It’s no secret that most people don’t eat enough vegetables.
Greens powders are dietary supplements designed to help you reach your daily recommended vegetable intake.
Product labels claim that greens powders can support your body’s immunity, energy levels, detoxification and more — but you may wonder if science supports these purported benefits.
Article is published in Healthline.com written by Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD on November 26, 2018.
What Are Greens Powders?
Greens powders are dietary supplements that you can mix into water and other liquids. They typically have a green hue and can taste a bit grassy. Natural sugar substitutes are often added to improve flavor.
Greens powders generally contain 25–40 or more different ingredients:
Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, collards, parsley
Seaweed: Spirulina, chlorella, dulse, kelp
Other vegetables: Broccoli, beets, carrots, tomatoes, green cabbage
Grasses: Barley grass, wheatgrass, oat grass, alfalfa grass
High-antioxidant fruits: Blueberries, raspberries, goji and acai berries
Nutritional extracts: Green tea extract, grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba extract
Probiotics: Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis
Plant-based digestive enzymes: Amylase, cellulase, lipase, papain, protease
Herbs: Holy basil, astragalus, echinacea, milk thistle
Mushrooms: Maitake mushroom extract, shiitake mushroom extract
Natural sugar substitutes: Stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract
Extra fiber: Rice bran, inulin, apple fiber
The produce used in these supplements is generally dried and then ground into powder. Greens powders are generally low in calories but high in certain minerals and vitamins, including selenium, iodine, chromium and vitamins A, C and K, as well as plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.
The nutrients and plant compounds in greens powders may support overall wellness when used in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Do Green Powder Supplements Really Work?
Green powder supplements can work when you choose a supplement with the right combination of ingredients at the appropriate dose. You may be wondering “is kale powder good for you?” Powdered kale is a frequent ingredient in greens powders. Part of the reason green powders work is the ingredients in them. The benefits of kale include vitamin A, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids it contains. And, this is just one ingredient.
There’s a reason the ingredients in the green powder supplements are classified as “superfoods.” These ingredients have earned that title because of the health benefits they offer. Superfoods are picked at their optimal ripeness and include many veggies that picky eaters won’t frequently eat.
Supplementing your daily diet with green powder serves as extra insurance that you are getting enough nutrients. It may be difficult to get enough of these nutrients, even if you are someone who eats fruits and veggies every day. There are three major reasons for this.
Green powder supplements consist of pre-juiced fruits and veggies such as brussels sprouts and raw kale that provide a higher concentration of phytonutrients in comparison to raw fruit and veggie consumption. This is the reason juicing of veggies and fruits has become such an enormous health trend. But, the way most superfoods are packaged is by “freeze-drying” them to preserve nutrients.
For instance, most people don’t eat five servings of kale, broccoli, and spinach in one sitting. The major reason for this is that eating too many leafy greens at one time can sometimes cause diarrhea. However, drinking juice made from five servings of these veggies may be more feasible and easier to digest.
High-quality and branded green powders often contain a significant amount of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics are health-friendly bacteria that allow your body to properly digest, absorb, and make use of all the phytonutrients the green powder superfoods provide.
Powders Don´t a Substitute for Whole Vegetables
Eating a wide variety of whole vegetables and other produce as part of a well-rounded diet is the best way to achieve nutritional balance and avoid excesses of any one nutrient.
In their whole form, vegetables give you the satisfaction of chewing and are high in water. Both of these aspects promote fullness and may help prevent overeating. In this regard, greens powders are less satisfying.
Additionally, greens powders are low in fiber, typically only providing 1–2 grams per serving, though sometimes extra fiber is added.
Note that greens powders are generally high in vitamin K. This vitamin interacts with certain medications, including blood thinners. Therefore, they may interfere with treatment. It’s best practice to speak to your doctor before taking any new supplement — greens powders are no exception.
How to Use?
It’s most common to stir the the powder into water, juice, milk or milk substitutes and smoothies.
If you’d rather not drink your greens powder, you can:
- Add them to scrambled eggs or an omelet
- Sprinkle them over roasted vegetables
- Mix them into homemade salad dressing
- Stir them into a vegetable dip
- Add them to soup
However, when you heat greens powder, you may decrease or get rid of some of the nutrients, including vitamin C and probiotics.
If your vegetable intake tends to drop when you travel, consider taking greens powder with you to help maintain your nutrition.
There is ample evidence that the brands of green powders that are high quality and reputable really work. These brands of green powder supplements contain the maximum number of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and ingredients that are non-genetically-modified and are organic. Therefore, you should select a green powder that comprises a significantly above-average quantity of superfoods. Your green powder supplement should also contain natural digestive enzymes and probiotics to aid with proper digestion and absorption of the superfoods.
Depending on your dietary and health requirements, green powders could be a cost-effective option to maximize your nutrient intake. On the other hand, if you do not need extra nutrition and are quite healthy, then greens powders could be a waste of money.
It all comes down to your personal situation that determines your need for a green powder supplementation and what nutrition your body needs considering the health issues you have.
Always speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have concerns related to your nutritional health.