Green powders are one of the fastest-growing supplements in the fitness world. Walk into any health food store and you'll see one bottle after another that promises a day's worth of veggies and fruits! For some, this may seem too good to be true. There's no way you can get all the nutrients you need from vegetables and fruits from only one scoop of green powder... Right?
Although these supplements seem too good to be true, they can provide you with some pretty great benefits! They won't be the magic powder that allows you to completely stop eating your greens, but they will help boost your nutrient intake on the days you need it the most – And let's be honest, we can all use a little boost in our daily greens intake!
So, in short, yes green powders are good and can provide you with certain health benefits. However, knowing more about these powders, how they work, and what to look for will ensure that you're maximizing the benefits of this dietary supplement, and not heavily relying on it!
What do green powders do?
Green powders are essentially designed to give you a full serving of fruits and veggies to give your body the essential nutrients it might be lacking. They are made in two different ways. The most common way is to dehydrate fruits, green vegetables, and other healthy compounds to be crushed into a powder. Or they are made by extracting the juice from the compounds, drying it, and then crushing it to form a powder. The powder is then mixed into water, smoothies, or other juices to provide a low-calorie, but nutrient and vitamin-rich drink!
Green powders share a lot of common ingredients, a bulk of them being "superfoods", or plant compounds that are rich in antioxidants and provide anti-inflammatory functions. Some even contain probiotics and digestive enzymes to provide even further benefits! A good green powder will provide you with an array of health benefits, including...
Naturally boost energy levels
Many green powders claim to boost your energy due to specific ingredients it has. For example, some contain superfood ingredients like kale and spinach which are natural sources of iron. Those who are iron deficient are often fatigued, and drinking greens powders can help support healthier iron levels which in turn naturally increases energy. This was seen to be true during a small study conducted on two groups of women. One group took one tablespoon of a specific greens powder along with green tea extract daily for 12 weeks, while the other had a placebo. The group that supplemented with greens powder had a significant increase in self-reported energy compared to the placebo.
Some green powders contain green tea extract. Green tea extract is a natural source of caffeine and contains other plant compounds that help you feel energetic and alert. This is a great supplement for those who prefer not to take pre-workout or energy drinks.
Give your immune system a boost
Every green powder varies from brand to brand, but despite that, they all share a common trait... They contain a hefty dose of vitamin C, vitamin A, and other immune-boosting nutrients. It depends on the ingredients and the dosages for each, but good greens powders can provide you with nutrients that are known for keeping your immune system functioning at optimal levels. In fact, there's a study that showed regular supplementation with a greens powder resulted in increased blood levels of specific nutrients including vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and retinol (two forms of vitamin A that help boosts your skin health)!
Gut health is more important than you think! Having a healthy gut will help keep your digestive system working at optimal levels, and prevent you from having issues absorbing nutrients from food. Fortunately, several super greens powders have added probiotics, prebiotics, and even an enzyme blend to help with digestion. Plus, fiber from the veggies and fruits helps boost your digestive health too! Probiotics or live bacteria help maintain a healthy guy by decreasing the number of bad bacteria and increasing the good ones. A prebiotic and fiber blend, like organic inulin and flaxseed, help sustain the good bacteria in your guy. So, a scoop of super greens powders a day can help ease constipation and boost the health of your digestive system!
This one may come as a surprise (a great one for fitness lovers)! Super green powders that contain spirulina can help improve athletic endurance. Spirulina is considered a superfood due to the slew of health benefits it provides. This blue-green alga contains chock-full of nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties, it contains all essential amino acids, and has been shown to improve endurance. The antioxidant properties are what helps minimize exercise-induced oxidative damage, a contributor to muscle fatigue. However, it comes down to the amount of spirulina in the greens powder blend you choose.
Aside from spirulina, some green powders can even contain an adaptogens/mushroom blend that is designed to help you overcome physical and mental stress. For example, PeakO2 is an organic-certified combination of six adaptogenic mushrooms that help increase power and endurance by improving oxygen utilization and decreasing lactate. This helps athletes and lifters train longer so they're able to run longer than before or push through one to two more reps. So, if training performance is something important to you consider getting a green powder that contains spirulina and/or a PeakO2 blend!
Super greens powders have even more potential benefits like supporting hormone balance, detoxification, reducing inflammation, and they can even help balance blood sugar. But it all comes down to finding one with optimal doses of each ingredient so you get as much nutritional value from it to reap the benefits!
How to find the best green powder
After learning more about green powders and its benefits, ask yourself, are green powders good for you?
If they are, and you want to start supplementing with green powders as a way to increase your vegetable intake and improve your overall health and wellness then it's time to find a good one! Unfortunately, they can contain anywhere from 20-40 or more different ingredients with really long names that might confuse you. This can make finding the best green powder challenging, but lucky for you, we've broken down a list of good ingredients to look for.
To find a high-quality green superfood powder, look for some or all of these nutrient-dense ingredients:
- Dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale, collards, and parsley.
- Grasses: Alfalfa grass, barley grass, wheatgrass, and oat grass.
- Other vegetables and antioxidant-rich fruits: Acai berries, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries, pineapple, and citrus bioflavonoids extracts. Broccoli, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and green cabbage.
- Sea vegetables: Spirulina, chlorella, dulse, and kelp.
- Mushrooms: Maitake mushroom extract, reishi mushroom extract, and shiitake mushroom extract.
- Prebiotics and fiber: Rice bran, inulin, tapioca starch, and apple fiber.
- Probiotics: Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
- Digestive enzyme blend: Amylase, astragalus root powder extract, cellulase, lipase, papain, and protease.
- Natural sugar substitutes: Stevia leaf extract, and monk fruit extract.
These are a list of common good ingredients to look for, the best green powder for you will depend on what you're using it for. If you're looking for a boost in energy and endurance then look for one with green tea extract, spirulina, or a peak O2 blend. If you just want to boost your vegetable intake then make sure it has plenty of dark leafy greens and other cruciferous and root vegetables! Also, opt for brands that use organic or non-GMO ingredients. If they're not listed as organic or non-GMO then there's a chance that the green powder is filled with cheap fillers (like grains and soy) and artificial sweeteners, but less of the good stuff.
How to incorporate it into your daily diet
As far as how to take this supplement, always follow the instructions on the greens powder you purchased. The most common way to use it is by stirring it in water or juice, but if you want to get creative add it into your protein shake, smoothies, mix it into a homemade salad dressing, stir them in your soup, or even sprinkle it on top of your roasted vegetables!
Whatever way you decide to incorporate it into your diet, make sure to never rely on it. Green powders are not a substitute for whole foods in your diet. They are merely a great way to get enough of your daily greens and nutrient needs so you can reap the health benefits from them.