Supplements for super foods

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Forget swallowing tablets and capsules. In the supplement world, superfood powders are all the rage — they claim to be made from real produce and plants and are supposedly packed with super-amounts of nutrients.

Vegan blogger Jordan McMullen has her morning smoothie down to a science.

“It has spirulina in it. It has a blend of different grasses,” McMullen said.

She’s hoping to pack in the power of more than 10 different super foods using just four scoops of these special powders.

“I blend everything together, along with whatever vegetables I have in my fridge,” said McMullen.

Industry experts are calling them “the new multi-vitamin” — nutrient-dense superfoods that are boiled-down or freeze-dried into powder form. Also known as “greens powders”, these dietary supplements claim to do everything from detoxify and energize to promote weight loss and contain ingredients that may help you ward off disease.

“They’re looking for a way to have some sort of nutritional insurance. And it’s also something where they feel like they are managing their well-being on a day in, day out basis, which is very powerful,” said Dr. Daniel Fabricant with Natural Products Association.

Research shows dietary supplements may benefit people with a vitamin deficiency, but, there is little scientific evidence on powders.

“It’s not a 100 percent guaranteed that everything that was in the food is now in the powder. It could be that the phytochemicals got lost in the processing, or even some of the vitamins,” said Joan Salge Blake, RD American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Some brands also contain added sweeteners and little fiber, meaning they won’t fill you up like whole fruits and veggies.

“When it comes to really using a diet to reduce the risk of the leading causes of death of Americans, and that’s heart disease, certain cancers, stroke and type two diabetes, nothing is going to beat real food,” said Blake.

Experts say, keep in mind that some ingredients found in supplements, like protein and fiber, are also being added to conventional foods, so you may be getting more of them than you think.

“Ideally, people are going to eat a well-balanced diet across the board, but not many people do that, so the whole point is really to supplement the diet,” Fabricant said.

The natural products association agrees. Jordan sees her doctor several times a year and says that her diet is in check.

“I just try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible,” Fabricant said.

Because superfood powders are regulated as supplements, they haven’t been approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. Experts say it’s important to read labels research ingredients and call the supplement manufacturer if you have any questions.

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