The 10 best Nutritional Powders for Optimal Health
Last month I focused on my favorite tinctures I use to boost my immune system, regulate my hormones and improve my general well-being. This month I’m spotlighting the nutritional powders that have become staples in my pantry.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. This post is only intended to share with my readers which powders I personally use and why I have personally added them to my diet. Please talk to your doctor before trying any new dietary supplementation.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: Chaga has been toted as a ‘miracle mushroom’ for ages in Eastern Medicine. Now it’s finally vying for superfood stardom here in the US. Advocates claim chaga can help slow the aging process, lower cholesterol, support your immune system, lower blood sugar, fights inflammation, and even fight and prevent cancer. On top of all that it is an incredibly nutrient-dense superfood. I primarily take chaga for the anti-inflammatory properties and immune-boosting benefits.
USAGE: I usually have 1 tsp of chaga in a chai chagaccino 2-3 times a week. Click here for my recipe.
TASTE: On it’s own, chaga has a very earthy, yet mild, flavor. It’s best mixed with sweetener or masked in a smoothie or latte.
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS: because of chagas natural ability to lower blood sugar you should exercise caution when supplementing chaga if you are taking insulin.
CACAO (+ REISHI)
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: Cacao is dense with beneficial minerals like iron and magnesium and rich in antioxidants and calcium. It may be able to reduce stress, depression, risk of heart attack and stroke, and reduce high blood pressure. Advocates for reishi claim it counters kidney disease, respiratory disease, viral infections, HIV, and cancer. I take cacao to get a boost of iron and calcium, since both are typically low in my bloodwork. I use a cacao mixed with reishi to reap the benefits of improved sleep, enhanced immunity and reduced stress.
USAGE: I stir a tsp into smoothies, yogurt and as the base for a warm evening drink. Cacao can also be used to make a delicious fudge-like sauce. As a drink, I typically put 1 tsp (2 g) of cacao + hot water + oat milk + stevia in a frother. It tastes like a decadent hot cocoa!
TASTE: It’s more of an acquired taste – like coffee, wine and dark chocolate. At first, I found the flavor bitter, but now I am such a fan of the rich and complex flavor of raw cacao.
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS: In very high doses (50g+), cacao can have the same negative effects as caffeine: nervousness, sleeplessness, sweating and/or increased heartbeat. I typically take no more than 5g of cacao on any given day. Cacao ceremonies use high doses of cacao to elicit detoxifying benefits and enter deeper meditations. These ceremony drinks may use upwards of 40g of cacao.
While mixing reishi with cacao can theoretically counter the potential jittery effects of cacao, it’s important to note that reishi may cause upset stomach, and dryness of the throat with repeated use. Overuse of reishi also has been linked to toxic effects of the liver.
KOLA SUPER GREEN LATTE
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: This super green latte mix is a combination of adaptogens, spices and superfoods. The origin of the mix is from Sri Lanka, where locals drink a similar concoction for energy and mental sharpness. Some of the all-star ingredients include moringa (antioxidants, vitamin-rich, may alleviate stomach disorders), gotu kula (known as the herb of longevity, collagen building, brain function), ceylon cinnamon (blood sugar health), curry leaf (liver support), and ginger (digestion). I use the Kola Goodies drink for stomach and intestinal support from moringa and collagen boosting properties from gotu kula.
USAGE: The mix can be added to smoothies, yogurt or drank as a warm latte. I usually make a kola matcha latte by using 1 tsp kola + 1 tsp matcha mixed with steamed oat milk, hot water and some stevia or monkfruit. I have one of these drinks 2-3 times per week. In the warmer months, I make an iced version.
TASTE: Oddly spicy and slightly coconuty. The powder mixes wonderfully into other flavored drinks, where the taste becomes more subdued. I do enjoy the flavor if I mix the powder with some local honey and hot water.
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS: Moringa might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. In the same vain, there may be concern that moringa could worsen underactive thyroid disorder. Gotu Kula may cause headaches and upset stomach in some and shouldn’t be used by pregnant or nursing women.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: Maca is the hormone balancing superfood. Some benefit claims are increased libido, fertility, mood, and energy and reduced erectile dysfunction and sun damage. I use maca to help balance my hormones and to boost my fertility health.
USAGE: Maca is a great flavor booster to any energy balls, baked goods, cereal, yogurt, or smoothie. I like mixing maca with cacao for a warm drink or sprinkling some on top of peanut butter and banana toast. I typically take 1 tsp of maca 5 times per week.
FLAVOR: I am obsessed with the distinct nutty flavor of maca. So much so that it’s hard for me not to want to eat a teaspoon right out of the bag!
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS: Due to macas powerful hormonal balancing properties, people with thyroid disruption should air on the side of caution when using maca.
Vegan Collagen Booster
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: The collagen craze is upon us. Everything from water to chocolate bars are now being infused with collagen touting beauty benefits. As someone who abstains from meat, I really hated being on the sidelines of this hot superfood trend. Amazing Grass makes a vegan collagen booster with 100% DV of biotin (skin, hair and health) and vitamin C to support collagen production. Its main all-star ingredients are amla (fruit rich in vitamin C), Schisandra (liver protection, anti-aging, normalizing blood sugar), maqui berry (antioxidants, anti-inflammatory) and wheatgrass (builds blood, used for weight loss, aids in digestion).
USAGE: I put 1 tsp of the powder in my smoothie, 5 times per week.
