like flavones, carotenoids, resveratrol, lignans, and others.

Benefits of Green Superfoods

James B. LaValle, RPh, CCN, a clinical nutritionist who consults with superfoods brand Wakunaga, highlights some health benefits of dietary greens: They help fight free radicals that can lead to cancer and heart disease; control blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels; promote the immune system; improve digestion; and balance pH.

“When I see studies showing the benefits of things like barley grass, kelp, and green algae, I think the addition of a superfoods powdered green drink is a really good thing to do,” says Dr. LaValle.

Recent studies showed the power of supergreens:

  • Weight Loss and Inflammation

    A 2020 meta-analysis found that the bluegreen algae spirulina has positive effects on weight loss and blood lipids.

    One randomized study compared a group of obese people who dieted and took 2 grams of spirulina a day to obese people also on a diet who took a placebo. Researchers found those in the spirulina group lost significantly more weight and more inches from their waist than the placebo group.

    They also significantly reduced body fat and showed lower C-reactive proteins, which indicate inflammation in the body.

  • Support for Aging Bodies

    A randomized controlled study of 50 healthy elderly men and women concluded that consuming chlorella may prevent and slow the progression of frailty in older people.

  • Resist Chronic Diseases

    Scientists reviewing research on barley grass reported that the grass has more than 30 substances that can help prevent and treat over 20 chronic diseases. Because barley grass contains nutrients such as GABA, magnesium, and B vitamins, it also helps promote sleep.

Important Notes

  • Consult with your healthcare practitioner to make sure supergreen supplements are a good fit for you.
  • Buy them from reputable companies, ideally those certified through an independent lab such as NSF or Informed Choice.
  • Skip products with ingredients other than those from plant foods, digestive enzymes, and probiotic strains.

Sources

Effects of spirulina on weight loss and blood lipids: A review” by J. DiNicolantonio et al., Open Heart, 3/8/20

Is chlorella food beneficial for elderly people? A study of the benefits of carotenoids, folate, and homocysteine” by M. Fujishima et al., presented at the 4th meeting of the Japanese Association of Sarcopenia and Frailty

Personal communication: Mark Drucker; James B. LaValle

Preventive and therapeutic role of functional ingredients of barley grass for chronic diseases in human beings” by Y. Zeng et al., Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2018