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Should you take a green supplement?

Despite being hailed as some of the superfoods of the natural world, green supplements such as spirulina, blue-green algae, cereal grasses, and chlorella scare some people away. Although their intense greenness can be off-putting, these superfoods—which contain an extraordinary amount of naturally occurring nutrition—are definitely worth a try. In fact, many people come to love their distinctive tastes.

What are the benefits?
From a nutritional standpoint, green foods, which are available as shakes, bars, powders, tablets, and tinctures, have impressive health benefits. “They are high in antioxidants, minerals, B-complex vitamins, and amino acids,” says Hilary Andrews, ND, a professor of microbiology at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Several studies also have suggested that green supplements can provide pain relief, strengthen the immune system, boost energy, and even help with cancer prevention. Keep in mind, however, that although green foods can supplement your diet, they are not a miracle food to replace eating other fresh vegetables.

How to choose?
When buying green supplements, make sure to choose a reputable company that uses a clean source for its products. Although rare, toxic algae strains have been accidentally harvested with wild blue-green algae grown in lakes. Reading labels may not tell you how good the source is, so check with a naturopath or a nutritionist if you have doubts. To get the most health benefits for your buck, try powder rather than tablets, says Andrews. Simply mix the recommended dose of powder into fruit juice, smoothies, or any kind of yogurt, and be prepared for a Popeye-like boost of energy.

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