Anyone for a glass of POND SCUM? They don't look appetising, but health drinks full of everything from algae to kale are THE fashionable way to get your nutrients

  • Incorporating algaes and green vegetables into your diet is on trend
  • Landgrown greens add Vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium
  • Algaes are high in good fats and protein, as well as magnesium

Going green: Juice made from green algae and vegetables are all the rage

Going green: Juice made from green algae and vegetables are all the rage

They look as unappetising as many of them taste.

But ever since the wheatgrass shot became a health-food phenomenon – the bitter juice is said to do everything from boosting the immune system to warding off cancer – manufacturers have been falling over themselves to create new concoctions of green sludge that promise astonishing benefits.

Surely, anything this disgusting must be good for us. But, what exactly DOES this stuff do?

Known collectively as ‘greens’, these supplements are derived from nutrient-packed plants and organisms, found in liquid, powder, pill or capsule form.

They can be split into two categories. There are land-grown leaves and grasses, such as wheatgrass, barley-grass and kale, which are particularly rich in Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.

Then there are algaes, such as spirulina, chlorella and kelp, which are high in good fats and protein, as well as magnesium and a host of vitamins and minerals.

Manufacturers and retailers say modern diets and intensive farming have left us deprived of essential nutrients – particularly magnesium found in chlorophyll – which are abundant in these supplements.

Magnesium is vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure and boosts the immune and digestive systems.

Nutritional therapist Ian Marber says he takes a supplement combining several greens, and recommends them to his clients.

‘With so many foods available to us, we are very rarely deficient in essential nutrients,’ he says.

‘But that’s not to say that we couldn’t benefit from a little more of this or that. I use it in place of multivitamins.

'These “edible pond scums” are not chemical, and that means the body can absorb them more easily. They are good all-rounders and many of them contain probiotic bacteria.’

Miranda Kerr
Gwyneth Paltrow

Celebrity fans: Both Miranda Kerr and Victoria Beckham enjoy green juices to keep themselves glowing

Celebrities who consume the supergreen stuff certainly look as if they enjoy glowing health – Miranda Kerr, Poppy Delevingne and Victoria Beckham are among fans.

When model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley tweeted a picture of herself drinking a juice cocktail containing chlorella earlier this year, sales of one brand rocketed by 60 per cent: Sun Chlorella UK claims it had to order an emergency shipment from Japan in order to keep up with British demand.

In fact, chlorella is one of the most scientifically studied plant forms in the world, and has been hailed as a superfood since the 1940s when scientists believed it could be the high-yield, highly nutritious crop the world needed to feed the booming post-war population.

Popular plants: Algae supplements such as spirulina, pictured, and chlorella are seeing a sales burst in the UK

Popular plants: Algae supplements such as spirulina, pictured, and chlorella are seeing a sales burst in the UK

It has been available in the UK in tablet form for seven years, and in that time it has been reported that it reduces body-fat percentage and blood-glucose levels, helping those suffering from type 2 diabetes, heart disease or obesity.

Its energy-boosting, digestion-aiding qualities are among its other reported benefits, as is its ability to fight depression, reduce body odour and inhibit the body’s absorption of harmful chemicals.

Centuries before Gwyneth Paltrow started taking spirulina, Aztecs living on the banks of Lake Texcoco in Mexico were reaping the benefits of this protein and chlorophyll-packed blue-green algae, which provides all the essential amino acids.

The Ancient Greeks were no strangers to the wonders of kelp for digestive troubles, and some of the oldest Chinese herbal remedies were based on alfalfa.

Wheat and barley-grass supplements have never been more popular than in America in the 1930s, when the very first tablets hit the market.

Lucy Jones, spokesman for the British Dietetic Association and presenter of Channel 4’s Food Hospital, says: ‘We’ve known for a long time that they pack a punch in nutritional terms, and modern techniques mean they lose almost nothing when they are dried and turned into pills or powders. But more research is needed into their specific benefits before we can justify their cost.

‘Green supplements are extremely expensive. Their protein content is no better than that of milk or meat, but is about 30 times more expensive.

'Better sources of protein, as well as all the other vitamins and minerals they contain, can be found elsewhere at a far better price.

'So if you’re shopping for a supergreen supplement, I’d advise you pick a mixed one, or, better yet, ask yourself whether your money wouldn’t be better spent in the fruit and veg aisle.’