Jun 19, 2023
Greens Powders are Popular, but Are They Worth It? Dietitians Weigh In
While green powders are not a new product, their popularity has skyrocketed thanks to the online wellness community. But do they actually work? It’s no surprise that most people don’t eat enough
While green powders are not a new product, their popularity has skyrocketed thanks to the online wellness community. But do they actually work?
It’s no surprise that most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, only about 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. actually meet the federal fruit and vegetable guidelines.
If you happen to be one of those people who struggle to get in your daily dose of minerals and vitamins, there may be a solution for you: greens powder. These dietary supplements are designed to boost your overall health and help you reach your daily fruit and veggie intake.
Liz Weinandy, MPH, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian nutritionist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, cited popular posts on TikTok and Instagram as the reason for the greens powder resurgence.
Many green powder products on the market—including from brands like Bloom Nutrition, Vital Proteins, Nutra Champs, and Amazing Grass claim to increase the number of nutrients a person takes, boost energy, reduce bloating, improve gastrointestinal health, and detoxify the body.
Here’s what you should know about green powders, what to look for when choosing a product, and if they’re truly worth your time and money, according to dietitians.
Getty Images / Oscar Wong
Crystal Scott, RD, LD, a certified registered dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching, described greens powders as dietary supplements that typically contain a blend of dehydrated fruits, vegetables, herbs, and sometimes probiotics and other nutrients.
Depending on the brand and company, green powders can contain anywhere from 25 to 40 or more different ingredients—including spinach, kale, kelp, parsley, beets, carrots, grasses, blueberries, raspberries, green tea extracts, fibers, and mushrooms. They are generally designed to be mixed with water or another liquid.
Greens powders aim to provide people with a concentrated source of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that may be lacking in their diet, Roxana Ehsani, RD, LDN, a board-certified sports dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami, Florida, told Health. They are intended to help people reach their daily recommended vegetable and fruit intake.
“Only 10% of Americans are meeting their dietary goals for fruits and vegetables,” Ehsani reiterated. “Supplementing with a greens powder can help them get their fruits, veggies, vitamins, and minerals and fill in dietary shortfalls.”
Research suggests that greens powders may offer several potential health benefits, Scott said. One study found that a greens powder supplement improved gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the gut.
A second study discovered that a greens powder supplement improved markers of immune function and reduced markers of inflammation in the body of 26 older adults who consumed a greens powder supplement for 90 days.
While these studies demonstrate the potential health benefits that greens powders can provide, none of them included large numbers of participants, nor did they take place over a longer span of time.
Scott noted that more research—research that’s longer and includes more participants—is needed to determine if there are any real health benefits and effectiveness of greens powders.
Since many green powders are made from fruits and vegetables, they can help provide people with nutrients and vitamins that may be missing in their diet. On the other hand, green powders can be expensive and in some cases cost more than fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables, Weinandy noted.
“These powders are very expensive for what they are. An ounce of popular greens and superfoods in berry flavors costs $6.25 an ounce online. An ounce of dark leafy greens that includes spinach and kale comes in around .80 cents an ounce,” she said. “Even when taking the fact that the product is dried and powdered, the cost difference is significant.”
Weinandy added another downside of using green powders—it can impact the psychological mindset of an individual. By using green powders, some people may think they are meeting their quota or requirement for fruits and vegetables when they are not.
According to Scott, it’s possible to overconsume certain nutrients when taking green powders, which may lead to unwanted weight gain or other effects on the body. Additionally, due to their high fiber content, some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or bloating from consuming green powders.
If you’re going to add greens powders to your diet, balance is crucial.
Instead of relying solely on supplements, dietitians recommend getting your fruits and vegetables from whole and natural sources first, such as fresh fruits and veggies, frozen, or canned options.
“As a long-time practicing Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I do not generally recommend these products,” Weinandy clarified. “I find the majority of people who use greens powders are not focusing on real food they eat.”
She added that while many of the ingredients in these powders are healthy, they are in such small amounts and are “nowhere close” to the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables people should be consuming.
While greens powders aren’t generally recommended for everyone, they can be a convenient and effective way to boost nutrient intake for those who struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables, don’t have enough time to prepare meals, are constantly on the go, and traveling frequently, or have dietary restrictions, food allergies or intolerances, Scott noted.
If you would like to start using greens powders in your dietary plan, you shouldn’t only use a supplement for your fruit and vegetable intake, Ehsani noted. That’s because you can miss out on the water content found in whole fruits and vegetables.
“You shouldn’t opt for a greens powder over consuming a cup of leafy greens or a piece of fruit,” Ehsani reiterated. “Water content in fruits and veggies can help fill you up more, keep you hydrated, and feel more satisfied.”
The recommended serving size for green powders can vary depending on the brand and product along with the individual’s nutrient needs, Weinandy said. Generally, most of these powders have a serving size of around one scoop or 5.44 grams.
Scott noted it’s important to follow the serving size recommended on the product label, however, if you are unsure of what the serving size should be, consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian.
Since there are many greens powder options available on the market, it can be overwhelming to find one that you trust. Here are some tips from dietitians on finding a high-quality greens powder:
Lee SH, Moore LV, Park S, Harris DM, Blanck HM. Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations—United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;71(1):1-9. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7101a1
Vieira AT, Teixeira MM, Martins FS. The role of probiotics and prebiotics in inducing gut immunity. Front Immunol. 2013;4:445. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00445
Wang J, Hong Z, Wang N, et al. Effects of a dietary supplement on inflammatory marker expression in middle-aged and elderly hypertensive patients. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2019;74:e890. doi:10.6061/clinics/2019/e890Talk with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitianRead the label and ingredients Look for third-party testing Try different products