Nowadays, every supplement store seems to carry a wide range of greens powders and greens supplements. Are they really better than a multivitamin? What’s the best greens powder, anyway?
We wanted to know, too. And after testing dozens and dozens of the best-selling green superfood brands — as well as the underdogs that maybe don’t sell as well as they should — we think we’ve figured out which of them are worth your money and which are about as effective as drinking soil.
When greens supplements burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, the marketing made it look like we were witnessing the next stage in the evolution of multivitamins. They’re not just sources of vitamins and minerals; they often contain antioxidants, probiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, and naturally-derived compounds that are linked to everything from better-functioning livers to improved mental clarity.
But the biggest selling point is that benefits like these come from naturally-occurring foods. Usually, there are no isolated vitamins that have been injected into the supplement — the nutrition comes entirely from whole foods that are taken straight from the ground, sea, or tree.
We looked for the best greens powders in different categories, then provided a descriptive analyses behind why we chose each included in the lists below.
Best Green Superfood Picks for 2019
Remarkably tasty and extraordinarily nutritious, this greens powder has a better combination of vitamins, probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, adaptogens, and flavor than any of the competition. This greens supplement comes with heaping servings of vegetables and fruits, along with a whopping 25 billion probiotic bacteria per serving. Packed with vitamins and probiotics, this greens powder is flavored with papaya, pineapple, and a hint of ginger. Extraordinarily nutritious greens powder with well quantified health benefits. Also one of the best-tasting greens powders on the market.
Remarkably tasty and extraordinarily nutritious, this greens powder has a better combination of vitamins, probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, adaptogens, and flavor than any of the competition.
This greens supplement comes with heaping servings of vegetables and fruits, along with a whopping 25 billion probiotic bacteria per serving.
Packed with vitamins and probiotics, this greens powder is flavored with papaya, pineapple, and a hint of ginger.
Extraordinarily nutritious greens powder with well quantified health benefits. Also one of the best-tasting greens powders on the market.
Read further below for even more categories and more picks!
More detailed breakdowns of our top choices per category are below in this article. At the bottom of this article, we include an infographic and more information on common greens powder ingredients and questions.
What Are the Benefits of Greens Powders?
In most cases, the base of a greens powder is made from a combination of grasses (like wheatgrass and barley grass) and algae (like spirulina and chlorella). The rest of the ingredients could be comprised of vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, roots, herbs, leaves, stems, fiber, probiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, royal jelly, and anything in between.
We’ve had vitamin supplements for a long time, but greens powders are newer to the market — an attempt to harvest the benefits of whole food ingredients that can sometimes be excluded from a daily multi. Plants, after all, don’t just contain the isolated vitamins and minerals you might get in other supplements. They’re also a source of fiber, chlorophyll, and phytonutrients like indole-3-carbinol (may help with estrogen balance), isothiocyanates (may decrease inflammation) and, and glucosinolates (may lower risk of heart disease). There’s a lot going on in plants besides the vitamins and minerals — by using real, whole food ingredients and turning ’em into a daily tablespoon, green superfood powders want you to get more from your supplements.
A potential issue is that as a relatively new kind of supplement, there aren’t a ton of studies that have been performed on their potential benefits, though a couple of small studies published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine did find that green superfood products caused study participants to experience a significant reduction in hypertensive symptoms, like better blood pressure.(1)(2)
Sometimes, these ingredients result in a tremendous amount of nutrition that vastly exceeds what’s offered in a multivitamin, and some greens powders can substitute for antioxidant supplements, digestive health supplements, adaptogen supplements, and natural herb supplements like rhodiola rosea or milk thistle.
But sometimes, the value of a greens powder isn’t worth the tub it’s packaged into.
How We Decided the Best
So how does one measure the effectiveness of a greens powder and rank them into a list like ours? With a lot of homework.
We know that many feel the point of greens powders is that they offer more than a multivitamin. However given the fact that so many of them make claims like “equal to 4 servings of vegetables” and “a great source of vitamins and minerals,” we feel it’s important to gauge a product’s vitamins and minerals. It’s a surprisingly difficult task, as many of these products will state they’re full of everything the body needs while leaving most vitamins and minerals off of the nutrition label.
