Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Dietitian Is In! Green Powders

When we meet someone for the first time and share what we do, it often seems to open the gateway to a game of 20 questions. “What do you think about the Paleo diet?” “It’s a good thing to give up gluten, right?” “Is a banana bad for me?” “So, do you always eat healthy?” When we’re asked these kinds of questions, we’re happy to answer them. We feel grateful that people feel comfortable enough to ask. Here's a recent question we were asked...and here's the answer!

Question: Should I be using green powders in my diet every day?

Answer: Green powders, consisting mainly of dried freshwater algae, are heavily marketed as the latest dietary “miracle,” boasting the ability to increase energy, aid in digestion and improve immunity. While it is true that many contain ingredients that are concentrated sources of nutrients, these powders may not be worth the hype. Chlorella and spirulina—common ingredients in green powders—contain high levels of nutrients, such as vitamin K and beta-carotene. And wheatgrass juice, which is dried and also often used as a component, provides a good source of vitamin C and iron. Many green powders boast high levels of chlorophyll, but this plant compound is not considered an essential nutrient and there is little science confirming known benefits. Green powders fall under the regulation of dietary supplements, and the Food and Drug Administration is not responsible for making sure they are safe before they go to market. A recent analysis by ConsumerLab.com, an organization that conducts independent analyses of supplements, found three of the 10 green powder supplements tested to be contaminated with lead and/or cadmium. You might be better off skipping expensive green powders and eating real green foods instead—spinach, kale, and broccoli—for a bounty of nutrients with documented health benefits.

This Q &A was written by McKenzie for the "Ask the Expert" section in the January 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition.


  1. I believe in eating natural green when possible. But I like having green powder on hand, there are times when I do not have the greens in the house to eat, and no money to buy them, being on low income. If I have cramps, setting in to my legs, a quick, green drink, seems to ward them off. Bee