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Nutrition

These 5 Superfood Powders Make Getting Your Daily Nutrients Super Easy

Sprinkle these powders into your daily meals, and you’ll get a potent serving of key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

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Acai, turmeric, spirulina: There’s always a trendy new superfood powder making big promises like improved immunity, better gut health and increased energy. But while many of these claims are oversold, some have been found to improve health – particularly when they’re turned into easy-to-use superfood powders.

When dried and powdered, certain berries, roots and leaves can provide a much-needed micronutrient and antioxidant boost, especially if you’re worried you might be coming up short. In many cases, so-called “superfood powders” are a convenient way to add nutrients and beneficial plant compounds to your daily meals.

Try these power powders to up the ante on eating better. 

1. Chlorella powder

Green is the color of health, so what’s better than a sprinkle of greens in your smoothie? Chlorella powder is a great option – but it’s no average green.

Chlorella is a single-celled freshwater algae that’s dried and ground into a vibrant green powder. There are numerous varieties of species, but Chlorella vulgaris is what’s most commonly used to make supplemental powders and capsules. 

This algae makes a potent superfood because it’s rich in a range of antioxidants. Using this verdant powder can help fend off cell-damaging free radicals that can contribute to inflammation and the progression of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Chlorella can also be considered a good source of iron, especially if you’re on a plant-predominant diet. The amount of iron in chlorella powder varies, but it can be as high as 30% in a teaspoon serving. 

You can also count on chlorella to deliver a hefty dose of beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A to support bone, vision and immune health. It’s also one of the very few sources of vitamin B12 that’s not an animal-based food. 

Plus a meta-analysis on the effects of chlorella supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors suggests that taking 4 grams daily can improve total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and fasting blood glucose levels. It’s also been speculated that chlorella can wrap itself around heavy metal toxins like cadmium, lead and mercury to keep them from accumulating in the body’s soft tissues and organs. But, so far, research is preliminary. 

How to use this superfood powder

Add chlorella powder to water, juices, smoothies and yogurt. Just try not to exceed 3 to 4 teaspoons daily.

2. Flax powder

Superfood powders don’t have to cost a ton. As one of the original health foods, budget-friendly flax has a top-tier nutritional resume. But before you start sprinkling flax seeds over the top of your smoothie bowls, try the powdered form instead!

Flaxseeds are actually even better for you when ground into a powder. The hard shell of the whole seed is tough to digest and will likely pass through your system intact. It can also prevent  the absorption of its nutrients. 

And flax powder contains nutrients you don’t want to miss, like plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). An analysis published in The BMJ linked a high intake of ALA to a 10% lower risk of all-cause mortality, an 8% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and an 11% reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease, compared with lower consumption levels. What’s more, in a comprehensive literature review published in Advances in Nutrition, greater ALA intakes were associated with a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent reduced risk of fatal coronary heart disease. 

Far from a one-hit-wonder, flax is also one of the richest food sources of lignans – plant compounds with antioxidant and mild estrogen-like properties that may help lower the chances for certain cancers including colorectal and breast. Plus, nearly all of the carbs in flax are in the form of fiber. You’ll get 4 grams in a 2 tablespoon serving, and this potent powder delivers both insoluble and soluble fiber. 

How to use this superfood powder

Stir flax powder into oatmeal, blend into smoothies, add it to homemade energy bars or balls and use it instead of breadcrumbs in recipes like meatloaf. It can even replace an egg in baking recipes! Just stir 1 tablespoon ground flax into 2 1/2 tablespoons water and let sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. 

One caveat: Grinding starts to break down the oils in the seeds. This leads them to go rancid quicker, so store ground flax in the fridge or freezer to maintain freshness.

3. Cacao powder

Yep, you read that right: Chocolate is fantastic for you! Okay, maybe not chocolate in the traditional sense. But if you’re looking for a sugar-free way to add chocolatey flavor, cacao powder is a nutritious fit. 