Perhaps the most common claim made about green superfood powders is how jam packed they are with antioxidants. There’s no line for ‘antioxidant strength’ on a nutrition label, however there are some methods of actually measuring a product’s antioxidants, like the ORAC score, which lets you measure the antioxidant content against, say, a cup of blueberries. Very few products do this, so we don’t mark them down too heavily if they don’t include their score, but it’s a big bonus when they do.
Adaptogens and Herbs
A lot of the most exciting research in nutrition is into adaptogens, compounds that may alter the way the body responds to stress. A couple of examples often seen in greens powders are rhodiola rosea, which may improve focus and exercise performance, and reishi mushrooms, which have been linked to everything from subjective wellbeing to better immunity.(4)(5) Supplementing with adaptogens is becoming increasingly common for the holistic athlete and they often form part of a greens powder recipe.
Probiotics and Enzymes
A ton of evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy population of gut bacteria — the trillions of little critters that live in your digestive tract and help you break down food — can improve more than just your gut health. A healthy and diverse number of probiotic bacteria may improve inflammation, boost immunity, and maybe even exert a positive effect on mood. Digestive enzymes and prebiotic fiber are also tied to a healthier gut and often find their way into greens powders as well.
Do Greens Powders Detoxify My Body?
No. The liver is what removes toxins from your body, and neither cleanses nor juices nor eating extra vegetables will detoxify your body.
However, some greens powders contain ingredients that support the body’s natural detoxification processes. The most notable and common example is milk thistle, a flowering herb that has been linked to liver health.(3) (It’s sometimes used to help treat hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.) Most greens powders contain milk thistle to support using the word “detox” on their label.
Can a Greens Supplement Boost My Immunity?
Many greens powders do contain ingredients that are linked to a healthier immune system. In particular, most are a source of antioxidants, which protect the body’s cells from free radicals, harmful molecules that may contribute to the risk of cancer. Therefore, it can be argued that antioxidants may reduce your risk of disease.
The same can be said of many nutrients that are often found in greens powders, like Vitamins A, C, E, B-6, zinc, selenium, iron, and copper. Any supplement that contains any amounts of any of these micronutrients could be said to potentially improve immunity.
What Is the Best Greens Powder Overall?
For several reasons, Athletic Greens came out on top as the best all-round greens powder.
There are a lot of top contenders for greens powders that provide a hefty amount of vitamins, minerals, digestive benefits, and antioxidants, and quantify their claims. (That’s the hardest part — most products don’t back up the claims they make.)
As a special offer, get 20 free travel packs of Athletic Greens at this link:
Extraordinarily nutritious greens powder with quantified health benefits. Also one of the best-tasting greens powders on the market. Get 20 free travel packs with your order!
Extraordinarily nutritious greens powder with quantified health benefits. Also one of the best-tasting greens powders on the market. Get 20 free travel packs with your order!MoreLess
Note: We have some new top picks have changed for 2018 (since this video was filmed)! Keep reading below to find out our most up-to-date favorites.
Athletic Greens provides 700 percent of your daily Vitamin C, 100 percent or more of most B-vitamins (including B12), K2 and zinc. It has at least twenty percent of your RDI of selenium, manganese, and chromium. It also has the antioxidants of twelve servings of vegetables, 7.2 billion probiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, adaptogens, and even ingredients linked to mental health, like rhodiola rosea and ashwagandha.
As you can see, it has a lot of well-quantified health benefits, and it also tastes amazing. The only downside is that at $4.23 per serving, it’s pretty expensive. It’s cheaper if you sign up for a monthly subscription, which bumps it down to $3.23 per serving.
Shakeology is also an extraordinarily nutritious product that, with 17 grams per serving, doubles as a protein shake. Not only does it have probiotics, digestive enzymes, and at least 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamins A, B-12, C, D, E, K, and 30 percent of your daily calcium and iron, it has clinically effective doses of adaptogens like rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, and various mushrooms.
Green Vibrance is also very well-rounded, with very high amounts of Vitamins A, C, D, E, selenium, and chromium. It has more probiotic bacteria (25 billion) than anything else we’ve seen on the market, the labeling is very transparent (it tells you how many of each ingredient is found in a serving), and it contains plenty of roots and herbs that are linked to cognitive and immune benefits — and you visit their website, they’ll tell you all about the studies that convinced them to include them. It’s also about a quarter of the price of Athletic Greens and Shakeology, but it does have a pretty grassy, peppery taste.
