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Green Superfood Powders: Benefits and Uses

Published: November 9, 2018

Green superfood powder

Whole food powders made from nutrient-dense green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach, and other green foods have been catching on among superfood enthusiasts. Here, we take a look at 6 green superfood powders and their potential health benefits, plus provide tips on how you can incorporate them into your diet.

1. Moringa Powder

Grown throughout the sub-tropical and tropical regions of the world, the nutrient-dense leaves of the moringa tree are loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins. Because of their high nutritional value, moringa leaves have been used to fight malnutrition in developing countries. Some people also use moringa tea for weight loss—however, the evidence supporting the use of moringa as a weight loss aid is somewhat limited. Other potential health benefits of moringa include improved blood glucose control, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and protection against cancer.

How to Use: Some of the tastiest ways to use moringa powder include blending it into green smoothies, adding it to pureed soups and sauces, and incorporating it into popsicle recipes. Some people also like to use moringa instead of matcha for their 'green lattes'.

2. Spirulina Powder

Another green superfood powder promoted as a weight loss aid is spirulina. And, unlike the fat-burning properties of moringa, the weight loss benefits of spirulina have actually been evaluated in studies involving humans.

In one study, three small doses of spirulina a day resulted in a small but statistically significant reduction of body weight in obese people over the four-week trial period, while another study found that spirulina promotes fat burning during exercise.

Other potential health benefits of spirulina powder include improved blood glucose control, cardiovascular benefits, and protection against pre-cancerous oral lesions. Some people also claim spirulina is good for treating acne because of the anti-inflammatory fatty acids and other nutrients it contains.

How to Use: Delicious ways to use spirulina powder include mixing into hummus, adding it to salad dressings, blending it into smoothies and soups, and incorporating it into enery bar recipes.

3. Spinach Powder

Fresh spinach is loaded with beta-carotene, and research suggests that carotenoids such as beta-carotene are not particularly easily destroyed when foods dehydrated. This means that also spinach powder is supercharged with beta-carotene.

Spinach is also known for its relatively high iron content, and when fresh spinach is dehydrated to make powder, the iron content of spinach becomes extremely concentrated. It is worth noting, though, that the iron in spinach is non-heme iron which is not as easily absorbed by your body as the heme iron found in animal sources.

If you are thinking about incorporating spinach powder into your diet, it is best to buy organic spinach powder because conventionally grown spinach is often laden with pesticides. It may also make sense to go organic if you are worried about the high nitrate levels in spinach because research suggests that organic spinach is typically lower in nitrates.

How to Use: Spinach powder makes a great addition to green smoothies, soups, sauces, salad dressings and egg-based dishes like omelettes and frittatas.

4. Matcha Powder

Don't confuse matcha with maca powder, yet another superfood that has been booming in popularity. While they may sound alike, there are major differences between matcha and maca. Most importantly, matcha is made from the leaves of the tea plant, so it boasts a beautiful green color and qualifies as a green superfood powder, while maca powder is made from a root vegetable.

Like many other green superfood powders, such as moringa and spirulina which we already discussed above, matcha has gained a reputation as a weight loss superfood powder. Matcha contains Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine, both of which may help speed up metabolism, so it is easy to see why people believe matcha can help you slim down.

The purported weight loss promoting properties of matcha were put to the test when a group of scientists from the UK and Turkey investigated whether matcha could help women burn more fat during exercise. This study, which was published in the September 2018 issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that matcha did indeed enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation in the study participants during a 30-minute walk. However, the researchers were also fast to point out that the "metabolic effects of matcha should not be overstated" when related to weight loss.

How to Use: Mixing matcha with hot water to create a beautiful green beverage may be the best known way to use matcha, but you can also use this green superfood powder to make matcha lattes and to add color to desserts and other dishes.

5. Kale Powder

Both fresh and frozen kale are readily available at supermarkets, but did you now that some health food stores also sell kale powder? And, like its fresh and frozen counterparts, this green superfood powder is packed with nutrients and health-protecting phytochemicals.

In fact, on a weight-for-weight basis, kale powder beats fresh kale in terms of nutrient content because the process used to make kale powder concentrates the nutrients and other health-giving compounds abundant in kale. A study published in the August 2013 issue of the Journal of Food Processing and Preservation found that air-dried kale contained a whopping 158 milligrams of carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) and 646 milligrams of chlorophyll per 100 grams, while fresh kale contained 28.1 milligrams of carotenoids and 121 milligrams of chlorophyll. And, freeze-dried kale powder contained even more of these health-giving compounds.

Freeze-dried kale powder also contains glucosinolates which function as precursors to cancer-fighting isothiocyanates. That said, the glucosinolate content of kale can vary greatly depending on the type of kale, with black kale (lacinato) generally outshining curly kale, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Quality in 2017.

How to Use: Incorporate kale powder into green smoothies and soups, add it to sauces, dips and salad dressings, or sprinkle it on a mixed salad before serving. Or, use it to and color and nutrients to omelettes and scrambled eggs.

6. Broccoli Powder

Given that broccoli and kale are botanically closely related, it is not surprising that broccoli powder offers many of the same health benefits as kale powder.

The perhaps most interesting potential health benefits of broccoli powder are linked to its high concentration of glucosinolates, particularly glucoraphanin. When exposed to an enzyme called myrosinase, glucoraphanin can be converted into sulforaphane, a phytochemical that has been extensively researched for its potential anti-cancer effects.

In fact, an increasing body of evidence indicates that sulforaphane may help prevent cancer through multiple mechanisms. For example, it has been shown to induce phase II enzymes which are involved in the elimination of mutagens; to promote self-destruction of cancerous cells; and to inhibit NF-κB, a protein complex that is involved in the initiation, development and spread of cancer.

How to Use: Use broccoli powder the same way you would use kale powder. Broccoli powder also makes a nice addition to pesto recipes.