Are Greens Powders As Healthy As You Think?

Greens powders have been around for years, but they've been growing in popularity as more people realize the importance of eating more vegetables and fruits as part of a healthy daily diet. If you don't love the idea of eating vegetables for breakfast, a greens powder mixed with your morning smoothie or just made with water may be a simple way to get most of the benefits of a vegetable-packed meal, though it isn't quite as good as simply eating the real thing. Here's what you need to know about greens powders.

"Most greens powders are a blend of many different greens, herbs, spices, and superfoods, so they're a great way to include ingredients like wheatgrass, beetroot, or kelp — foods you probably wouldn't normally eat on a daily basis," registered dietitian Carolyn Brown told Women's Health. That means they're rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, including some that you may miss if you only eat a few different types of vegetables and fruits. 

However, greens powders aren't quite as good as eating whole vegetables, since they don't have much fiber — and most Americans only get around half of the fiber that's recommended by the American Heart Association (via USCF Health).

What should you look for in a greens powder?

Check the label to see what your greens powder contains — often, the actual nutrition facts may surprise you. Some greens powders contain only a small amount of most of the vitamins and minerals listed and aren't quite as healthy as you might expect. Don't just choose the label that looks the most appealing in the drugstore — do some homework before you buy (via GQ).

Unfortunately, like protein powders, greens powders are supplements, which means they're not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That means some of the more inexpensive options may be packed with added filler ingredients, or contain dyes, sweeteners, or other chemicals. Look for certified organic options, which typically contain fewer fillers and artificial ingredients. 

And remember: No greens powder can take the place of eating a lot of different fruits and vegetables throughout the day. They are a great way to supplement an otherwise healthy diet, and can be an occasional substitute for missing a vegetable with a meal, but they shouldn't be considered as a primary vegetable source.