You see them everywhere now, green powders looking like pond water and claiming to do wonders for your health.
GoNutrition complete greens blend is a cheap affordable blend boasting 39 ingredients
But are there any real benefits? Read on to get a brief overview on what they can actually do for you.
“A green powder supplement is like a multivitamin on steroids,” nutritionist Teresa Boyce says. “They offer you all the vitamins and minerals of a multi but with added nutrients such as probiotics, prebiotics, detoxification nutrients and disease-protective antioxidants.”
Green powder supplements claim that a two-teaspoon serve offers up to 81 of the vital ingredients our body needs every day. They also promise to optimise health and vitality, and where once green powders were the domain of health-food stores, they can now be bought in supermarkets and chemists.
Boyce believes these green powders are beneficial supplements whether you have a healthy diet or not, however, they’re best used to “supplement a healthy diet”.
Powders come in varying shades of green and are fairly fine, making them easy to digest, and can be added to water, smoothies, juices or any beverage. The ingredient lists are usually long and impressive and include land vegetables and grains such as wheatgrass, spinach, broccoli and beetroot; aquatic plants and algae like kelp, spirulina and chlorella; probiotics and enzymes such as lactobacillus acidophilus and coenzyme Q10; herb and spice extracts including dandelion, wolfberry and ginger; and vitamins and minerals.
Scientific evidence on green powders is hard to come by, but there have been preliminary studies into ingredients such as chlorella and spirulina.
A 2009 Japanese study suggested chlorella could be effective in fighting major lifestyle diseases; it was found to reduce body-fat percentage and blood-glucose levels and help those suffering from type 2 diabetes, obesity or heart disease. Other research claims that green algae such as spirulina are nutrient powerhouses, packed with twice as much protein as spinach as well as antioxidants and nine essential amino acids.
Nutrition Australia spokeswoman Aloysa Hourigan says the supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients, but may not be necessary for people who have a healthy diet with the recommended five serves of veg a day (the equivalent to 2.5 cups of cooked veg or four to five cups of fresh veg).
“These supplements have a lot of nutrients in them, but they’re not a magic nutrition pill that fills all the gaps in your diet,” Hourigan says.
Boyce agrees that diet is paramount and says the bulk of it should be whole foods and seasonal produce. “Supplements aren’t to replace foods but to enhance our nutrient profile. In an ideal world we’d all eat organic food, drink purified water and breathe clean air. However, this isn’t the case, and that’s why there’s a place for green supplements to be incorporated into a healthy diet.”
How to get the most out of green powder
Choose wisely, Boyce says. “Do your research and use a quality green powder with a range of nutrients,” she adds. “Take the recommended dose and be consistent. Taking a green supplement once in a while won’t provide the optimal health benefits seen in taking it daily.”