The Best Greens Powder for Antioxidants
ORAC-Energy Greens is our favorite green superfood powder for antioxidants.
Many greens powders contain ingredients high in antioxidants but they don’t actually measure their potency in this regard. ORAC-Energy Greens is one of the few that use the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which is a means for measuring the potency of a product’s antioxidant content.
ORAC-Energy Greens has a score of 40,000 ORAC per serving — about ten times what you find in a hundred gams of blueberries. Plus it contains a 42 ingredients that include wheat grass, alfalfa grass, a blend of seaweeds, a variety of adaptogens, and a solid 1.2 billion probiotic bacteria. Two more bonuses: it has a very mild taste and it just costs a dollar per serving.
Living Fuel Supergreens came second for antioxidants, with some caveats. With an ORAC rating of 82,800 per serving it might sound better for antioxidants, but one scoop is enormous: half a cup. On a per tablespoon and per dollar basis ORAC-Energy Greens has it beat, but it’s still a remarkable product that also delivers 8000 percent the RDI of Vitamin B12, 860 percent of your Vitamin C, and 45 percent of your daily calcium and iron. However at $5.66 per serving, it’s also extremely expensive.
CytoGreens for Athletes is third for antioxidants with 4,470 ORAC per serving. That’s significantly less than the top two contenders, but the ORAC scale is the only real way to quantify a product’s antioxidant content, and most products simply don’t do this. CytoGreens is also a great source of chlorophyll, adaptogens, and digestive enzymes.
The Best Greens Powder for Digestive Health
We thought Green Vibrance was the winner for digestive health.
It contains 25 billion probiotic bacteria and they’re from twelve different strains, which means they provide a wider variety of benefits and a more diverse gut microbiome. That’s ten times more probiotics than most of their competitors, and it also has six kinds of digestive enzymes. It’s also very nutritious, with 250 percent of the RDI of Vitamin D3, 80 percent of your Vitamin C, 70 percent of your selenium, 60 percent of your vitamin K, and 40 percent of your Vitamin B12. It doesn’t taste great — kinda grassy — but at $1.08 per serving, it’s worth it. Learn more about Green Vibrance here.
MacroLife Naturals’ Macro Greens comes in second with 18 billion probiotics per serving from five strains, plus four kinds of digestive enzymes.
LivingFuel SuperGreens is third, with 7.5 billion probiotics per serving from three strains and seven kinds of digestive enzymes, too.
The Best Greens Powder for Athletes
Made by Beach Body, Shakeology doubles nicely as a protein shake and a greens powder.
One scoop has 17 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 100 percent or more of your daily Vitamins A, C, B-6, B-12, and manganese. It also has enormous amounts of Vitamins D, E, K, folic acid, calcium, and iron. In addition, it contains adaptogens, which are said to improve exercise recovery.
The downside is that at $4.33 per serving, it’s very expensive. Shakeology also upsells their product with “Boosts” like Digestive Health and Power Greens. These aren’t worth the money; they increase the serving cost to $7.08 and they add ingredients that are already in Shakeology, like probiotics and greens. Just stick with the regular Shakeology, it’s more than enough. Learn more about Shakeology here.
Living Fuel Supergreens is a great alternative that’s also vegan (unlike Shakeology, which contains whey). It has more protein, calcium, iron, and Vitamins A, C, E, and B-12 than Shakeology. However, it’s even more expensive and it doesn’t taste as good.
Novaforme’s CytoGreens for Athletes is, as the name suggests, targeted specifically at athletes. This is a more traditional greens powder that doesn’t provide a lot of protein per serving, but it’s a little cheaper (around $2 per serving) and contains a lot of antioxidants, probiotics, and chlorophyll. It also claims that it’s been shown in clinical trials to help reduce muscle soreness and increase stamina in athletes, but we couldn’t find the actual studies.
The Best-Tasting Greens Powder
We thought Athletic Greens tasted the best, creamy and tropical with a hint of ginger.
Extraordinarily nutritious greens powder with quantified health benefits. Also one of the best-tasting greens powders on the market. Get 20 free travel packs with your order!
All Day Energy Greens has a mixed berry taste with undertones of grape and carrot, and it was the best-tasting we tried. It’s also a very effective product in and of itself, full of Vitamins A, C, D, K, folic acid, and B12, plus it’s very cheap.
