Green Drinks: A Buyer’s Guide

green drinks guideGreen drinks are somewhat of a ‘buzz’ subject at the moment.  Of course, as soon as a few celebrities are seen to be using them, everyone wants a piece of the action.  And a whole host of A-list superstars can be seen supping away on a daily basis – names such as Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Drew Barrymore and Josh Duhamel are just a few examples.

You may well have already bought your own juicer.  You may well have painstakingly gone through the preparation process.  You may well have marveled at quite how much green ‘stuff’ you need to make even the smallest amount of juice.  And if you’ve gone that far, no doubt you’ve realized that juicing your own not only takes a lot of work – but it tastes pretty damn awful as well!

What’s so great About A Greens Drink?

So what’s the answer?  Because we know that these superfoods really are good for us.  But who honestly wants to go to a huge amount of effort every day to create a drink that tastes awful, even if it is going to do us good?  And this is where the green juice industry comes into play – because the way around this is to get all the goodness through using a green powdered drink.  Simple to prepare, and when done properly, it even tastes good too.

But the thing is, as soon as something becomes popular (and therefore profitable – this is an industry worth over $5 billion per year), everyone and their aunt decide to start marketing it.  So how on earth can you ensure that the green drink you’re choosing to purchase is a) going to live up to its promises and b) is worth the money?

Hence the production of Green Drinks: A buyer’s guide.  Because if you’re going to do something to aid your health, then you want to be sure that you’re doing it right.

Why Drink A Greens Drink?

We all know the importance of providing our bodies with the correct fuel.  But it’s a sad fact of 21st century life that means we’re all so busy, busy, busy, that very often we overlook doing so.  After all, how many times have you got home from work, collapsed onto the sofa (pausing only to throw off your work clothes and clamber into comfy PJs) and all you’ve had the energy to cook is a frozen pizza (or dialed for a take out)?

Guilty as charged, m’lord…

And this is where green drinks come into play.  Powdered green drinks, to be exact.  Because with one simple drink each morning (or for lunch, or in the evening, whatever does it for you), you can get all your necessary nutrients in one healthy shot.

The reason these drinks are so great, according to Amy Shapiro, registered dietician and founder of Real Nutrition NYC, is because “the fibrous parts of the plants have been removed, and the cell walls are broken down allowing the enzymes that our bodies produce to easily act on the nutrients”.

Of course, our bodies also need fiber.  But when vegetables are broken down then we lose pretty much all of that.  Because of this, you shouldn’t rely on green juice as a source of fiber – it’s more of a way of getting a super-charged shot of the various other ingredients that our bodies need on a daily basis – probiotics, enzymes and antioxidants – all the products needed to help the body combat stress, fatigue, brain fade, and to be able to repair and regenerate the body cells at every level.

And it’s not just a fallacy, because the ingredients these green drinks provide are backed up by research from such big names as The American Heart Association and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being excellent for the health of the body.

So let’s take a look at exactly what you should be considering when looking at purchasing such a product…

The 3 crucial factors

When it comes down to it, there are three things you need to consider when purchasing a powdered green drink.  These are:

  • The ingredients 
  • The taste
  • Value for money

The ingredients:  This is the bit where many of the products on offer try to blind us with science.  Clever marketers can make even the most inferior of products sound tempting.  And when it comes to the ingredients, putting in a few scientific sounding names and sentences can make us feel like we’re ill educated for not understanding them – and so we simply don’t question them.  But never fear, because understanding the marketing spiel can be made easier by breaking this down into simple steps.  And these are:

  1. The actual green superfoods the powder contains
  1. Do they include any additional probiotics and enzymes?
  1. Additional herbs and antioxidants?
  1. For meal replacement drinks – is there any additional protein?

When it comes to the greens themselves, these can be thought of as three separate categories.  These are:

  • Green vegetables – such as broccoli, kale and spinach
  • Grasses – such as alfalfa, wheat grass and barley grass
  • Algae and sea vegetables – such as dulce, spirulina and chlorella

The best green juices are created using a variety of different ingredients in each of these three categories.

Most green drinks do contain additional probiotics and enzymes.  Probiotics are also known as ‘friendly bacteria’ – they are present in the gut and help aid healthy digestion.  Enzymes have the job of helping the body extract all the good stuff from food and absorbing it into the body to be used by the cells.

