In recent years you have no doubt noticed an increase in greens powders available. Whether you’ve seen them on the shelves of your local grocery store, via ads on social media or you’ve heard recommendations from your friends, there is no shortage of hype around green supplements.
With claims that these powders support overall wellness, improve immunity, and benefit digestive health, you may think they are a no-brainer to include in your wellness regimen. But while some options can definitely be additive to your overall nutrient intake and come along with benefits, not all options are created equally.
Read on to learn more about what greens powders are, if there’s any evidence to support their claims, how to pick the best supplement for your health goals, and if they are really worth the hype. And for more, don’t miss 9 Best High-Protein Foods for Building Lean Muscle.
What Are Greens Powders?
Green powders are a supplement made from numerous ingredients. Most often, you’ll find these powders made from greens and other vegetables, and they also may include probiotics and digestive enzymes to boost their wellness benefits. Seeing the supplement facts of a greens powder can be overwhelming as you can easily find lists that include tens of ingredients, some of which are not the least bit familiar.
Some of the other ingredients commonly found in green powders include adaptogen mushrooms, fruits, and fiber blends. These additional ingredients beyond the base of greens are one of the main differentiators from one greens powder to the next. You’ll also find some options are flavored to help disguise the green taste while others embrace the natural earthiness of the product without any added flavors or sweeteners.
A Review of The Health Claims: Is There Any Evidence?
There is no shortage of health claims associated with greens powders, but do these supplements really stand up to the hype? According to research, you may want to consider adding one of these popular powders to your routine.
You likely aren’t surprised to hear most adults don’t eat enough vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one in 10 adults eats enough fruits and veggies. This means Americans could be shorting themselves on the valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they consume on a daily basis. In fact, this shortcoming in produce intake could increase the risk of developing chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, according to the CDC report. With this in mind, a greens powder may be a convenient way to boost your intake of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
While the supplement facts of a greens powder may not include every micronutrient found in the product, you’ll frequently see certain nutrients listed. Vitamins A, C, and K are three of the more frequently listed nutrients, and some labels will include others, like potassium, selenium, and more. Across the board, green powders are generally low in calories and contain concentrated amounts of plant compounds with antioxidant effects.
Even if you eat the recommended two to three cups of vegetables per day, you may still benefit from a daily greens powder supplement. In fact, one study conducted using a greens powder suggested the antioxidant properties of this powder could play a role in reducing your risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, these supplements generally contain notable amounts of vitamins A and C that benefit the immune system. The probiotics found in green powders can also aid the digestive system and support immunity.
While not a substitute for a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, a greens powder appears to promote well-being through several mechanisms.
How To Choose The Best Greens Powder
With documented benefits and little downside to incorporating a green supplement into your daily routine, you may be interested in purchasing one of these powders. With so many products available, deciphering the best for you comes down to your personal needs and preferences, and there are a few key factors to keep in mind when choosing a greens powder.
Start by looking at certifications. For example, you’ll see options free from dairy and soy, amongst other allergens, and varieties that are also third-party tested to confirm the supplement fact panel.
Decide what your nutritional goals are. You’ll also want to choose your greens powder based on what you are looking to get from the supplements. All green powders will have a green base that is notable for providing immune benefits, and most will also include probiotics to aid your digestive system. If you are looking for a product with adaptogens that aid in mental health, you may choose a supplement that includes ingredients like Lion’s Mane mushroom, and if liver health is a top priority of you, milk thistle may be an ingredient you look for in your supplement.
Across the board, look for options with no added sugar and one that suits your budget. While some products may cost around one dollar per serving, others may be over three dollars.
Lastly, choose an option that you can enjoy on a regular basis. A product that you force yourself to take may result in less consistent usage. Instead, a greens powder with a sugar-free sweetener, like stevia, or flavoring may make the product more enjoyable, and therefore increase your daily compliance to the product.
The Verdict: Are Green Powders Worth The Hype?
Greens powders can certainly add value to your nutritional intake. These supplements provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other compounds that aid various body systems. While you should aim to eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables each day to reap their full benefits, a greens powder can be one way to fill nutritional gaps or add additional nutrients to your regular intake.
Melissa Rifkin, MS, RDN, CDN