Greens First has a pretty terrific spearmint taste if you don’t like the taste of berries or creamy, tropical things.
Still Looking for the Best Greens Supplement for You?
We understand not all athletes and exercisers will find brands that perfectly fit their needs from our picks from above. So we’ve gone into even more detail for our favorites in some other common and popular categories below. Which green superfood supplement is right for things like weight loss and total value?
The Cheapest Greens Powder (That Also Works)
Overall, we think MacroLife’s Macro Greens Superfood has the most bang for your buck.
It costs just 72 cents per serving, one of which delivers a huge 18 billion probiotics from five different strains, four kinds of digestive enzymes, 720 percent of your daily Vitamin C, 330 percent of your Vitamin E, 50 percent of your B12, and 8 percent of your iron. Given its ingredients list, which includes an antioxidant blend and various seaweeds and grasses, it’s probably high in antioxidants too, though it’s not quantified. It also contains a lot of adaptogenic herbs and it tastes great. Learn more about Macro Life here.
Sun Warrior’s Ormus Super Greens is 55 cents a serving, provides 2 billion probiotics from seven strains, is completely organic, and it contains plenty of the wheat grass, oat grass, and barley grass that most people want in a greens powder. However it doesn’t taste great, and isn’t particularly high in vitamins and minerals.
Amazing Grass is the absolute cheapest greens powder we found, at 52 cents per serving. It didn’t taste terrible and it was a decent source of Vitamins A (25 percent of your RDI), C (57 percent), K, (88 percent) and iron (8 percent), plus it contained digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics for digestive health. The downside was it didn’t quantify its probiotic content or its antioxidant content.
The Best Greens Powder for Weight Loss
Disclaimer: Please note that none of these products describe themselves as weight loss supplements and should not be taken as such. Please consult with a medical professional before beginning any weight loss protocol.
Athletic Greens was our favorite greens powder for weight loss, and here’s why.
Firstly, greens powders aren’t weight loss supplements and shouldn’t be used as such, but many do have ingredients that have been linked to weight loss. The most promising ingredients that are typically used in greens powders at levels that are likely to be the most effective are probiotic bacteria and chlorophyll. Athletic Greens has the best balance here.
CytoGreens for Athletes is a good pick as well, since one serving contains twenty-one times as much chlorophyll as a serving of dark, leafy greens. However, it doesn’t contain any probiotic bacteria, so it’s not maximizing its effectiveness in this regard.
Vitamineral Greens came third for weight loss, as it’s very high in chlorophyll – one serving contains roughly 5mg of spirulina, chlorella, and the juice of several kinds of grass. It contains 15mg of probiotic bacteria too, though there’s no information as to how many bacteria that weight signifies.
The Best Greens-Protein Hybrid
Kylea Health & Energy Total Living Drink is a really solid product.
There’s a subsection of greens powders that combine the benefits of green superfood powders with the pros (and calories) of a protein shake. For that, Kylea took the cake: it tastes like blueberry tea, provides hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of percent of your recommended daily intake of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, contains four kinds of probiotics, and there are plenty of your normal greens ingredients.
Shakeology was a close runner up in this category. It’s got a lot of spirulina, chlorella, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and adaptogenic herbs. However, the price and the fact that it has proprietary blends knocked it down to second place.
Of all of the health and wellness supplements on the market, green superfood powders are among the newest — and they’re also among the toughest to scrutinize. We get it: many of them make outlandish claims and barely try to support them with information on their nutrition label. But while you can’t “out supplement” a poor diet, many of these powders may well confer benefits to some areas of your health. After digging through a lot of muck, we’ve uncovered some truly excellent supplements. We think you’ll be as impressed with them as we were.
1. Zhang, J et al. Taking nutritional supplements for three months reduced blood pressure but not blood lipid levels in students. J Chiropr Med. 2006 Summer; 5(2): 53–59.
2. Zhang, J et al. The effect of fruit and vegetable powder mix on hypertensive subjects: a pilot study. J Chiropr Med. 2009 Sep; 8(3): 101–106.
3. Abenavoli L, et al. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1423-32.
4. Ishaque S, et al. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 May 29;12:70.
5. Bhardwaj N, et al. Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2014;8(2):104-17.