“Green” Formulas: What to Look For

So you’ve decided to consider the purchase of a green formula because, well, you don’t eat enough produce. Before we go any further, it’s improtant to mention that the term “green food” has been broadly applied to supplements using produce in powdered form for the purpose of providing consumers with the beneficial phytonutrients contained in fruits and veggies. Green food suppements are supposed to be good for you. Why? Because produce is loaded with nutritious, health promoting, energy bolstering, alkalizing phytonutrients. Sweet. So, with all the products out there, which one should you thrown down your cash for? That’s a good question. I’m going to give you a few things to consider before you purchase your next bottle of (what should be) superfood goodness.

  1. What types of produce does the product include? Keep in mind that what you want are ingredients known to be phytonutrient powerhouses; wheat grass, barley grass, kale, spinach, beets and berries. If you see ingredients like apples and bananas, there’s cause for concern.
  2. Potency. This isn’t always an easy one to figure out. “Proprietary Blends” are pretty common in this type of product and that might make it tough to determine the actual potency. If you are faced with a proprietary blend, the only half way decent shot you have of determining the potency is to look at the ingredient list. Obviously, the ingredients list items in the order in which they are present in the formula; greatest to smallest amount. Problem is, 10 ingredients can be listed and the formula can contain 95% of the first ingredient and only tiny amounts of the rest. That sucks. Assuming you are considering a product that actually discloses the amount of each ingredient, take a moment to consider those amounts. I’ve seen plenty of products with a laundry list of ingredients and only a few milligrams of each! Flooding the product with every ingredient under the sun might look good at first glance but when you consider that only miniscule amounts of each ingredient are contained in the formula, you start to feel like you’re being had; because you are!
  3. Whole Food Powder vs Juice Powder. This is a big one. MOST of the formulas that litter the market contain whole food powders. Surely, this a good thing; whole food is best! Right? It certainly is. However, in the case of (what should be) a high potency dose of phytonutrients, the objective of the consumer is to find a product that crams the most nutrition possible into each serving of that product. How do you do that? Consider the premise behind juicing vs eating whole food. How do you extract the nutrients from an amount of produce that would otherwise be unrealistic to consume? You juice it! Basically, you remove the fiber. This is done to accomplish two things: make it easier to digest and concentrates the nutrients. Which is more concentrated; 1 oz of wheat grass or 1 oz of wheat grass juice? I’d go with the juice…easier to digest too! In all fairness, sometimes using the whole powder is preferred over juice because it results in a higher nutritional potency. Such is the case with berries; using whole powder results in a higher ORAC value than juice powder. All that being said, most companies use more whole food powder than juice powder (if they use any at all) because it’s SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. Not usually the way to make the most potent product though.
  1. Added fiber. If you have to deal with the fiber that is naturally occurring in an ingredient (berries for example) in the name of achieving a higher phytonutrient content, that’s one thing. However, in a supplement like a greens food product, adding fiber is usually done for one reason and one reason only; cheap filler to boost serving size! A company may choose to showcase the fiber content when marketing the product in hopes that the consumer will say “Wow, this product has a good amount of fiber in it. That’s great! I’ll take it!” Rip off. Very expensive fiber!
  2. FOS. The inclusion of ingredients like FOS and inulin and market them as pre-biotic fiber has become very popular. There are two reasons I prefer to avoid products with these ingredients. First, as stated above, the addition of these ingredients is usually done as a way to cheaply boost serving size. Second, a lot of research is now showing that these ingredients are equally effective at feeding bad bacteria! That’s not surprising because many people experience gastrointestinal upset from these ingredients. Either way, I’d rather not have these ingredients in my product.
  3. Organic? This might or might not be important to you. Considering that these products contain produce that has been concentrated, whatever chemicals the produce has been treated with is now concentrated in your product. For me, I’d prefer a product that is organic. The reality is, the only thing that stops some manufacturers from using organic ingredients is cost.
  4. Just how GREEN is it? After all, we ARE looking for a formula that is supposed to considerably green, right? Point being, many products have a profile that has some green stuff but not a whole lot of it. My advice is to look for products that have a significant amount of green ingredients and doesn’t just call itself a green food supplement. Of course, there are red, purple and even orange food formulas and I’m sure many of them pack a nice dose of phytonutrients. But if you want a green formula it should be, well, fairly green.

A product that is comprised of meaningful organic ingredients, is predominately green, uses a solid ratio of whole food : juice powders and doesn’t contain any added fiber/ FOS is one that I would spend my money on. As with most other products, anything containing the term “proprietary blend” might or might not be any good and makes it that much more difficult to figure out if the product is something you should hand over your hard earned cash for. But that’s just me.

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