Powdered superfoods and supplements make it easy to turn your next smoothie into a nutritional powerhouse. And right now, powdered greens are having a moment. Typically made with a variety of wholesome, natural ingredients like dried vegetables, fruits, herbs, grasses, probiotics, and seaweed, greens powders are perfectly poised to help fill some of the nutritional gaps that exist in the typical American diet. (More than 80 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables!)
Tempted by the trend? Good instinct! Here are six potential benefits of adding a greens powder to your wellness routine.
1. Ups Your Overall Micronutrient Intake
“Supplementing with green superfoods has been shown to provide numerous health benefits, including improving nutrient levels,” says The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Karen Cooney, C.H.H.C., M.A. “The nutrients and plant compounds in greens powders may support overall wellness when used in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle.” Considering so many Americans fall short on at least one micronutrient, getting more of them in via a greens powder is surely a win.
2. Encourages a Healthy Immune System
Many of the micronutrients in powdered greens play a role in promoting a healthy immune system. “Greens powders contain vitamins and minerals that support immunity, such as vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, zinc, and selenium,” says The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Roseanne Schnell, C.D.N. Not to mention, “greens powders often have high levels of antioxidants, which fight free radicals that damage cells (a process known as oxidation),” she adds. So, in addition to helping your body defend itself against run-of-the-mill colds and other bugs we encounter, greens powders can also support long-term health since oxidation contributes to many chronic issues.
Read More: 7 Fall Snacks That Strengthen Immune Health
3. May support Healthy Blood Pressure
A plant-based diet has been shown to help support healthy blood pressure—and powdered fruits and veggies may have a similar effect. In one study, 40 subjects supplemented their diet with a fruit and veggie powder for 90 days. After this trial period, they experienced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure benefits. The likely explanation once again lies with the micronutrients in each serving of powdered greens. “Greens powders can support healthy blood pressure by providing minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which are all associated with blood pressure management,” Schnell explains.
4. May Reduce Bloating
Bloating is a dreaded but all too common GI complaint—and, according to Schnell, greens powders could assist in deflating a distended belly. “Greens powders can help neutralize an acidic gut, which can help reduce gas and bloating,” she explains.
Read More: The Best Natural Ways to Relieve Bloating
Just note that if this benefit is a big selling-point for you, you’ll want to look for an option that uses natural sweeteners, such as monk fruit or stevia, instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which sometimes contribute to bloating. Also, if you’re sensitive to gas-forming vegetables like broccoli, whole grasses, nuts, seeds, and grains, look for a product that’s free of those ingredients.
5. Supports Healthy Digestion
On the topic of GI issues, here’s a not-so-fun fact: A whopping 68 percent of the global population is lactose intolerant. Combine this with the many other possibilities for food sensitivities out there and you’ve got a large crowd that’s dealing with diet-related digestive discomfort on a regular basis.
Interestingly, a greens powder might provide some relief, since many formulas contain digestive enzymes. “Digestive enzymes support the breakdown of food for absorption and utilization of nutrients,” explains Schnell.
Digestive enzymes to look out for on the label include amylase (which breaks down carbs), protease (which breaks down protein), and lipase (which breaks down fat). If you have specific food intolerances, ask your healthcare provider which of these enzymes would be most beneficial for you.
6. Promotes Regularity
All stopped up? You’re not alone. Official estimates suggest that 16 percent of U.S. adults have symptoms of constipation. It’s not surprising, given that our collective intake of fruits, veggies, and overall fiber falls woefully short of recommended targets.
Good news: A greens powder could be one key to getting things moving. One reason? Since most greens powders must be dissolved in some sort of liquid (like water or a smoothie), they essentially force you to take in more fluid, which is a must for regularity.
Plus, in addition to those digestive enzymes, many powders also feature probiotics. “Probiotics help balance and defend the microbiome and support the work of the enzymes,” Schnell explains. (Evidence suggests that certain strains of probiotics could help some populations achieve more regular toilet time.)
Just be mindful that fresh greens contain more fiber than their dehydrated and powdered counterparts, so you can’t rely on even the best greens powder to ensure you meet your fiber needs.
The Bottom Line
Any credentialed nutritionist will encourage you to get as much of your daily nutrition as possible from whole foods. But modern life often gets in the way of curating a menu that meets every nutritional recommendation. In the midst of a busy lifestyle, a greens powder can be a helpful tool for adding nutrients you might not otherwise get, as well as provide other helpful ingredients that do your body good. So, go on and scoop away!