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Super Greens: Are greens supplements healthy?

Super Greens: Sind Greens Supplements gesund?

It's no secret that most people don't eat enough vegetables. Greens supplements are dietary supplements designed to help you reach your recommended daily vegetable intake.

The advertising for these products claims that greens supplements can support your immune system, your energy levels, your body's detoxification and much more. But you may wonder if the science supports these purported benefits.

This article will tell you if greens supplements are really healthy.

What are greens supplements?

Greens supplements are food supplements in powder form that can be mixed with water or other liquids. These supplements are green in color and may taste somewhat like grass. Natural sugar substitutes are often added to these products to improve the taste. There are also products in capsule form, but these contain significantly fewer active ingredients per serving.

Greens supplements generally contain 25 to 40 or more different ingredients, which vary from brand to brand. These ingredients usually include the following (1, 2):

  • Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, tree kale, parsley
  • Seaweed and algae: Spirulina, chlorella, red algae, kelp
  • Other vegetables: broccoli, turnips, carrots, tomatoes, kale
  • Grasses: barley grass, wheat grass, oat grass, alfalfa
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits: blueberries, raspberries, goji and acai berries
  • Nutrient extracts: Green tea extract, grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba extract
  • Probiotics: Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Plant digestive enzymes: amylase, cellulase, lipase, papain, protease
  • Herbs: basil, astragalus, echinacea, milk thistle
  • Mushrooms: maitake mushroom extract, shiitake mushroom extract
  • Natural sugar substitutes: stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract
  • Additional dietary fiber: rice bran, inulin, apple fiber

The ingredients contained in these products are generally dried and then ground into powder. Alternatively, some ingredients can also be squeezed out first and then dehydrated. In some cases, certain compounds found in whole foods can also be extracted.

A more recent trend is to germinate or ferment the ingredients, which increases the vitamin content and helps break down or degrade certain components that can interfere with mineral absorption (3, 4, 5).

The formulas are often vegan, non-GMO and organic. However, it is important to check the label for these details. Prices for greens supplements range from 20 to 100 cents or more per scoop (about 10 grams or 2 tablespoons), depending on the specific ingredients.

Summary: Although the composition of greens supplements can vary from brand to brand, they are generally made from dried leafy green vegetables, seaweed, algae, grasses and antioxidant-rich fruits and herbs. Probiotics and digestive enzymes are also often added.

Nutritional values vary based on the ingredients

As the ingredients of greens supplements vary from brand to brand, the nutritional values also vary between different products. An average scoop (10 grams or two tablespoons) contains (6):

  • Kcal: 40
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Sodium: 2% of the recommended daily intake
  • Vitamin A (as beta-carotene): 80% of the recommended daily intake
  • Vitamin C: 80% of the recommended daily intake
  • Vitamin K: 60% of the recommended daily intake
  • Calcium: 5% of the recommended daily intake
  • Iron: 20% of the recommended daily intake
  • Iodine: 100% of the recommended daily intake
  • Selenium: 70% of the recommended daily intake
  • Chromium: 60% of the recommended daily intake
  • Potassium: 5% of the recommended daily intake

The products are generally low in calories, but mixing them with anything other than water can add extra calories. Greens supplements do not always list vitamin and mineral content on the label. These products are also generally not as complete and balanced in terms of vitamin and mineral content as regular multivitamin and mineral supplements.

In some cases, Greens products are also formulated as meal replacements, which makes the product more nutritionally complete and higher in calories.

Although not quantified on the label, greens supplements are generally rich in polyphenols and other plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions (1).

Summary: Greens supplements are generally low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals including selenium, iodine, chromium, vitamins A, C and K, as well as plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.

A supplement worth considering for use

The nutrients and plant components contained in greens supplements can support overall well-being when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle. For example, greens supplements are typically rich in vitamins A and C, which help support immune system function (7, 8).

Additionally, probiotics added to greens supplements can support immune function and digestive health. However, the value of added plant-based digestive enzymes is still unclear (9, 10, 11).

Greens supplements have been studied in a few small studies, but results can vary from brand to brand and between different supplement formulas. In addition, these studies were typically funded by supplement manufacturers, which increases the risk of bias. For this reason, such studies should be viewed with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Greens products could help prevent chronic disease

The actions of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant compounds contained in greens supplements may help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

In a four-week study of 10 healthy adults, two tablespoons (10 grams) of a greens supplement taken daily reduced blood levels of oxidatively damaged proteins by 30% (1). Preventing damage to blood proteins such as enzymes is important because they perform functions that can help protect you from cancer and chronic diseases (12).

