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Tasting Green: An Easier Sell in 2010

Albion Minerals®
 
CapsCanada

It has taken some time, but it appears as if green foods and grasses are finally beginning to move into the limelight in the natural food market. Health conscious consumers today are looking for more than wholesome, nutritious food to maintain good health—they also want to avoid the ever-increasing levels of pesticides and other chemicals in our environment.

According to www.greenfoods.com, while periodic use of internal cleansing programs may help to eliminate pesticide residues, the best solution is to gently cleanse our bodies every day through our diet.Therefore, optimal nutrition requires foods that supply us with all the nutrients necessary for cellular metabolism that also help us cleanse our bodies daily.

Strides and Trends

There was a time, not too long ago, when green foods and grasses were fairly unknown and rarely used. But the increase in variety and consumer awareness, thanks to blogs and more traditional media sources, has certainly led to a greater market acceptance.

“Green foods have come a long way Over the past 15-20 years,” said Allen Levine, director of sales at Pines International, Inc. (Lawrence, KS). “[It started as] just a few SKUs early on, but now the segment takes up a lot more space on the shelves, offering consumers a wide variety of choices.There are also a lot more companies and individuals producing the raw products around the world.”

Dr. Rudi E. Moerck, president and CEO of Valensa International (Eustis, FL), agreed that consumer awareness in the green foods market has been steadily increasing. “Today, consumers are more aware of the quality and specific nutritional value of green foods and grasses,” said Moerck, citing a recent Consumer Reports study of a wide range of green foods looking at contamination of heavy metals—with some of the products showing levels that are considered unacceptable.

“Issues of cultivation and quality control are increasingly a concern for consumers,” explained Moerck.

“Organic certification and adherence to standards such as USP verification program are also increasingly important issues. Due to these trends, marketers are also becoming conscious about the source and quality of green foods with respect to nutrition and contamination limits.”

Matt Phillips, president of Cyvex Nutrition (Irvine, CA), knows that consumer preference can be tricky, as some shoppers are just plain turned off.Others, however, enjoy the fresh, natural taste of grasses in juices and powdered supplements. “A clear advantage is that as the protein market develops, manufacturers are looking for alternatives to soy and whey protein,” Phillips said. “Plant-based proteins are continuing to be evaluated in the growing protein market, as many offer an abundance of not only protein, but vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids, just to name a few.”

Powdered supplements are certainly gaining a lot of popularity in the green food market, and Phillips doesn’t see that trend changing. “The most popular delivery forms for protein ingredients are powdered beverages in bulk containers, sachets or individual stick packs.We are seeing a lot of interest in developing ‘green’ (as in plant-based) label protein powders and protein powder beverages. Plant-based alternatives offer new and exciting possibilities for powdered beverage applications.”

Green foods have been readily available in juices, powders, tablets and capsules, and while Pines’ Levine knows they can now be regularly found in drinks, energy and protein bars, and blends, he admits powder is becoming the way to go. “Yes, the trend seems to be toward diverse uses of the greens,” Levine said, “but powdered blends always seem to be the hottest segment.”

Products and Ingredients

Hundreds of private and government studies suggest that increased consumption of vegetables may reduce incidence of cancer and heart disease, and lead to fewer health problems across the board, according to Pines’ website, www.wheatgrass.com. Further, nine of every 10 people fail to eat at least three to five servings of vegetables every day. However, there are plenty of ingredients available for manufacturers to decide if they could be useful for their products.

Cyvex offers an ingredient called AlfaPro, which, according to the company, is an alfalfa juice protein concentrate, made from 100 percent young alfalfa plants, is free of pesticides and fertilizers, and is GMO-free. Young alfalfa plants are harvested at their nutritional peak, and through an all natural process, the cold juice is pressed out of the plants and dried at a low temperature to minimize nutrient loss.The company is seeing an increased interest in potentially formulating AlfaPro into food bars, and has developed three different powders, depending on the application.

“Our newest ingredient is Alfalfa 95 percent, a sodium copper chlorophyllin ingredient derived from the nutritionally rich alfalfa plant,” said Cyvex’s Phillips, who explained that in vitro studies have reported chlorophyllin’s role as an active antioxidant with its potential to eliminate harmful toxins and carcinogens from the body, and its positive effects as a topical application to promote wound healing.

Valensa’s spirulina is another green food with nutritional value, consisting of a soft cell wall made of complex sugars and protein, making it different from most other algae sources in that it is easily digested. “Spirulina is a complete food that offers the highest quality protein (complete essential amino acids), phytopigments (beta-carotene, carotenoids and phycocyanin), essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals,” said Moerck.

Greenfoods.com contains a plethora of studies showing the effectiveness of green foods and grasses, as researchers have confirmed that barley grass has reduced the levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and oxygen free-radicals, as well as protecting LDL-vitamin E content and inhibiting LDL oxidation. In addition, a series of clinical studies have been published showing evidence that Green Magma provides support for the cardiovascular system in both healthy individuals and in those with blood sugar or blood lipid concerns.

“The advantage of green foods and grasses is getting top quality vegetable nutrition from a whole food source,” added Levine. “When broken down serving per serving on a price and nutritive basis, compared to vegetables such as spinach and kale, green foods compare very favorably.”

Introducing the Complete Green Food

There is consumer awareness that not all ingredients and formulated products offer the same nutritional value. However, Valensa’s spirulina is becoming a much more interesting option to consumers, due to its complete nutrition, including top sources of protein, vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

“Even within the spirulina category, consumers are responding to products that have higher levels of carotenoids, phytopigments such as phycocyanin and chlorophyll, as well as the essential fatty acid, GLA,” said Dr. Rudi E. Moerck, president and CEO of Valensa International. “These are the ingredients that consumers are looking for when they choose a spirulina product. They are gravitating to those products that can offer significant health benefits and that are higher in nutrition.”

Moerck believes that the demand for spirulina has been increasing steadily for the past couple of years, citing an October 2006 AARP magazine article reporting spirulina as the “No. 1 food that can add years to your life.”

Parry Nutraceuticals and Valensa recently commissioned two independent studies by outside laboratories on its organic spirulina, examining a series of batches over a period of several months (complete studies are available from Valensa). According to the company, these studies were complete analytical workups that looked at more than 30 different dietary and nutritional parameters including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and carotenoids of its organic spirulina.

They also compared Parry organic spirulina against Hawaiian spirulina on key parameters. When compared with published information on Hawaiian spirUlina, in the areas of key criteria, the studies showed that Parry organic spirulina had higher total carotenoids and more zeaxenthin, chlorophyll and GLA then the Hawaiian spirulina.

Moerck said that compared to other green foods, spirulina offers more complete nutrition than any other substance.

“Most green foods do not contain complete protein and unique phytopigments like phycocyanin,” explained Moerck.

“Parry organic spirulina has a protein level of 60 percent, which is better than red meat (27 percent protein) and soy (34 percent protein). This protein content is biologically complete, containing all of the essential amino acids needed for human health.”

Albion Minerals®
 
CapsCanada