You’ve likely heard since you were a child to eat your fruits and vegetables — and for good reason. There are tons of benefits to getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet every day. But, in the busy, on-the-go lifestyle of many adults, there never seem to be enough hours in the day, and it can be difficult to reach the recommended intake. Can greens powder help?
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Greens powder can be made of many things, depending on which brand you choose. It’s a powder made of dried fruits and vegetables that can be mixed into water or a smoothie, making it easy to consume all your vegetable needs in one quick drink. Convenient, but it might leave you wondering if it has all the same benefits as eating whole produce. Let’s dive in to find out if greens powder is a magical green elixir after all.
Editor’s Note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, it is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.
What Is Greens Powder?
Greens powder is a supplement made from blended dried vegetables, fruits, and often other added phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. (1) They’re marketed as a way to get your full recommended daily intake of vegetables in one drink in the morning by mixing the concentrated powder with water.
Greens powders are often composed of vegetables, fruits, and other substances including, but not limited to, the following:
Different brands offer different ingredients, so your benefits may vary depending on which one you choose. While these powders are not Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, carefully choosing a greens powder that works for you might be a great addition to a diet already rich in plant nutrients.
Greens powder can be quite expensive, so they’re not always an accessible way to pack your daily vegetable needs into your life. But research suggests that greens powder might boost your overall health and help you get in some nutrients you may be lacking. (1)
Potential Benefits of Greens Powder
You can get all your nutrient needs from eating vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods in your diet every day. But if you’re interested and able to add in a greens powder, there are plenty of potential benefits you can reap.
Conveniently Increase Your Veggie Intake
Studies have shown that across much of the world, the daily intake of fruits and vegetables is often below the recommended level. (1) If you’ve got a busy lifestyle, adding a greens powder to your morning routine can be a quick way to be sure you’re hitting your nutrient goals.
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For strength athletes who meal prep, you might find yourself eating the same things day to day. Greens powder can help you get more of a variety of phytonutrients that you might not be getting. Research suggests that getting a greater variety of fruits and vegetables may have a bigger impact on various health markers than a less varied diet. (2)
Greens powders often contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are important to your cellular health and they help fight free radicals caused by oxidative stress. (3) One cause of oxidative stress is exercise, so antioxidants can be beneficial for strength athletes looking to optimize their recovery.
Some examples of substances that function as antioxidants are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, minerals, and other phytonutrients. It’s possible to get all of these from whole food sources in your diet, and choosing a greens powder that includes these antioxidants can give you an additional boost.
May Lower Blood Pressure
If you struggle with hypertension — high blood pressure — adding greens powder to your overall diet may help you lower it. A study done on people with hypertension showed that after 90 days of taking a fruit and vegetable powder mix, both diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels decreased. (5)(6)
Improves Heart Health
Consistent access to high-quality nutrition is a key factor in maintaining heart health and preventing cardiovascular diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day to prevent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. (1)
Results of a study done on a population receiving a supplement of fruit and vegetable powder showed that it may decrease the burden of cardiovascular diseases. (1) While greens powder shouldn’t replace whole fruit and vegetable intake, it can be a great addition to your heart health.
Spirulina May Boost Immune System
Many greens powders contain spirulina. Spirulina has become a popular “functional food” in recent nutrition culture. It’s a blue-green alga that’s been shown to improve immune functions and has anti-inflammatory effects.
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Spirulina has been FDA-approved, which makes it a generally safe addition to your diet. (7) For strength athletes, spirulina contains some protein and amino acids as well, which can give you a great boost for recovery. (8)
Other ingredients in greens powder are also good for your immune system, such as vitamins A, B, C, zinc, and selenium. If you’d like to reap the additional benefits of spirulina, which has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune system-stimulating effects, consider choosing a greens powder that includes it. (9)
May Improve Digestion
Some types of greens powders include the addition of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Ingesting probiotics has been shown to improve intestinal health, help with bowel disorders, and improve digestion. (10) Digestive enzymes help break down protein and carbs and may help manage digestive disorders. (11)
If you have gastrointestinal distress and have trouble digesting vegetables, including probiotics and digestive enzymes in your diet may be beneficial. However, diarrhea has also been reported as a side effect of some greens powders, so it’s not a one size fits all approach.
Balances Blood Sugar
Blood sugar levels are important to balance, especially for people with diabetes. Including leafy greens and berries in your diet is beneficial for managing your blood sugar. Choosing a greens powder with these ingredients can help you get more of that into your life. A recent study showed that collard greens in particular have an antihyperglycemic effect. (12)
An increased intake of vegetables in general is beneficial to lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. (13) So if you’re not opting for greens powder, you can try to consume more whole vegetables to reap this benefit.
Boosts Brain Health
Studies have shown that the consumption of green leafy vegetables may help to slow the decline of cognitive abilities in older age. (14) It’s not only the nutrients in green vegetables that contribute, but the bioactives as well, including vitamin K, lutein, carotene, nitrate, and folate. (14)
When choosing a greens powder, if you’re looking to boost cognitive function and brain health, consider looking for an option that includes those bioactives.
Greens Powder Myths
It’s easy to get swept up in the latest nutrition trends, and it’s generally best to do your own research and consult with health professionals before adding supplements to your diet. Let’s take a look at some popular myths about greens powder.
Myth: I can have greens powder instead of eating fruits and vegetables.
If greens powder is right for you, it’s a great addition to an overall healthy diet, rich in nutrients you get from whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
While some packages will promise that the powder is your full daily intake, remember that it’s still a supplement and you’ll ideally use food to fuel your body’s needs. Greens powder is a convenient way to get all of that goodness if you’re traveling or unable to get your whole foods in.
Myth: Greens powder will make me lose weight.
Simply mixing greens powder with water and drinking it in the morning will not make you lose weight. If your goal is fat loss, you want to eat a proper balance of macronutrients for your body and goals, and combine that with following a structured training program.
If you’re doing all of that, then adding in greens powder can help make sure you’re getting all your nutrients, especially if you’re in a caloric deficit.
Myth: All greens powder is the same.
Different brands contain different ingredients. When choosing a greens powder, be sure to read everything it contains. Everyone’s body is different and while there are general health benefits, if you’ve got digestive issues, you may be looking for something different from your greens powder than someone who doesn’t.
Potential Drawbacks of Greens Powder
Greens powder is a quick and convenient way to get in tons of nutrients and bioactives from leafy green vegetables and fruits. Still, there are some potential drawbacks.
Greens powder, like many supplements, has not been FDA-approved. Some of them may contain additives and chemicals. Supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA prior to marketing. (15) That doesn’t make them inherently dangerous, but the lack of FDA regulation may be something to keep in mind.
Not a Source of Fiber
When fruits and vegetables are compounded into powder, they lose some of their fiber content. Greens powder may have fiber from other ingredients. But ultimately, you’ll get more fiber from eating whole fruits and vegetables.
May Cause Diarrhea
Greens powder can be helpful if you have trouble digesting whole vegetables. However, greens powder can have a significant drawback in that department. Greens powder may cause diarrhea in some users. Introducing a new ingredient to your system can often cause gastrointestinal distress.
Eat Your Greens
The benefits of packing plenty of vegetables and fruits into your diet are well known. Greens powder can be a fantastic addition to a well-rounded diet to help you get some key nutrients you may be missing out on, and reap a variety of health benefits. If you can’t afford a pricey powder, the good news is that you can still get all that you need from whole foods.
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