I’m no dietician; yes I have qualifications in clinical and sports nutrition, but they are quite low on the education food chain and even I recognise that they are a start point not an end point.  I can’t stop learning, and researching, and entering into debate about current nutritional thinking just because I have a bit of paper that gets older with each year.  That said, I am very much an anecdotal based learner.  I do respect science, and peer reviewed studies; evidence based science tells us what results should be but I’m a cynic by trade and by nature.  I’ve seen too many “studies” that have been peer reviewed, later exposed as heavily biased towards a particular result and it’s narrative exploited in order to push an industry agenda.  This minority of research has tarnished science for me.  What I like is visual representation.

For instance, I’m consistently told that research suggests we have to have 3 meals evenly spread through the day in order to sustain a steady blood sugar level, and we most definitely shouldn’t have carbohydrates after 6pm.  Yet these strategies leave my tired, sluggish, and craving snacks.  I’m told intermittent fasting shouldn’t work for me, but it does.  I’m told that having porridge first thing in the morning will keep me satiated and alert throughout the whole morning, but it doesn’t.  My glycogen levels are full in the morning because of my previous day’s meals, so why would I have a bowl packed full of carbohydrates?  I find that going without breakfast keeps me alert and awake through to when I break my fast.  It shouldn’t, but it does.  So when I hear the concept of “super foods” I’m keen to actually try them for myself.  I don’t believe there is any such thing as a super food, all nutritious food is super and no one food in isolation is better than another.

In 2007, the EU banned the term “super food” – well not quite, they’ve just put some caveats behind it.  The Food Standards Agency say “The use of general terms on food, such as ‘healthy for you’ or ‘super food’, imply a health benefit.  However, these terms do not communicate why the food is healthy or a super food.  So, the regulation requires they are backed up by a relevant and authorised health claim.  This way the consumer knows why this food is healthy.”

Do you believe in super foods?

So when the opportunity arose to try and review Indigo Herbs Super Greens Organic Powder Blend, it presented a perfect opportunity to find out first hand whether these super greens are actually a super food.

The five ingredients in supergreens are: Wheatgrass; Barleygrass; Spirulina; Chlorella; and Moringa.  All of these ingredients have substantial nutritional qualities; spirulina is a dark green algae which is actually – by weight – a great source of protein and contains every single essential amino acid.  It’s high in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.  The barleygrass is rich in vitamins B6, B12, C, E, and K, as well as biotin which helps the body metabolise fats and carbohydrates, and linked to improved hair health as well as proper function of the nervous system.  But so do many other foods.  A plate of spinach, broccoli, and kale could give you the majority of these too.

All [the 5 ingredients] have quite superior nutri profiles.  A scoop of this dense nutrient blend will provide more than the same equivalent of broccoli.  Additionally they are freeze dried at harvest to ensure those nutrients don’t become destroyed.  A nutrient rich food source is very beneficial in convalescense, pregnancy, athletic training and to combat common illnesses and stress

Greens powders, and red powders, are being used by fitness professionals and bodybuilders all over the world, so anecdotally they are already something that interests me.  The key being the heavy concentration of micronutrients.  These particular sport types are having to consume a significant amount of food daily, sometimes in excess of 6000 calories a day.  These kind of supplements provide a significant amount of nutrition, for minimal food consumption.  When you’re already eating thousands of calories a day, trying to ingest another kilo of mixed green vegetables will be almost impossible.  For instance, there is only a marginal difference in the protein content between 100 calories’ worth of broccoli and sirloin steak. just over 8g to 11g respectively.  But it is much easier to consume 100 calories of steak than 100 calories of broccoli because it’s much more calorie dense.

So it’s clear to see that these supergreens are definitely nutritionally rich, and the ingredients are packed full of vitamins and minerals that can only be beneficial for your body, particularly if you’re a little bit vegetable deficient.  I am currently looking judgtngly at my children as I write this!  But how does it taste?

Do you believe in super foods?

Despite having a gut instinct that drinking the supergreens blended only in water was going to be awful, in the interest of a thorough review, I did it anyway.  I used 2 teaspoons with 300ml of water, it is recommended that you do not consume more than 3-4 teaspoons daily.  It tasted exactly as you would expect, like damp grass.  If you’re a cow, or sheep, or other grazing animal, you’ll love this, but if not, you’ll need to mix it into something else like a smoothie of some kind.  Its taste will be masked, but it may turn it a swampy kind of colour.  Once you mix them into another food, you genuinely can’t taste the supergreens anymore, you’re just left with an interesting – if not odd looking – colour.  Some excellent recipe ideas exist, but essentially you’re limited to just your imagination.  Every now and again I go on a very restrictive diet, so chocolate recipes are out, ice-cream smoothies are out, and in an attempt to try and mimic Ready Steady Cook in my own kitchen, I limited myself to only a few ingredients – plus bresaola or Serrano ham.

Do you believe in super foods?Do you believe in super foods?Do you believe in super foods?

These award winning supergreens come in 100g, 250g, 500g, 1000g pouches.  Given that the maximum recommended daily dose is 9g, you can easily work out how many days’ worth of supergreens you get for your money.  Incidentally, a 100g pouch retails at £6.99 but it gets cheaper per 100g the larger the pouch you buy.  At £49.99 for a 1kg bag, you save almost £20 buying big.  But is it worth the money?  This entirely depends on how much veg you normally buy and where you buy it from, but for the amount of nutrition you get over the course of a day, 63p a day is not a lot of money to spend. You can buy supergreens with similar ingredients for cheaper elsewhere, but given that Indigo Herbs are a small business, quality of product is vital to their continuity.

Indigo ingredients are organic and the best quality we can find.  They are also nutritionally tested and the processors are carefully chosen to ensure that they deliver optimum nutrition and are not spoilt in any way.  This is across the range of indigo products and our customers have come to trust the brand for that quality standard.  I personally see a huge difference for example in a raw nutrient rich nut and a roasted toasted rancid dead nut.  It appears that our customers are also looking for that differentiation too.

I took the daily maximum 9g dose, mixing the supergreens into galettes, eggs, as a dry ingredient in burgers, and once as a dry blended shot.  I even managed to sneak some into the kids’ meals without them knowing, which is a personal coup of mine.  I did feel more focussed, more energetic, and because of that mindset I was a little more proactive and procrastinated less.  I have to caveat this with a couple of points though.  A lot is going on in my life concurrently: I’m on a restrictive diet and my body is in that transition phase between favouring carbohydrates for energy to fat, I’ve ran more over the course of the last two weeks than for a long time, and I was already in the mindset that these supergreens would work as well as they did, so to say the supergreens caused the positive changes in isolation would be foolish.  But this is exactly what they are designed to do.  They are supposed to supplement your overall lifestyle and add to it, not replace it.  So have I changed my mind and now believe in super foods?  In a word no.  I certainly believe that there are foods that give you more nutritional bang for their buck, but in isolation they are just another source of nutrients.  It’s when you implement them into a much more holistic and balanced approach, that they are at their best.  so they may not be a super food, but they are a super source of goodness.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a free 250g pouch of Indigo Herbs Organic Super Greens Powder to review.  All views and comments are my own except for those annotated in quote marks, which are responses from Indigo Herbs to questions that I posed to them.

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