Powdered supplements made from plants, vegetables and roots are everywhere these days. Are there any health benefits to these supplemental powders? While some of them have proven benefits, there are many that are ineffective and have some nasty added ingredients such as sugar. Here are a few nutritional supplements that actually haven proven benefits and can take your smoothie or coffee to the next level.
» Maca root powder. Maca root has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Maca is a cruciferous vegetable native to Peru. It is considered an adaptogen, which are herbs and plants that help your body better handle physical and emotional stress. Maca root is rich in antioxidants, which helps to fight free radicals (free radicals promote disease). Studies have shown that maca root can help boost energy, improve mood and reduce anxiety. A study in “Menopause,” showed that maca root reduced psychologica symptoms, including anxiety and depression in postmenopausal women. A study in the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” showed that maca improved the time it took cyclists to complete a 25-mile bike ride. Maca root contains protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6 and manganese.
» Matcha powder. Matcha is a green tea originating nearly a thousand years ago in China and Japan. According to the National Cancer Institute, the catechins (antioxidants) in matcha green tea can help prevent cancer. Matcha contains more catechins than most green teas, making it a superior cancer-preventing tea. Catechins have also been shown to help reduce body fat. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that daily consumption of tea containing 690 mg of catechins for 12 weeks reduced body fat.
» Collagen. Collagen is a protein found in our bodies. Collagen decreases as we age, but we can also lose collagen due to such factors as a poor diet, a diet high in white sugar, nutritional deficits and stress. Collagen has been shown to help treat joint pain and may be a helpful supplement for those suffering with osteoarthritis. Collagen is also beneficial for promoting gut health which can help aid in digestive issues such as reflux and leaky gut syndrome. You will find collagen in many skin and hair treatments, that’s because collagen is a protein made up of amino acids, the building blocks of bones, skin and muscles. It helps skin with firmness and elasticity and strengthens hair and nails.
» Cacao. Chocolate is made from cacao beans, however raw cacao powder does not taste like chocolate because cacao does not contain the sugar, added fat and milk that it takes to make chocolate. Cacao makes a great addition to coffee and smoothies and provides many health benefits including antioxidant properties, high in minerals including magnesium, and zinc, and selenium and helps boost mood. Cocoa powder and cacao powder are often used interchangeably, and are both nutritious, however cacao is less processed than cocoa and superior in nutrition benefits.
» Bee pollen. Bee pollen has potential medical and nutritional properties. Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and may help to reduce allergy symptoms.
» Probiotics. You probably have heard the countless benefits of adding probiotics to your diet. In fact, if I could recommend one supplement that most people need in their diet, it would be probiotics. Countless research has concluded that probiotics help with everything from boosting immunity, digestive health, and allergies, to brain health and inflammation.
Mandy Nix is a registered dietician who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald.