What’s in a greens powder? How exactly do vegetables become powder? Are they actually healthy? What makes a greens powder “super”?
Indeed, this popular superfood product comes with a lot of questions, so we wanted to take a deep dive into the benefits and caveats of adding a super greens powder to your diet.
It should be stressed that supplements and powders should never replace eating a well-balanced diet and regular physical activity. A healthy diet rich in diverse plant-based foods can provide adequate amounts of nutrients that are found in powders. However, many people find this difficult and a super greens powder may be a helpful way to meet thresholds for important nutrients to maintain optimal health.
Considering much of the population doesn’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet, super greens powders serve as a convenient way to increase their daily intake of vegetables, including micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you get from consuming various greens and superfoods.
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Super Greens Powder Benefits Overview
Super greens powders have several purported benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, staving off chronic diseases, helping with weight maintenance, increasing immunity, enhancing skin health, and supporting gut health.
The convenience factor is another reason why many are drawn to adding greens powder supplements to their routine. With most powders, all you need to do is stir one scoop of powder into a glass of liquid. And there you have it — you have a green drink to slurp down a plethora of vitamins and minerals right then and there. It’s nice and efficient.
What Are Super Greens Powders?
Super greens powders are dietary supplements made from a blend of dehydrated vegetables, grasses, and other whole foods. Oftentimes, brands will add other ingredients that aren’t necessarily “greens,” but provide a different set of nutritional properties.
Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA; therefore, it’s important to inspect any powder or supplement for a certification seal. While this is not always a sure-fire way to separate good powders from bad, it provides an extra layer of credibility to what you’re buying.
What Is in a Super Greens Powder?
The ingredients in any super greens blend will vary by brand. If you’re after specific benefits, read the label carefully to ensure you are consuming your desired ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients in super greens powders are:
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale)
- Other fruits and vegetables (goji berries, blueberries)
- Probiotics and prebiotics
- Digestive enzymes
- Dietary fiber
- Green tea extract (for a natural energy boost)
- Grasses (barley grass, wheatgrass)
- Edible algae (sea kelp, chlorella, and spirulina)
- And more
What Is So Super About a Greens Powder?
Many of the ingredients in super greens powders are considered “superfoods” or “functional foods.” These may be whole foods like kale and blueberries or slightly processed foods like kefir.
A food gets labeled as “super” when its ingredients are reported to have multiple significant benefits to health or specific diseases. However, of course we shouldn’t just focus on eating superfoods; we need to consume all types of foods to have a well-rounded nutritious diet.
Many producers of greens powders combine a number of functional foods, or superfoods, with a green vegetable powder base, deeming the end product a “super greens blend.”
Super Greens Powder Health Benefits
Plant foods are rich sources of phytonutrients, which is an umbrella term for several types of nutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, etc. Phytonutrients are proven to positively impact human health.
Many of the key ingredients listed above are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Essential vitamins and minerals are found in a variety of plant foods. Specifically, leafy greens are prime sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and contain high levels of folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Even though algae has been a part of the human diet for centuries, it has resurfaced in mainstream nutrition as a superfood. There are many potential health benefits in edible algaes like spirulina and chlorella, and the ongoing research is promising.
Greens powders may help manage hypertension, or high blood pressure, in some people. In a study with 40 participants with hypertension, the treatment group received a daily dose of a greens powder supplement for 90 days. Blood pressure readings were significantly reduced in the treatment group compared to the placebo group.
The reason greens powders indicate gut health support is due mainly to the fact that many formulations contain probiotics and prebiotics, which are known to facilitate a healthy gut microbiome. Any added dietary fiber or digestive enzymes may also aid digestion.
A healthy immune system is vital for warding off pathogens that we inevitably come across in our day-to-day lives. While many things claim to “boost immunity,” that’s not exactly how it works — but you can create an optimal environment for your immune system to thrive.
The antioxidant properties in super greens powders help lower disease risk and support a healthy immune system. Antioxidants fight off free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is assumed to be a precursor to cell damage, which indicates disease.
Inflammation in the body is a natural response to stressful stimuli; however, chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases. Greens powders are usually high in anti-inflammatory compounds like antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols, which are found in fruits, vegetables, and green tea extract in greens powders are known particularly for their anti-aging properties.
Body pH is an important indicator of health. The pH scale for the human body ranges between 7.35 and 7.45, and a measurement outside of that range may indicate a health issue. Some research suggests that an alkaline diet may help keep the body at an adequate pH and prevent inflammation that leads to illness.
Amongst other things, vitamin C is a crucial vitamin for skin health. Consuming antioxidants is a great way to maintain healthy skin as well. Additionally, anything that benefits gut health will in turn benefit skin health as these two systems are interconnected.
Convenience Is Key
Sadly for many of us living in the modern world, time to cook nutritious whole food–based meals is limited. Hence why we are always looking for quicker and more efficient ways to accomplish what we need. In this case, it’s getting enough valuable nutrients every day.
Drinking super greens may be a quick and tasty way to get your daily recommended intakes of vitamins and minerals. Add super greens powder to a liquid like water or coconut water or toss a scoop into your smoothies. Ensure you take the recommended amount on the label and do not exceed the recommended serving.
Limitations of Super Greens Powders
While super greens powders have notable benefits, their use does come with some caveats.
The Fiber Factor
Perhaps the most obvious difference between greens powders and actual green vegetables is the difference in fiber content.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 38 grams for adult males and 25 grams for females. Considering only 1 in 10 Americans get enough fiber in their diet, this is a substantial problem. Many popular super greens powders only contain 1–2 grams of fiber per serving. However, a cup of cooked broccoli has roughly 5 grams of fiber. Again, this will vary by brand; some may add more dietary fiber than others.
Something to consider when weighing out the potential of super greens powder benefits is cost. For example, many popular brands of greens powders are priced between $50 and $70, which will last roughly a month if consuming the daily serving. A head of broccoli will typically range in price between $1.50 and $3.00, which has roughly 16 grams of dietary fiber according to the USDA.
When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, buying and eating whole foods will be more cost-effective than a powdered vegetable supplement. But, if adding a super greens supplement to your diet fits into your budget and lifestyle easier, then a powder may be a great healthy addition to your routine.
What to Avoid in Greens Powders
Greens powders vary in their ingredients, so you’ll want to check the ingredient list to ensure you’re buying just what you intend to.
To keep greens powders healthy, you’ll want to avoid powders that use artificial sweeteners or any hidden additives. Some may use natural sugar substitutes to enhance the flavor of the supplement.
To be safe, you should consult your doctor before starting a new supplement routine. Supplements can negatively interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. For instance, the high amounts of vitamin K in most greens powders may interact with blood thinners.
Though greens powders can be a good addition to some diets, they are not always necessary. If you already eat a well-balanced diet and don’t have any health issues, supplementation may not be needed.
It’s always best to have a nutrition and fitness expert evaluate your specific and tailor your diet and supplement regimen accordingly, whether your goals are maintaining a healthy weight or building a fitness routine. Get in touch with EverFlex today to reach your optimal health!
*The content in this article is for informative purposes only and is not to be used as medical advice. It is always best to consult with your doctor before beginning a new supplement regimen.