Green powders: Are they worth it?

14 Feb 2024

Green powders claim to be a ‘one-scoop’ solution to health. There are a ton of brands out there with varying prices and a long list of health claims – from immunity boosts to gut health, weight loss, improved focus and memory. However, the research continues on their long-term health effects.

What are green powders?

They are supplements made from blends of dehydrated or dried fruits, vegetables and plant extracts. They’re widely popular due to their long shelf life, convenience, and effective marketing through aesthetically pleasing campaigns and influencer endorsements.

Do they live up to their claims?

The Science Behind Green Powders

Drying foods is among the oldest and most vital food preservation methods, suggesting a role in nutrient intake and health, especially when whole foods aren’t readily available. Small studies found potential benefits, including:

  • Improved nutrient levels: Consumption of fruit and vegetable powders increased people’s levels of certain vitamins and beneficial plant compounds like carotenoids.
  • Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress: Fruit and vegetable juice powder supplements reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in a few small trials. (Esfahani et al. 2011)
  • Improved gut microbiota composition: In a 2018 trial, healthy adults consumed 30 g/day of freeze-dried whole cranberry powder or a placebo for 5 days. Cranberry powder consumption decreased the abundance of Firmicutes, while increasing the abundance of Bacteroidetes. (Rodríguez-Morató et al. 2018)

5 key issues

On paper, green powders sound promising. But the reality of the products we buy is less certain.

  1. Quality research is lacking. Studies are often funded by product manufacturers and are limited in scope and duration, leaving doubts about long-term effectiveness.
  2. The best methods are still unclear. Different techniques can be used during production which affects the nutritional content of the product you buy – such as chopping vs grinding, drying methods and drying times – with no consensus on optimal techniques. Freeze-drying is generally considered optimal but it also requires a very long drying time, a lot of energy consumption and is one of the most expensive drying methods.
  3. Lack of transparency. Brands don’t always disclose the full list of ingredients or specific amounts of ingredients because companies often have proprietary formulas that no one has access to. So it can be difficult to know whether you’re consuming an effective dose of a given ingredient. There is also huge variability in the formulations, doses, drying methods and ingredient lists.
  4. A mix-match of ingredients: Greens powders generally contain 25–40 or more different ingredients, which vary by brand. So all we can do is look at the individual components in the supplements to get an idea of their benefits. Manufacturers also add extra ingredients in addition to vegetables, like sweeteners, caffeine or isolated nutrients.
  5. Cost vs. Value: These powders are generally expensive for what they are. They benefit from outstanding marketing campaigns, which makes them attractive and trendy, but it’s hard to justify their cost.

Whole foods first

Before you think about green supplements, focus on getting more whole fruits and vegetables into your meals. Green powders could increase certain nutrients, but the most robust way to achieve nutritional balance and avoid excesses of any one nutrient is by eating a diversity of whole fruits and vegetables.

Buying green powders: 3 qualities to look for

Despite the uncertainties, green powders could be useful for certain people or in certain contexts like when you’re travelling. If you choose to buy them, here are some qualities to look for:

  1. A detailed ingredient list with specific amounts for each ingredient. Avoid proprietary blends that do not disclose detailed info about their ingredients.
  2. No extra ingredients, like added sugar, natural sugar substitutes and caffeine.
  3. Transparency about the drying method


Nutrient content: Dilrukshi et al. Int J Food Sci. 2021

Bioavailability:Dams et al. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2021 |Esfahani et al. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2011

Effects on health markers:Esfahani et al. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2011 |Lamprecht et al. Br J Nutr. 2013 |Novembrino et al. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2011 |Arcusa et al. Molecules. 2021 |van der Merwe et al. Microorganisms. 2021 | Zhang et al. J Chiropr Med. 2009

Boon et al. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2004



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