In another 90-day study involving 40 subjects with high blood pressure, a daily intake of 2 tablespoons (10 grams) of a greens supplement reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by around 8%. No changes were observed in the control group (13).

However, further research is needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Greens supplements could boost your energy

The manufacturers of some greens supplements claim that their products can increase energy. At the same time, these products are generally quite low in calories and therefore do not necessarily provide a lot of energy.

However, some of these products contain compounds that could help you feel more alert and energized. These include green tea extract, which contains caffeine and plant compounds that promote increased calorie burning (14).

In a three-month study of 63 healthy women, subjects who took one tablespoon (10 grams) of a greens supplement containing green tea extract reported a significant increase in energy, while members of the placebo group reported no change (15).

However, this is only one study that has yet to be replicated. It is also unclear whether a greens supplement without green tea extract would provide the same benefits.

Other benefits

Some manufacturers of greens supplements claim that their products can help with detoxification and make your body more alkaline, the latter meaning a higher pH on a scale of 0 to 14.

However, consuming Greens products will not affect your blood pH, as your body controls it very closely and always keeps it in a range of 7.35 to 7.45 (16).

However, the pH value of urine can fluctuate within a wider range of 4.5 to 8. Eating greens supplements and other vegetables can slightly increase the pH of urine and make it more alkaline (2, 16, 17).

Some scientists speculate that small increases in urine pH may help your body get rid of toxins such as pesticides and environmental toxins. However, this has not been well studied in human trials (16, 18, 19, 20).

However, consuming greens supplements could support detoxification of the body in other ways. For example, when your liver breaks down certain toxic compounds, free radicals are produced. Greens supplements are rich in antioxidants, which can help fight these free radicals (21, 22, 23).

Summary: Greens supplements may improve overall well-being, support immune system function and help reduce the risk of chronic disease. However, further research is needed to confirm other potential benefits such as increased energy and detoxification of the body.

Greens supplements are not a substitute for vegetables

Eating a wide variety of whole vegetables and other foods as part of a balanced diet is the best way to achieve nutrient balance and prevent too high or too low levels of any one nutrient (24).

In their whole-food form, vegetables give you the satisfaction of chewing and are also rich in water. Both of these aspects promote satiety and can prevent overeating. In this respect, greens supplements are less satisfying (25, 26). In addition, greens supplements are low in fiber and typically provide only 1 to 2 grams per serving, although additional fiber is sometimes added (27).

At this point, it should be noted that greens supplements are generally quite high in vitamin K. This vitamin can interact with certain medications including blood thinners. For this reason, it may interfere with drug treatment (28).

Greens supplements may also contain harmful contaminants such as lead and other heavy metals. A laboratory study found contamination in 4 out of 13 greens supplements tested. For this reason, it makes sense to look for products that are proven to be free of contaminants.

Last but not least, the manufacturers of some greens supplements state that children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people taking medication should not use these products, as they often contain plant compounds and concentrated extracts that may pose a potential risk to these groups of people. It is therefore best to discuss the use of greens supplements with your doctor in advance, just as with all other supplements.

Summary: Whole foods are still best for satisfying hunger, ensuring a balanced nutrient intake and protecting against potentially harmful contaminants.

How should you use greens supplements?

For best results, it is advisable to follow the manufacturer's recommended intake. It is most common to mix the powder into water, juice, milk or smoothies. For safety reasons, all greens supplements mixed with liquid should be stored in the refrigerator if they are not consumed immediately.

If you don't want to drink your Greens Supplement, you have the following options:

  • Add it to scrambled eggs or omelettes
  • Sprinkle it over roasted vegetables
  • Mix it with homemade salad dressing
  • Stir it into vegetable dips
  • Add it to soups

Heating greens supplements can destroy some of the nutrients they contain, including vitamin C and probiotics.

If your vegetable consumption tends to drop when you are traveling, you may consider taking a greens supplement with you to help you maintain adequate nutrient intake.

Summary: The most common way to use greens supplements is to mix them into water, juice or other drinks. You can also add them to food.


Greens supplements are products that consist of vegetables, seaweed, algae, probiotics, digestive enzymes and much more. These products can improve immune system function and reduce the risk of chronic disease, although results may vary based on the ingredients.

Studies on these products are limited, and while greens products are nutritious, they should not be used as a substitute for whole foods. You should continue to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and a wide variety of healthy foods.



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