Greens Powder in World Cuisine: a Cultural Comparison
You may have heard about the benefits of greens powder, but it is far more than just a fitness trend in the states. It may seem like Americans are always looking for different health benefits to help them maintain a healthy diet, especially in the form of greens powders, but other countries have been harnessing the power of super greens for centuries.
While many greens powders are certified organic, many use artificial sweeteners. Some may use vegetable juices in their dietary supplements, but not all greens powders have an amazing grass greens blend with ingredients such as barley grass or wheat grass.
In the states, super foods tend to be taken as supplements, but in other parts of the world, they are a dietary staple. Countries like India, Italy, and Korea are known for incorporating lots of hearty greens into other dishes. These greens aid in healthy digestion, with no added sugars. Fresh produce is used in cuisines, and there is no artificial flavoring.
Learning how other cultures view super greens may inspire you to use them even more in your daily cooking!
What is in Greens Powder?
Super greens powders contain plenty of leafy greens and grasses, herbs, and vegetables. The stars of the show are greens like spinach, kale, and spirulina. In powdered form, they contain higher concentrations of their vitamins and nutrients. Incorporating one scoop in a smoothie or bowl of yogurt can give you a day’s worth of their nutritional value.
A good greens powder is designed to boost your vitamins and nutrients intake with great taste and no hassle. The best greens powders offer boosts to the immune system by helping promote gut health. Most powders are available in a fruit and vegetable blend to help with taste, rather than using artificial sweeteners. Many greens powders have digestive enzymes and offer fat soluble vitamins.
While greens powders have gained popularity in recent years, but countries such as China and India have been using herbs and vegetables in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
For example, spinach is recommended by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to strengthen the liver and spleen. The liver aids the body’s natural detoxification process. So, eating more leafy greens can help improve your entire psychological balance.
The best greens powders can be a benefit for those who have a busy lifestyle. Some greens powders are available in a variety of flavors, such as vanilla bean powder or matcha green tea to help those who need dietary supplements with the bitter taste. Some people add the greens powders into smoothies to take on the go, along with some almond milk and/or half a frozen banana and other fruits to aid with the grassy taste that greens powders have.
Greens Powder: Exploring the Benefits
In countries where they are part of the staple diet, greens are prized for their flavor and accessibility. They are easy-to-grow whole foods, and they provide a large dose of essential vitamins and nutrients without requiring extensive preparation.
Here are just some of the health benefits of super greens powder:
- Healthy blood sugar levels
- Immune support
- Improved cognitive function
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Better gut health
The actual preparation and inclusion of greens varies from culture to culture. In the U.S. and U.K., we tend to see greens reserved for salads and sides. In other countries, they often serve as primary ingredients in everyday dishes.
Let’s take a look at how super greens are enjoyed around the world.
Counties that border the Mediterranean Sea are home to the world-renowned diet of the same name. Relying heavily on healthy oils, seafood, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, the Mediterranean Diet is praised for its simplicity and health benefits.
In Greece, greens are prominent in dishes like Horta, where they are boiled and topped with feta cheese. Spanakopita is a hearty Greek spinach pie made with phyllo dough. Other popular greens in Greece include arugula, chard, cabbages, and collard greens.
Over in Italy, cabbage and Swiss chard are commonly eaten in a cooked greens salad called “verdure verde.” In Italy, fresh vegetables are a staple, and most families eat at least two servings of greens every day.
Meanwhile, in Egypt and Lebanon, you’ll find people enjoying their greens in sauces, soups, and stews. Egyptian molokhia is a soup made with green jute mallow leaves, fresh coriander, and fresh garlic.
Vegetables are a staple of Lebanese cuisine. Hindbeh is made with cooked dandelions, olive oil, lemon juice, and sometimes onions.
Asian countries are very different from each other, but they all tend to eat local greens. In countries like China, Japan, and Korea, seaweed is an extremely common ingredient you’ll find cooked into stews, soups, and other dishes. It can even be enjoyed dried and lightly seasoned with salt.
In India, spiced greens are made into soups, curries, and stews. Sarson ka Saag, for example, is a dish of stewed greens like spinach, mustard leaves, and fenugreek leaves seasoned with ghee, turmeric, cumin, and chili pepper.
In Africa, root vegetables are more common than greens in the Western world. Their leaves are turned into soups and seasoned with local spices.
The Akan tribe in Ghana prepares a soup called abunuabunu, which literally translates to “green green”. This soup (also spelled ebunu ebunu) includes cocoyam leaves, onions, ground peanut paste, and smoked fish. You’ll typically see it served with fufu, a starchy, doughy side dish made from cassava.
The Ayurvedic diet is part of Ayurveda, an Indian health system based on the idea that illness and disease are caused by imbalances in the body.
Dark leafy greens, such as alfalfa grass, collard greens, and other organic greens are a staple of the Ayurvedic diet; they are enjoyed naturally without artificial flavors or excessive seasoning. People who practice Ayurveda believe that eating greens helps promote gut health and rid the body of toxins.
These green vegetables should be at least 40% of a meal, and cooked until they are soft and tender so they are easy to digest.
While not everyone in the world cooks with greens powders, many cultures do see the health benefits of greens and incorporate them into their regular diets.
Enjoying a greens powder in your own life can help boost digestive enzymes, improve gut health, and may improve your immunity and energy levels as well. Some greens powders blends are gluten free, USDA certified organic, and work as a dietary supplement for those who are looking to up their vegetable intake daily, without added sugars. Greens powders may also be dairy free, and most are a greens blend that uses whole foods with digestive enzymes, such as barley grass.
Most green powders contain a protein powder along with their raw, organic perfect food ingredients. As far as greens powders versus actual fruits and vegetables, greens powders expire much slower than raw fruits and vegetables. This can also be a deciding factor on whether you choose greens powders or raw, nutrient dense foods. Raw foods may help more with blood sugar, rather than greens powders.
Before starting any greens powder, though, make sure you focus on also consuming a nutrient-dense diet packed with organic fruit and green vegetables. If you are on blood thinners or other prescription medications, speak with your doctor before trying any supplement or potent powder.