Are Greens Powders a Total Waste of Money? |

Are Greens Powders a Total Waste of Money?

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that greens powders have been gaining popularity over the past few years. After all, they’re all over TikTok and Instagram, and plant-based products, in general, are more popular than ever before — and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, according to a market research report, sales of green powders are expected to rise from $279.32 million in 2023 to $447.04 million by 2030.

But just because something is plant-based and regularly crowding store shelves doesn’t mean you should necessarily buy it. And in the case of greens powders, there may be more to unpack than you may realize so you can make a decision that’s right for you. Here, with the help of seasoned nutrition pros, we dig into the pros and cons of greens powders and answer the question on everyone’s mind: Are greens powders a waste of money, or can they actually improve your health?

The 9 Best Greens Powders of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

What Are Greens Powders — and Why Are They So Popular?

Greens powders are a type of powdered dietary supplement made by combining dried or blended plants or plant extracts. A few of the more common ingredients found in greens powders include spirulina, wheatgrass, kelp, and green tea extracts. But what makes these greens powders so appealing? 

“Superfoods often translate into super sales that have created a billion-dollar industry,” says Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and author of From Burnout to Balance. “Many consumers see food as medicine, and they are willing to pay more for foods touted to prevent certain health problems.”

Because many greens powders are made with plant-based foods like fruit and vegetables, consumers already perceive them as health-promoting. What’s more, folks are drawn to greens powders due to the “desire for a quick-fix approach” to help fill potential nutrient gaps and to enhance overall health quickly and easily, says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, the owner of Ginger Hultin Nutrition and author of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan.

The 9 Best Greens Powders of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

Nutritional Value of Greens Powders

Although the composition of greens powders varies between brands, typically, nutrients come from leafy greens, seaweed, grasses, and other vegetables. They may also contain antioxidant-rich fruit, probiotics, nutritional extracts, and herbs. 

The overall nutritional value varies widely between brands depending on which ingredients they use in their products. However, many greens powders are rich in potassium, as well as vitamins C and K.

While vitamin K helps blood clot correctly and is needed for proper wound healing, potassium helps with water balance and muscle contractions, Hultin says. Additionally, many Americans don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, so the Vitamin C in greens powders could help support healthy skin and a healthy immune system, Hultin adds.

Here’s What to Know About Powdered Greens

When Greens Powders May Be Beneficial

Greens powders may be right for some people in certain situations, especially if they have nutritional deficiencies. And while greens powders shouldn’t replace fruits and vegetables, Hultin says they can help supplement a person’s diet with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — especially if they are struggling to get the recommended amount.

Additionally, if access to fresh produce is limited, like when camping, hiking, or traveling, a greens powder can be a smart solution. But canned and dried fruits and vegetables are also a good option in these situations. Talk with a healthcare provider to determine if greens powders are right for you.

Potential Downsides of Greens Powders

Despite the potential nutritional value of greens powders, there are also several downsides to consider when deciding if one is right for you. Here are some potential cons to using greens powders.

Potential vitamin loss

When it comes to processing foods into powders, vitamins tend to be lost in the process due to factors like heat and oxidation. According to a report released by, most greens powder supplements provide only a small fraction of the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.

Results showed that most greens powders typically contain between 2 to 10 grams of powdered fruits and vegetables. This is significantly below what is recommended, considering most adults should consume around 500 grams of fresh fruits and vegetables, or 50 grams of dried fruits and vegetables per day.

Are not regulated by the FDA

Further, Bannan says safety is a concern as well. “As with all supplements, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated these greens powders for safety or efficacy…so you can’t always be sure what is listed on the label is what’s actually in the package, or that you’ll get the desired health benefits.”

May contain heavy metals

Some greens powders could also contain potentially harmful compounds like heavy metals or other contaminants Hultin says. Regularly consuming high amounts of heavy metals can potentially lead to organ failure and other health issues.

For this reason, you should make sure any greens powder you use has been third-party tested for quality. This will help you ensure that the ingredients listed on the label are actually in the powder in the amounts listed. 

May cause side effects

Some folks may also experience gastrointestinal issues using greens powders, says Hultin. “While most of the food ingredients in greens powders are likely safe, some people with digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bowel diseases, or FODMAP sensitivities could experience gastrointestinal side effects like gas, bloating, or even diarrhea with high-fiber greens powders.”

For example, chlorella (a type of algae in many greens powders) may cause gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea or constipation. In addition, some ingredients like spirulina and green tea extract have been associated with allergic reactions.

Contain large ingredient lists

Another issue with greens powders are the high number of ingredients. Most brands combine between about 10 to 50 ingredients; yet many do not have any research indicating how all these ingredients interact synergistically.

Extracts and herbs, specifically, are particularly potent in greens powders, and these higher concentrations can have negative side effects. They also could interact with certain medications or specific health conditions as well. 

For example, green tea can interact with statins used to lower cholesterol. In addition, green tea leaves can increase the effect of blood-thinning medication.

Further, vitamin K, which is found in many greens powders, can interact with blood-thinning medications, and is also a concern for someone who is undergoing surgery. Potassium is also a major concern for folks with certain forms of kidney disease that have strict restrictions on the amount of potassium they can consume.

Can be expensive 

Hultin also believes greens powders can be pricey. “The cost for 5 grams of greens powders can range from below $0.25 to nearly $20. [Keep in mind that 5 grams] is equivalent to one-half cup of fresh produce, which will cost significantly less than most of the concentrated greens powders out there.”

For that reason, Hultin advises her clients to choose whole fruits and veggies, including fresh, frozen, or canned, over purchasing greens powders. Also, the taste of greens powders can be grassy and unappetizing — though their palatability could be increased by blending them in smoothies.

How to Make Greens Powders Taste Better, According to a Dietitian

Bottom Line

Greens powders are touted as having many health benefits. However, Bannan says it’s important to consider that the advertised health benefits have not been proven. Given that greens powders don’t always contain the amount of produce you need each day — you may want to save your money and purchase whole foods that are easy to prepare.

If you do choose to use greens powder to supplement your diet, talk to a healthcare provider first. They can help you determine if your current medications and supplements will interact with greens powders, as well as advise you on the risks and benefits, considering your existing health conditions. Remember, you can overdo it on some nutrients or experience unwanted side effects, so you need to make sure you do your research first.

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