Greens Supplements – A Replacement for Fruit and Vegetables?

Greens Supplements – A Replacement for Fruit and Vegetables?

If you look in the health food supplement aisle at your local supermarket, you’ll probably notice the shelves are packed with products, including greens powders that claim to provide several full servings of fruits and vegetables. 

5 Potential Benefits of Greens Supplements

  1. Boosts Nutrient Intake
  2. Increases Your Energy
  3. Alkalizes the Body
  4. Removes Toxins
  5. Fast and Convenient

While these greens supplements do provide a lot of nutrients, they can’t act as a replacement for eating actual fruits and vegetables. 

Greens Supplements Ingredients

It’s no secret that most people don’t consume enough vegetables, which is why greens powders come in handy. Greens powders are nutritional supplements designed to help meet the daily requirement of nutrients that are often lacking in a standard Western diet. 

Essentially, these powders are produced from freeze-dried nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits that are ground and combined into one supplement product. Generally speaking, greens powders can contain anywhere from 20 to 40 ingredients, some of which include:

  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, broccoli
  • Sea vegetables: dulse, spirulina, chlorella 
  • Grasses: Barley, alfalfa, wheatgrass 
  • Antioxidants: acerola fruit, 
  • Extracts: ginkgo biloba, green tea leaf, bilberry, grape 
  • Probiotics: lactobacillus strains 
  • Enzymes
  • Herbs: milk thistle, Siberian ginseng, slippery elm, artichoke, dandelion
  • Adaptogens: ashwagandha, rhodiola
  • Mushrooms
  • Natural sweeteners: stevia 
  • Fiber: inulin 

More recently, companies have started using sprouted or fermented ingredients to increase nutrient values and increase the bioavailability of certain minerals like zinc and iron

Why Greens are Important

For most people, their protein and carbohydrate intake is significantly higher than their fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. This leaves people at risk of nutrient deficiencies and increases the acidity of the body and leaves people at risk of developing chronic illnesses. 

Adding a greens supplement to your diet can be highly beneficial for several reasons:

Increases Energy: Some of the compounds found in greens powders, such as green tea extract, contain small amounts of caffeine that are said to help increase energy. 

Green tea also has thermogenic properties that help promote fat oxidation and may play a role in regulating body composition. A study of 63 healthy women who took a greens supplement daily reported increases in energy and alertness compared to a placebo group that took no greens supplements.

Alkalizes the Body: An acidic environment is a breeding ground for illness and disease. Food is one of the primary factors that influence the pH levels in the body. Ensuring an adequate intake of alkalinized foods is key to reducing the risk of disease development. 

The vast majority of ingredients found in greens powders help to increase pH levels in the body, thereby increasing the body’s alkalinity and decreasing the ability for certain diseases to thrive.

Removes Toxins: Our body is exposed to an abundance of toxins and chemicals every day. Algae’s like chlorella is known for its ability to bind and remove toxins from the body. 

As such, regular intake of greens supplements can reduce the risks associated with toxin accumulation, including brain damage, nervous system damage, organ damage, and developmental issues. 

Boosts Nutrient Intake: As greens powders contain an abundance of nutrient-dense foods, adding a scoop every day to your diet can reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies. 

Safety and Side Effects

If a greens supplements brand is certified through a third-party lab such as NSF or Informed-Choice, the product is likely safe. Labels such as these are an assurance that the company complies with strict procedures when developing and producing their products. 

Regular inspections guarantee consistency to provide the consumer with the best product possible. When looking at a greens supplements ingredient list, you should know the purpose of each ingredient.

The only ingredients listed on a greens powder should be from recognizable plant sources, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. 

Some brands add natural sweeteners to take away the grassy taste, but this should be an all-natural sweetener like stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol. If you aren’t sure what several of the ingredients are, find yourself a more pure product. However, it’s important to remember that with specific vitamins, especially the water-soluble ones, excess intake will be flushed out of your body. 

But with non-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K, too much consumption can cause toxicity because the body does not excrete these vitamins. Research shows that excess Vitamin A can lead to issues like liver damage, decreased bone mineral density, and congenital disabilities.

When it comes to supplements, people often think: more is better (which isn’t necessarily true). 

While the serving size of greens supplements are generally pretty small—one scoop (or one tablespoon)—each serving is enough to hit your daily recommended intake. 

Effectiveness of Greens Supplements

Unfortunately, you can’t out-supplement a poor diet, so if you aren’t a fan of vegetables and you’re looking to replace your daily intake with a greens supplement powder, you’re out of luck. 

However, if you consume an adequate amount of fresh foods and want to bump up your nutrient intake, an organic greens supplement is a great way to add additional phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. Greens powders are also a great option if you’re constantly on-the-go and don’t always have access to fresh foods.