TASTE: Do you like the taste of wheatgrass? Right. Luckily this powder mixes well and the flavor becomes undetectable in a smoothie.
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS: Wheatgrass and Schisandra can cause nausea and upset stomach in some. You should not take Schisandra if you have acid reflux.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: Ya’all know that turmeric is THE og superfood. It is a potent anti-inflammatory with claims that it counters heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer. I personally take turmeric to reduce inflammation.
USAGE: The real powerhouse of turmeric is curcumin, which is best activated with black pepper. So I typically mix 1 tsp of turmeric powder in with hot water and steamed oat milk and top with black pepper, cinnamon and honey for a golden latte. I typically drink this 2-3 times a week. I also occasionally add turmeric to my smoothies. When I add turmeric to food, I just use the spice rack or fresh ground turmeric, the powder I reserve for drinks.
TASTE: Not repulsive. Even enjoyable with honey and cinnamon. Maybe I’ve grown accustomed to the flavor of turmeric, but I genuinely don’t mind the mild flavor of this powdered brand. Some will have a strong aversion to turmeric. In that case, your best bet is to add it to a flavor packed smoothie to dilute the flavor.
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS: Turmeric is regarded as safe, but can cause an upset stomach in some.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: This blend of superfood mushrooms by Laird is made up of Chaga (see above), cordyceps (exercise benefits, anti-aging, potential anti-tumor effects), lions mane (may speed recovery, relieve mild depression and anxiety, and protect against dementia), and maitake (may stimulate immune system, fight tumors, and lower blood pressure). While these mushrooms are a staple for traditional Chinese Medicine, they are fairly new to the western superfood trend train. Meaning we need more clinical studies and research findings to confirm possible benefits. I take the performance blend in place, or with, a cup of coffee for a pre or post workout boost.
USAGE: I typically take 1 tsp 2-3 times per week mixed into my cacao drink, latte or in a smoothie.
TASTE: Like the earth. Not pleasant on its own, but easily disguised with sweetener or mixed into a flavorful smoothie.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: See above for possible chaga side effects. Cordyceps could lead to blood clotting in people with bleeding disorders. It could potentially increase the risk of bleeding during surgery as well. Lions mane is regarded as mostly safe and tolerable. Maitake may affect your blood sugar levels, so take extra caution if you suffer from diabetes.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS: Matcha is known for its weight loss benefits. It is high in antioxidants and can support healthy brain function and protect the liver. I drink matcha because it’s a deeeelicious alternative to coffee with less caffeine and has a much higher health impact than traditional green tea bags.
USAGE: I drink a matcha latte, hot or iced, most days around 3pm. I also love adding matcha to baked goods, smoothies and desserts.
TASTE: Also an acquired taste. When I first tried matcha in Japan I had to ease my way into the rich earthiness. Back in the states, I began my matcha obsession with adding quite a lot of sweetener. Now I like it unsweetened with a healthy dash of cinnamon. I really do crave and love the taste of it!
POTENTIAL NEGATIVE EFFECTS: Matcha does contain 4x more caffeine than regular green tea so caffeine side effects could be a potential negative consequence if you’re sensitive.
VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER
I have tried every single vegan protein powder on the market, and always come back to Garden of Life and Naked Nutrition.
I use Garden of Life vegan sport every morning in my smoothie, mixed into my yogurt, or in desserts and baked goods. As a herbivore, I am conscious about getting enough protein in my diet and using plant-based protein powders helps me achieve my macros goals. Garden of Life is organic, contains a complete amino acid profile, has added nutrients from whole fruits and vegetables, has a negligible amount of sugar (<1 g per serving), and is much lower in sodium than the majority of its competitors. I typically keep a vanilla and a chocolate flavor in the cabinet and switch between the two.
One of my favorite desserts is 1 avocado + 1 tsp cacao + 1 tsp maca + 1 scoop chocolate garden of life protein + 1/2 cup oat milk blended into a rich chocolate mousse. It’s decadent and delicious!
I like Naked Nutrition protein powder because it is just pea protein and nothing else. I use this when adding protein powder to nondessert meals – like stirring it into a creamy soup or adding it into mashed potatoes for a protein boost.
BENEFITS: Psyllium husk is one of those old standbys in every kitchen. It’s an easy way to increase fiber to help alleviate constipation or treat diarrhea. It also helps you feel full, which can aid in weight loss. I personally get quite a lot of fiber in my diet because I eat mostly whole fruits, vegetables, complex grains, nuts and seeds. But I wanted to include it just because I feel fiber is such a crucial part of reaching – or maintaining – a healthy weight.
USAGE: Mix 1 tbsp into water and drink. Sometimes I add a little tart cherry juice to give the mix a little flavor. Fun fact tart cherry juice is great for muscle recovery! My husband has fiber most nights to help him feel full and stop mindless snacking after dinner. I usually only take fiber if I’m having digestive issues.
TASTE: The brand we use is pretty tasteless.
POTENTIAL NEGATIVE EFFECTS: The big risk factor with psyllium husk is the threat of choking. If you let the mixture sit too long it becomes very thick and gooey, making it difficult to swallow. If you’re not used to having a fiber rich diet, you might experience some stomach pains as well. It’s always good to ease into fiber, by starting with a fraction of the recommended serving and working your way up to a full serving.
I am a part of the amazon affiliate program, so I make a small commission if you purchase anything from my links. Whether or not you do, I appreciate you stopping by TravelingFig. If you have a powder you’d like to add to the list, shoot me a message, I’ll try it out!