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Let’s talk about Greens Powders!

Updated: 17 hours ago

Greens powder – one of the trending supplements circulating the nutrition landscape. But…is it worth the money?

First, what even is green powder? The popular supplement on the market consist of a variety of nutrients, but the general idea is that it is a boost of vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetable derivatives without having to consume the fruits and vegetables themselves. Popular ingredients include spinach, wheatgrass, kale, antioxidant blends from berries, etc. Many of the supplements also include probiotics for an extra gut-health benefit.

While supplements have a time and a place, they should not take the place of real food. The benefits of consuming real food cannot be ground up and packaged into a powder unfortunately. Real food offers nutrients like fiber, protein, natural digestive properties, that processed greens do not have. The goal is 1 and ½ to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day! The body is also able to process the nutrients from real food better than supplemented ingredients – so although you may think you are getting the double-whammy of nutrients, your body may not be absorbing as much as you think.

Another problem that comes with supplements, especially with the growing popularity of greens powder, is that the quality and content of the powder may be misrepresented. When purchasing greens powder, make sure to research the company and their processing. Some tests have shown heavy metals in lower-quality powders, which you want to avoid. In addition, some powders may emphasize their nutrient content, but in reality, the “greens” content of the powder is actually a small ratio compared to the other ingredients.

An easy way to determine the greens content of the powder is to look at the ingredient label! Check out the serving size of the powder, and compare it to the weight (usually in grams) of the powder. If they are close – this means that most of the serving is coming from greens. If it is significantly lower, you may want to re-think that brand.

While there are aspects you want to be aware of when purchasing a greens powder, it still can be a nice addition to your routine. While the greens should not replace your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, it can be a nice boost when life gets busy. It also can be a nice way to start your day and create a morning routine. Starting the day with the mindset of health and nourishing your body can set you up for healthy choices the rest of the day. Many green supplements also have added probiotics and prebiotics for an additional gut-health benefit. Again, nothing replaces real food, but this added boost can be supportive for those who struggle with their gut health and regularity.

Another way you can boost your micronutrients for the day, without spending a fortune on greens powder, is to make your own green smoothie! Green smoothies are an easy, cost-effective way to get a nutrient-packed snack (or meal depending on your additions) and is loaded with real food for all those additional benefits.

Some of my favorite green smoothie tips and tricks are:

- Freeze the produce! I freeze all produce from the greens (like spinach, kale, mixed greens) to fruit. It lasts longer, is usually cheaper to buy bulk frozen fruit, and makes for a creamier consistency. I try to buy fresh greens that are not pre-packaged because they tend to be cheaper and I wash and freeze!

- Rotate the fruit and vegetables. This is a great way to spice up your vitamins and minerals, but also keep it interesting and something you look forward to! Try a pina-colada inspired smoothie one week and a berry blast the next! It is SO customizable to your taste!

- Pack on the bold flavors. If the green taste is too strong for you, incorporate bold flavors like nut butter, cocoa, vanilla, fruit – this will help to minimize the green flavor.

- For a more satisfying, hormone-balancing smoothie, add in some protein and healthy fat! Whether that is a protein or collagen powder, nut butter, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, whatever it may be – some additional protein and healthy fat can make it more fulfilling.

** Vitamins A,D,E, and K need fat in order to be absorbed – so if you are having these greens on an empty stomach, chances are you are not absorbing all those good vitamins!

As always, do what works for you and your routine, but these are some flexible, quality options to help you find what supports your health best.

Happy Eating – Emily LaBombard, MPH, RDN, LDN

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