Other products you might see included are antioxidants and herbs.  And it’s here where things start getting a bit complicated – and where manufacturers start to put in fancy terms that most people don’t understand (because in all honesty, they don’t actually mean anything – they’re just marketing blurb…!)  But guess what – you don’t really need to worry about this too much.  Because the important thing is the green superfoods that the drink contains – that is the number one overriding factor of how good a green juice actually is.

When it comes to these green superfoods, look a little closer at exactly how much is actually contained in the product.  And here, it really is a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.  At the bottom end you might find a product containing 3,000mg-4,000mg (3-4grams) per serving, whereas at the top end you’ll find over 10,000mg (10grams) per serving.  And when it comes to cost (which we’ll cover in more detail in a moment), you generally get better value for money at the mid or top end than you do at the lower end.

Juice extract versus powder:

Okay, so another thing to look out for is the source of the green superfoods.  What you want to see is that they come from juice extracts.  The other option – vegetable powder – is inferior.  It’s simply a vegetable that’s frozen and then turned into powder.  Juice extracts, as the name suggests, are when the vegetable is first juiced, then this juice is frozen before being turned into powder.  More work goes into doing this, so naturally costs more to produce.  So you generally find this in the higher end products.  But it definitely provides you with more bang for your buck when it comes to the potency of the drink.

In addition, you’ll probably want to know what the drink DOESN’T contain.  Products such as dairy, gluten, nuts, wheat, animal products, cholesterol, MSG, added salt, yeast, sucrose, dextrose or lactose, and definitely no synthetic chemicals.

The Taste:  Let’s be realistic here.  Mixing up healthy green superfoods and making a drink out of them does not make for a good taste.  That’s a fact.  However, there’s a small proviso here – and that’s that green drinks made from juice extracts tend to taste a lot better than those made from powder.

However, for those who really can’t stand the taste of green drinks – but really want to gain the health benefits – it honestly is possible for manufacturers to blend the super healthy green products with other healthy products to make the drink taste good.  Products such as lemon, mint, and coconut water have their own health benefits, and also make for a nice tasting drink as well.

Top Tip – for novice green drinkers, purchase a high end product but use a reduced serving until your taste buds become accustomed to the taste.  Then you can gradually increase the dosage as you become accustomed to it.

Value for money:  The cost of different makes of green drinks varies widely.  However, determining the value for money is actually quite simple if you use the following formula:

  • How many servings in the container?
  • What are the total grams per serving?
  • What are the total grams of the ‘greens’ per serving?
  • Are there enzymes and probiotics included?
  • How much is the container?  Divide by the number of servings for the daily cost to you.

And one extra consideration:

  • Is the source of the greens juice extract or powder?

Once you’ve determined these factors for a variety of different products, you’ll be able compare the cost against the quality.  Do it with a few and it starts to become clear which offer better value for money.

What are the best green drinks?

There are a lot of these on the market these days.  One thing that you do need to look out for is those with added sugar.  We’re all aware of the devastating effect of sugar on our health – so it’s essential to make sure you choose one with no added sugar.  In addition, the use of fruit products to make them more palatable can also add to the amount of sugar in such a drink.  Just to recap on a point we made earlier, one fact that is ultra important to take into consideration is the products that are NOT included in the drink.  Namely:

  • Sugar and/or artificial sweeteners (also seen as sucrose, dextrose or lactose)
  • MSG
  • Salt
  • Any synthetic chemicals

And for those with intolerances:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Nuts
  • Wheat
  • Animal products

Some of the quality, higher end green drinks on the market include:

You’re probably going to need to try a variety of green juices to find the one that works best for you regarding taste and texture – as well as value for money.  But most (and all of those listed above) come with a 30 or 60 day money back guarantee (for the price of the product, not the shipping, so be aware of that), so they’re more or less risk free.  But do check the small print before purchasing.

These drinks are not cheap – there’s no getting away from that fact.  But when it comes to the positive effect they can have on your health, there’s no doubting that this is money well spent.  In fact, if you ditched the monthly gym membership and instead work out at home and take up walking or running, then the money saved would be well spent on taking up green juice as your daily habit instead.

Hopefully that will have unraveled some of the mysteries of buying good quality green drinks.  And to be honest, if you can stick at drinking these daily for around 66 days (that’s how long it takes a habit to form according to a scientifically backed article published by The Huffington Post), you’ll keep at it for the rest of your life.  And with the health benefits it provides you with, it really is a habit to be reckoned with.  No matter what your age, providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function at full capacity can make a powerful difference to the quality of your life.

Long live green drinks – and all who take part in this super healthy habit!

To see our top 3 list of the best green drinks go here.