Visit any health food store and you’ll probably find a section entirely dedicated to superfood powder products. Between all the superfoods you have never heard of, the super greens, and the “life changing benefits”, it is hard to see through the hype. Simply put…
Superfood is a buzzword. Approach with caution.
As with many of the mainstream products in the health and wellness space (including nootropics), the more popular usually the less substance. This isn’t always the case, but can often be overwhelming for the uneducated consumer.
Different products like Athletic Greens (one of the better greens products) and Living Fuel have some validity, but mostly grow on the backs of great marketing and busy savvy (the former through Tim Ferriss and the latter Elliott Hulse).
Plenty of products are entering the market claiming to have all the benefits you could ever want, but how do you know what is useful and what isn’t?
We will breakdown various superfood ingredients and at the end provide what seems to be an evidence-based superfood product for regular usage.
Superfood Powder vs Super Greens
Green vegetables are potent in that they’re full of nutrients like vitamins and minerals many of which we cannot get from other foods. Usually the benefits of green leafy vegetables are compressed into a super greens product, but this is not always synonymous with a superfood powder.
Focusing on greens alone may be beneficial in certain situations, but superfoods offer a far wider variety of purported benefits. Unfortunately, the world of superfoods is awash with hype and pseudoscience (more so than greens specifically).
The best superfood powder will probably have a combination of greens and other items that improve markers of health (such as antioxidant, immune etc).
What Does Standard Superfood Powder Support?
Any standard superfood powder that you find in a grocery store or online is probably going to have a few different claims. They often note being able to help with:
- Antioxidant support
- Immune system support
- Cardiovascular benefits
- Digestive aid
- Mood balancer
- Hormonal support
The problem is that many of the so-called superfoods do not have much (or any) scientific evidence for the claims that they are making. Nevermind the fact that “energy” is a dubious claim used for predominantly marketing purposes (unless a product legitimately increases cellular ATP).
Most of the things a superfood company will claim to benefit should create some level of skepticism.
4 Best Superfood Powder Ingredients
Even the term “superfood” is unclear at best. What one person considers a superfood ingredient will be different from another. Either way, there are a few foods that have a particularly special scientific profile, which are useful to include in any product…
…more importantly, they’re important to get in your diet.
#1. Spirulina – Discovered and researched in the early 1940s and 50s, scientists believed spirulina would be a food of the future. During challenging times in World War II, it was thought that the high protein content (55 – 70% complete protein)  would be wonderful for society. As other developments took precedence, spirulina fell away from grace.
Plenty of research suggests benefits of spirulina including high doses of beta-carotene, trace minerals, and anti-inflammatory / antioxidant effects . More human studies are needed, but this is a good sign of a scientifically based superfood supplement.
#2. Leafy Greens – As indicated above, leafy green vegetables are full of nutrition. Outside the standard vitamins and minerals, leafy greens have high levels of nitrate, which can improve physical performance and heart health . Instead of supplementing with nitrates directly, the study concluded that leafy green vegetables were a better alternative.
#3. Dark Berries – Berries are a great fruit with low levels of sugar, but plenty of antioxidant value. There is evidence that berries alone can improve memory , they aid in BDNF (fertilizer for the brain) , and they don’t negatively influence insulin and blood sugar levels.
#4. Garlic – As polarizing as this vegetable can be, there is ample evidence that garlic can improve cardiovascular health and specifically through supporting a nutrient called glutathione .
This isn’t to say there aren’t more scientifically studied superfoods, but these are the true foods that have scientific basis. As you will see, some of the products that have been tested also have these ingredients (at least some of them).
Superfoods All in One
While I’m a big proponent of eating the real foods to get all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients (including fiber) that we need, sometimes it is easier to take a superfood product. One way to do this when I’m in Austin, Texas (my home city) is simply to get a green juice to get some superfoods (specifically super greens!)
But there are times when I’m traveling… and having a capsule form helps a lot.
One of the products that stands out as a superfood is Abe’s Organics mostly because they have scientific research using QEEG brain mapping from Peak Brain Institute in Los Angeles, California.
Similar to my experiment with phenylpiracetam, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Hill tested the cognitive effects of Abe’s Organics Superfood and found some surprising results.
According to the study, there were a few major changes in the brain after using Abe’s Organics superfood:
- Continuous performance task (CPT) suggested 2 – 3 standard deviation improvement in attention / focus
- Elevated alpha brain wave amplitude (associated with flow states and relaxation)
- Increased peak alpha frequency (associated with faster processing speed and increased intelligence)
These were the results from a single person. Afterwards they finished a trial with 8 people with similar conclusions (but the data isn't yet available).
Any brand that puts their product on the line and gets confirmation via scientific evidence (no matter what the scale) is doing a better job than average.
Ingredient Breakdown: Abe’s Organics
From the get go I’m a bit wary of the superfood ingredients simply because they are hidden behind a proprietary blend. This doesn’t bode well given the serving is 2000 mg and there are 34 ingredients, but we won’t let that count too much against them. It’s worth noting, but not passing them over completely.
There are 9 ingredients that we can clearly identify as having potency for a host of health effects. We have dropped a few of the specific benefits (with studies) below:
- Wheatgrass – efficient green product for vitamins and minerals
- Barley grass – same as above
- Lion’s mane mushroom – improves nerve-growth factor (NGF) and neurogenesis 
- Red reishi mushroom – immune boosting , improves BDNF 
- Ashwagandha – potent Ayurvedic anti-anxiety nootropic 
- Maca – libido, virility 
- Spirulina – benefits discussed above
- Tulsi – aka: Holy Basil, reduces anxiety and antioxidant 
- Green coffee extract – antioxidant support  and memory formation 
What Does it Cost? Superfood Breakdown
For all 32 ingredients in the Abe’s Organics product, it will run the average consumer $45 for a month’s supply on Amazon. That comes out to a total of $1.45 per serving, which is reasonable given that green superfood powder, Athletic Greens, costs $3.23 per serving. Living Fuel is $5.66 per serving. This is not a 1 to 1 comparison given they are very different products, but an idea of how much Abe’s Organics costs.
It may also be useful to cycle off of Abe’s Organics superfood powder because taking the same 34 ingredients can send your body into a new version of homeostatic equilibrium. Best to take it some days and not on others.
Best Superfood Powder
Generally speaking, the best superfood powder is the one that has some (ANY) science to back up their claims. In the world of superfoods there is a lot of pseudoscience and hype around products that may or may not work.
As a scientifically minded organization, we are excited there is at least one superfood company that has taken the time and energy to do brain mapping studies (even if unofficial) to determine the possible benefits of using superfood ingredients.
Whether or not you buy superfood powder, it is important to realize that maintaining vitamins and minerals from raw, real foods is the best way to not only live better, but save money as well. We will always recommend eating the superfoods over anything else, but when in a pinch some products can help.
- References (Click to Expand)