Cacao powder is made when fermented and dried cacao beans are pulverized into a bitter-sweet powder, and the result has a surprisingly impressive nutritional resume. This powder contains healthy amounts of dietary fiber (about 5 grams in a 2 tablespoon serving) and magnesium, a typically under-consumed micronutrient linked to a lower risk for liver cancer

Though the terms cacao and cocoa are often used interchangeably,  the two are quite different. “Cacao” generally refers to the raw bean and powder, while “cocoa” is an alkalized powder with less acidity and bitterness. Cocoa powder is also missing many of cacao’s naturally-occurring antioxidants (and it’s typically darker in color than cacao powder). 

Cacao contains a payload of flavonoid antioxidants, which might be why consuming moderate amounts of dark chocolate has been associated with improved heart and cognitive functioning. It’s worth noting that some research shows that cacao contains an even higher antioxidant capacity than other fruit powders, including acai and blueberry. 

Plus, an investigation in the European Journal of Nutrition found that antioxidants in cacao may help reduce inflammation. And gram for gram, cacao powder has about one-third fewer calories than dark chocolate bars. 

How to use this superfood powder

Cacao powder can add chocolate essence and a boost of nutrition to everything from oatmeal to smoothies to pancakes to homemade energy bars. 

If you’re a mocha fan, jazz up your morning coffee with a spoonful of cacao powder. You can also stir it into nut butter for a more indulgent-tasting spread. A tablespoon or two can also deepen flavor in a pot of chili or a spice rub mix.

4. Matcha powder

If you enjoy a matcha latte in the morning, you’ve tried this superfood powder. Matcha literally means “powdered tea,” as it’s made by grinding whole tea leaves into a fine powder. 

As a result, matcha is akin to the Marvel superhero version of regular green tea. It’s more concentrated in a handful of healthful compounds including L-theanine, a chill-out amino acid that may help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. One recent study in the journal Plant Foods in Human Nutrition determined that matcha powder also delivers a cocktail of disease-fighting flavonoid and phenolic antioxidants. A polyphenol in matcha called EGCG has been shown in research to have some potential anti-cancer effects And a systematic review study discovered that people who consume 2-3 cups (8 oz each) of unsweetened black or green tea like matcha per day may lower their risk of death from heart disease by about 8 to 12%, compared to non-tea drinkers.

Just keep in mind that matcha contains a higher concentration of caffeine than regular green tea. The best quality matcha will have a vibrant green hue and sweet, vegetal flavor. For the biggest health bang, opt for unsweetened. 

How to use this superfood powder

Traditionally, matcha is prepared by mixing about 1 teaspoon of powder with ⅓ cup of hot water, then whisked with a bamboo brush until it froths. Ceremonial-grade of matcha should be reserved for drinking as brewed tea. 

However, less pricey culinary matcha can be added to foods like smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and even salad dressing. You can use matcha powder in everything from pancakes to loaves of lemon bread to creamy custards.

5. Camu camu powder

The winner of the coolest name for a superfood powder goes to camu camu, a small berry from the Amazon. It’s too delicate to be transported fresh, so you’ll only find it in powdered form. And camu camu powder has one particular nutritional benefit: It’s extremely high in vitamin C.

A one-teaspoon serving of this super potent powder contains more than 700% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C,. That’s about ten times the amount in a medium orange. All that vitamin C helps make collagen, bolster immune function, improve wound healing and so much more. Additionally, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found higher intakes of vitamin C can help bring down blood pressure. 

Like other berries, camu camu is a source of important antioxidants. The polyphenol antioxidants in brightly-colored fruits like camu camu are metabolized by bacteria in our large intestines, where they release postbiotics, which can benefit digestive, immune and brain health. But compared to more popular berries like blueberries, research into the healing powers of camu camu is lagging behind. 

How to use this superfood powder

Mix camu camu powder into smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt or even vinaigrettes. Stir it into sparking water for a refreshing drink. Just remember that a little goes a very long way.

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