Super Powders to the Rescue
Have you heard of super powders? No, it’s not a powder that will give you special abilities, but it will help you achieve a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants promoting a healthy lifestyle. So, although you won’t get the flying powers of Superman or indestructible ability of the Hulk, science says eating a nutritious diet may reduce your risk of chronic health conditions and provide you with other health benefits. Super powders are dried food blends of grains, fruit, and vegetables. The concentrated blend forms an overall nutrient-dense product that aims to support optimum health in a portable design. Super powders are packed with flavor yet are low in calories, high in vitamins & minerals, and contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities. Everyone from social media influencers to fitness gurus are promoting super powders for boosting metabolism, improving hair and skin strength, preventing tumor growth, and enhancing memory skills, all the while providing the convenience and instant gratification that people today expect.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping for super powders is to know the difference between organic and conventional. Most conventional super powders are not gluten-free and likely contain additives and fillers used to enhance flavor or texture. Examples of additives and fillers are carrageenan which is used as a thickener and preservative, and artificial food colorings/flavorings/sweeteners which are used to enhance the look and taste. Furthermore, most super powders are fortified with synthetic ingredients and manufactured with a heating process that reduces their nutrient content. On the other hand, organic super powders use certified organic produce which contain more nutrients and are not processed with toxins or pesticides.
Author, classically trained chef, nutritionist, and fitness trainer, Teresa Cutter says there are specific ingredients that should never be in your super powder: artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and dextrin & fillers. Cutter, who also holds a certificate in nutrition from Deakin University, goes on to explain to me the reasons these ingredients should not be super powders:
Artificial sweeteners: Some negative side effects can come from ingesting these ingredients, including headaches, migraines, and gastric distress, such as bloating and acid reflux.
Artificial flavors: Food sensitivities to artificial flavors can cause a range of health problems including skin conditions, mood swings, and headaches.
Dextrin & Fillers: These ingredients can raise glycemic load, which may contribute to digestive disturbances. Most are processed with GMO corn and they can also cause gastrointestinal distress in some people.
Let’s be honest, most people don’t eat enough healthy grains, vegetables, and fruits every day. Our lives are hectic, and we don’t always have time to plan and execute healthy meals and snacks. For this reason, super powders come in handy and help fill in the gap with convenience and nutritional value. Super powders are designed to help us reach our daily recommended fruit, grain, and vegetable intake. The labels on super powders indicate they can support the body’s immunity, digestive health, detoxification, energy levels, and more. Super powders that are sourced from organic foods and are made from dried leafy greens, other vegetables, fruits, and herbs with added probiotics have varied nutritional levels, but nonetheless provide a quick and convenient solution as a low calorie, high nutrition addition to our diets. Some ways to add super powders to your daily meal plan include: mixing with almond milk and consuming as a drink, sprinkling on a bowl of popcorn for a sweet/savory flavor, shaking on top of eggs for a peppery kick, using as a topping for oatmeal for added nutrition, blending into your choice of baking recipe to sneakily add some fiber, or mixing with lemon juice and olive oil and drizzling on salad for added flavor. Another option is to consume super powders as a pre-made drink.
When combined with an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, super powders have the potential to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and high blood pressure. Here are five benefits of super powders:
We’re all familiar with the saying that when it’s too good to be true, it must not be. However, when it comes to super powders, Jamie Hergenrader from Women’s Health Magazine argues that certain superfood powders actually deliver some major benefits with few drawbacks. Hergengrader recommends these 5 super powders:
Despite all the hype surrounding super powders, there are some which should be avoided. Nootropics, for example, claim to heighten cognition and imagination when in fact they do little more than a placebo pill or caffeine boost. Medical professionals also caution patients from relying on super powders because they may interfere with other medications. For example, green powders are generally high in vitamin K which interacts with medications such as blood thinners. Also, according to registered dietitian Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD, super powders “can contain harmful contaminants, such as lead and other heavy metals. One lab analysis found contaminants in four of the thirteen products tested.” McCulloch warns that children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and patients taking medications should not use super powders as they often contain herbs and concentrated extracts that may pose risks or interactions.
Whether we like it or not, food is evolving before our eyes. These days, food that is ready on the go is in high demand. This is where super powders fit in. Research has not confirmed that super powders are a replacement for whole vegetables. The best way to achieve a nutritionally balanced diet is still the same as it was for our ancestors: eat a wide variety of whole vegetables and other natural products which requires you to chew and allows your body to absorb the natural water, fiber, and flavor of whole foods. Although the name of super powders alludes to them being an excellent source for nutrition, most experts will agree that there is no one type of food that can replace a well-balanced diet. In fact, it is unhealthy to focus on one type of food while excluding others since our bodies require a variety of vitamins and minerals to properly function.
Asma Jarad works for the national non-profit, ICNA Relief, promoting the Islamic concept that charity begins at home. Her writing is published across multiple forums and ranges in topic from health and food trends, to Islam in America.