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Greens powders have long been a fixture on supplement shelves. With a little help from social media, their popularity has exploded. The market for greens powders is estimated to reach nearly $400 million in the US—that’s double its value since 2018! A lot of us are giving them a try, perhaps looking for a quick and easy way to reach the recommended five cups of vegetables and fruits each day, along with other purported benefits like digestive support, more energy, and disease prevention. It may seem ideal to stir or blend a scoop or two of greens powder into a water or a smoothie to achieve instant nutrition and health benefits, but does this dietary supplement really deliver? They will never compare to eating whole foods, but powdered greens may offer some potential to get us closer to that daily five and maybe even a few additional benefits.
What Are Super Greens Powders?
Green powders are made either by dehydrating and crushing the whole vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients, by juicing them first, then drying and grinding them into a powder, or a combination of both. Though it varies by brand, they generally contain a blend of lots (upwards of 40 or more) of green vegetables, grasses, sea vegetables, and herbs. Non-green veggies are often in the mix, along with fruits for additional antioxidants and sweetness. Some brands add natural sugar substitutes, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, adaptogens, and added fiber. Here are some common ingredients:
- Barley grass
- Wheat grass
- Ashwagandha root
- Sour cherry
- Carrot root
- Beet root
- Ginger root
Because greens powders are supplements, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means ingredients, quality, and serving size may be questionable. Make sure the manufacturer is a trusted source and look for brands that are certified through a third-party testing laboratory.
Nutrition of Super Greens Powders
Different ingredients between brands means different nutritional values, but a serving (usually one scoop, which is about two tablespoons, or 10-12 grams) of greens powders is likely low in macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs), dietary fiber, sodium, and sugars, but a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, iron, zinc, and folate. Although more research is needed, one small study (International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 2019) showed that taking fruit and vegetable powder capsules for eight weeks did increase blood levels of some nutrients, including vitamin C and beta-carotene. However, supplements like greens powders are not a replacement for eating whole vegetables and fruits, as research shows that processing vegetables and fruits diminishes some of the nutrients and health-promoting compounds
Greens Powder in Action: How To Drink Your Super Greens
The simplest way to use greens powder is to mix it into liquids like water, milk, juice, and broth, or blend it into smoothies, yogurt, and hot cereals. They’re also an easy add-in to scrambled eggs, frittatas, soups, and stews, sprinkled over roasted or sautéed vegetables and whole grain side dishes, or mixed into sauces, dips, and dressings. They do, however, cost significantly more than whole vegetables and fruits.
Super Greens Powder Benefits
In addition to boosting nutrient intake, super greens powder drinks are marketed for a number of health benefits, including improved energy, improved blood pressure, and protection against oxidative damage. But, the studies on the health benefits of greens powder are small, as research is still emerging. Because greens powders are supplements, research is often funded by individual companies, which brings bias into the equation.
Are Super Greens Worth It?
It’s always better to consume whole vegetables and fruits, but a supplement like greens powder may help increase nutrient and overall vegetable intake. The best approach is to combine them as part of a healthy lifestyle and diet that’s also rich in whole vegetables and fruits.