A flood of green powder floods the market shelves. Most claim they provide daily nutrition – some promise more. Some of the additional claims you may see include improved energy, immunity, circulation and digestion. But how safe are these green powders, which can pack 20, 30, or even 75 ingredients? Here’s why you should think twice before using green powder on a regular basis.
While this varies by brand, you’ll usually find a combination of ingredients, which may include vitamins, minerals, probiotics, adaptogens, enzymes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Although many individual components may be studied, they interact differently when combined. Also, there is very little research on these powders because they contain a lot of ingredients. Additionally, many of the adaptogens in the green powder interact with everyday medications, such as blood clotting medications, or are contraindicated for health conditions, such as diabetes. Most green powders don’t list warnings or precautions, so be sure to check with your doctor or registered dietitian (RDN) before taking them on a regular basis.
Dietary supplements like green powder are not well regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the ingredients, ingredient quantities or even nutritional information you find under Supplement Facts may not be accurate. If you do choose to take green powder, look for third-party verification to make sure what’s on the label is actually in the can.
Many of these supplements offer ingredients you might consider healthy. However, they are often not necessary and are often touted as healthy when they are not. Here are some examples:
Chlorophyll: There are claims that chlorophyll can help provide energy, aid in weight loss, and even prevent cancer, however, there is little research to support these claims.
Essential Fatty Acids: While some labels don’t say what ingredients you’re getting your essential fatty acids from, the main essential fatty acids they may be talking about are omega-3 fats. You can get a variety of omega-3 fats from walnuts, canola oil, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna, so you don’t need to take supplements to get these nutrients.
Antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are one of the main sources of antioxidants. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 people meet the daily recommended amount of vegetables (meaning, they may also be deficient in some antioxidants). Instead of opting for super expensive powders, increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables to get these antioxidants.
Digestive enzymes: Some green powders contain enzymes that help catalyze chemical reactions in the body. Enzymes are produced naturally in your body and do not need to be taken as a green powder every day. For example, the enzyme lipase helps break down fats — your body makes this enzyme naturally.
Bottom line: Save your money by skipping any of these green blends. They just contain too many ingredients, and there is little evidence of their effectiveness at the recommended doses. If you do choose to try any of these blends, be sure to check with your health professional first about any health or drug interactions, and make sure the blend is third-party verified.