If, like many of us, you find it a struggle to fit in your requisite number of fruit and veg each day, you may have considered rounding out your diet with powdered greens. Sales of these nutritional powders have exploded in the past couple of years, and now you can take your pick from pill, powered and otherwise packaged vegetables – perfect for busy Hongkongers.
“If you’re looking for antioxidants, then you may want to consider these products,” says Stephen Ngan, a nutrutionist with JAS & Associates. “They usually contain good antioxidants that can fight free radicals. However, I wouldn’t recommend them as a substitute for real fruits and vegetables because they contain no water and little fibre [compared to fresh vegetables]”.
Ngan also encourages potential users to read labels carefully to ensure the powders contain sufficient quantities of vitamins and minerals. “You want these products to give you a good supply of micronutrients but these values don’t have to be listed by law,” he says. “You also need to keep an eye out for the term ‘extracts’ – we don’t know what part of the vegetable is being used and so it becomes a very vague term,” he adds.
So what’s a sensible way of introducing powdered greens into your diet? Ngan suggests taking a closer look at the fruits and vegetables you are eating regularly to see where you are falling short. “If you are eating a narrow spectrum of fruits and vegetables then I would recommend a supplement to boost the range of foods you are eating,” he says. “I would also look at the formula and consider whether you have any sensitivities – for example the caffeine in green tea extract.”
Powdered greens can be very potent, and for anyone considering chugging them by the bottle, more doesn’t automatically mean better. “Everything can be toxic in excessive quantities, so follow the company’s recommendations and don’t overdo it.”
Talk about multitasking – Hong Kong-based supplements company Body Awakening does a TrueGreens powder that gives your body a mineral boost and your gut a shot of healthy bacteria at the same time. The powder is made from bio-fermented whole superfoods, including mung beans, wheatgrass, spirulina, alfalfa grass and chorella. The fermentation process means that the powder also contains eight different strains of probiotic bacteria, which is freeze-dried and therefore shelf-stable (something to hide in your desk at work, perhaps?). All you need is three grams per day taken in water, juice or a smoothie.
$280 from health food stores citywide (including Just Green) and online at body-awakening.net
Another local company, Superfood Lab has worked hard to make a green powder that actually tastes awesome. SuperGreen pH contains powdered barley grass, wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, artichoke, alfalfa, parsley, nettle leaf and kelp, the rather strong flavour of which is tempered with the addition of powdered lime, kelp, apple pectin, pineapple, aloe vera, green tea and peppermint. The resulting powder is rich in iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, soluable fibre (from the pectin), omega-3 and vitamins. On the go? It also comes in travel-sized sachets for extra convenience.
$399 (tub) or eight sachets for $210. Available in supermarkets citywide, including Olivers,201-205 Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Rd., Central, 2810-7710.
Jack & Sparrow
Designed by a nutritionist, Hong Kong-based Jack & Sparrow creates certified organic superfood powders with raw ingredients sourced from New Zealand. Its Barrel of Greens blend includes Barley Grass, Wheatgrass, Spirulina and Cholrella, with a dash of Stevia for sweetness. In each packet you’ll find fibre, vegan protein, chlorophyll and vitamin C and carotenoids. Each batch is fully traceable right back to the farm so you can be sure that all you’re getting is natural green goodness. Mix with water or juice, or chuck it in a smoothie for a vitamin kick.
Can’t stomach that healthy flavour? Bypass your palate entirely and wash down all that goodness with a pill instead. Leafdrops is a new Hong Kong-based company that offers pressed spirulina tablets, made with 100 percent Australian spirulina, a blue-green algae with a fantastic nutrition profile: it’s 60 percent complete protein and is chock-full of vitamins and minerals to boot. Take 10 drops a day for general health management, or 15 for a healthy, high-protein snack to keep hunger pangs at bay.
From $120, exclusively at www.leafdrops.hk.
A relatively new player on the health food scene, the leaves of the Moringa tree have been used throughout Asia and Africa for centuries for medicinal purposes. Dubbed “The Miracle Tree”, the leaves are high in protein, fibre and micronutrients, and are also said to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Nutrigaya is a new Hong Kong-based company that offers moringa in both capsule and powder form, as well as a line of other supplements designed to aid with cholesterol control, liver balancing and calming.
The moringa powder starts at USD38.88 for 150 capsules at nutrigaya.com.