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The Unexpected Thing An RD Checks For When Reading A Greens Powder Label

Eliza Sullivan
Author:
March 31, 2020
Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Green Powder on a Small Plate
Image by Crissy Mitchell / Stocksy
March 31, 2020

When buying supplements, checking the nutrition label is an obvious move. But when it comes to what you should be looking for, things get more complicated. Vitamins are probably at the top of the list, but have you given much thought to what type of vitamins are in your supplements?

"I skip supplements with added vitamins and minerals," Jess Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, told mindbodygreen. While some greens powders may look nutrient-dense on the label, the product can be boosted by synthetic vitamins. With her help, we got to the core of what exactly to look for on a label—and why it's so important.

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The key thing to look for in a greens powder.

Added vitamins, at surface value, may not sound like a bad thing, but there's actually a simple reason that you should be prioritizing whole sources of vitamins instead: The full nutrition is lost when you isolate the artificial version.

"The synthetic forms of various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the like may look almost the same," explained Cording, "but when you isolate that nutrient from all the other elements of that food, you may not have the same full picture of those health benefits." Whole foods, on the other hand, have the benefits of the vitamins and minerals, plus the cofactors, enzymes, and antioxidants the food provides.

Adding lots of extra vitamins can also make balancing your supplement regimen more complex, as it heightens the levels beyond what you may need: "I prefer supplements that don't have a ton of extras added," Cording said, "because it is possible to overdo it with certain vitamins, especially if you're taking multiple supplements."

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What else should you look for in a greens powder?

Getting to know the ingredients goes beyond checking in on vitamins in the product. "I always check to see what types of greens are used; ideally they should be the first things on the ingredients list," said Cording of her nutrition label checklist.

But when it comes to additions, they're not all bad: Some can enhance the benefits the powder already has. "Like the addition of probiotic bacteria and prebiotic fibers," she said. "I also check to see if there is any caffeine."

Another often overlooked component of a well-rounded greens powder? Organic sea veggies. According to Cording, "Sea vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, but a lot of people feel intimidated by them." A greens powder is a perfect place to make those nutrient-dense ingredients accessible—just add it to smoothies, soups, or sauces, and enjoy the benefits.

Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.