There's never been a better time to stock up on a nutrient-laden greens powder: It's a great way to load up on the nutrient goodness of veggies, and support your immune system with extra antioxidants, probiotics, and ingredients that encourage digestion and detoxification.*
But shopping for a new supplement, especially one like a greens powder, can be overwhelming because there are so many kinds, with lots of variation in the formulas and ingredients. Not to mention, it's important to know that not all greens powders are as good for the environment as others.
When he appeared on our podcast last February, functional medicine pioneer Robert Rountree, M.D. gave his advice for finding the best greens powder. Here's what you need to know about choosing a greens powder to support your body, and the planet.*
Buy organic—even for supplements.
While you may already be sure to shop organic in the produce section, it's important not to neglect that practice when it comes to picking a greens powder. "It's really a shame, but the way we grow crops these days is a disaster," said Rountree.
"The ones that seem to be the biggest deal these days are the organophosphates, which are just a kind of pesticide," explained Rountree. "It has been shown that if you put kids on an organic vegetable diet and you measure organophosphates in their urine, within three days, the levels dropped by something like 90%."
And in addition to being a smarter choice for your body, choosing organic can be a healthier option for the environment as well. Organic farming can reduce pollution, conserve water, and use less energy overall.
It's not just about kale and spinach: Look for sea veggies, too.
While "greens" may bring to mind images of leafy greens like kale, there's another type of veggie you should be thinking about for your greens powder. Sea veggies like chlorella, kelp and nori have their own set of benefits that can enhance any diet, even one that's already packing in the land vegetables.*
"They're very high in nutrients," said Rountree. "They have a particular type of polysaccharide in them that actually binds to heavy metals and toxins." We are inundated with these toxic chemical compounds called organochlorines, Rountree explained. Our bodies are doing their best to get rid of them and the sea veggies help bind to these chemicals, which in turn helps our body eliminate them.* Nori, a type of seaweed, has been shown to bind to dioxin, an organochlorine.
It's also important to note that, because sea veggies are so naturally absorbent, it's essential to opt for organic sea veggies that are grown in a clean, controlled environment.
Is there anything else you should be looking for on the label?
After you've checked for sea veggies in the blend and the organic label on the bottle, what else should we be searching for in our greens powders? Rountree had a few gut-healthy suggestions.
"I want to see some digestive enzymes to help me break down my food,"* Rountree said of shopping for an effective option. "I also want to see some pre- and probiotics."
Once you get your hands on a top-of-the-line greens powder, it's easy to find a variety of ways to incorporate it into your daily habits. Rountree's personal practice? "I make a smoothie," he said. "This is something I've recommended to my patients for years."
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.