"Greens" and "whole foods" powders and pills, made from wheatgrass, alfalfa, kelp, spirulina, leafy vegetables and other chlorophyll-containing ingredients, as well as fruits, were recently tested by ConsumerLab.com for potential contamination with heavy metals, microbes, and pesticides. ConsumerLab.com found that only five of the 11 products selected for testing met its quality standards. Powders that failed testing were contaminated with lead, arsenic or bacteria, and a pill failed to properly break apart. Americans purchased $834 million worth of "greens" products in 2011 and the products represent an expanding market, according to Nutrition Business Journal.
"Greens and whole foods powders and pills can provide a range of vitamins and natural antioxidants, and they tend to be high in fiber and low in fats, cholesterol and sodium," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of ConsumerLab.com. "However, being of made from plants and other natural ingredients, a product can be contaminated by the heavy metals or microbes that accumulate in those materials. It's not uncommon for a greens product to list more than a dozen plant-based ingredients—if one is highly contaminated, it can spoil the entire product."
ConsumerLab.com found 6 mcg to 11.6 mcg of lead per daily serving in three products, representing significant and unnecessary exposure to lead, which is a toxin. One powdered product contained a high level of arsenic, a carcinogen. A single serving of the powder (to be mixed in a cup or half-cup of liquid) contained 24.3 mcg of arsenic, which is more than twice the amount allowed by the U.S. EPA in a liter (4.3 cups) of drinking water. Another product contained a large amount of bacteria, suggesting unsanitary handling. A product in pill form failed to break apart properly in disintegration testing.
The cost of a suggested serving of each ranged from just 37 cents to $4.75. Some of the most expensive products were those which failed testing.
The new Greens and Whole Foods Powders and Pills Review provides test results for 16 products—11 selected by ConsumerLab.com and five that passed ConsumerLab.com's Quality Certification Program. It also lists two products similar to one which was approved in testing. Products included in the report are All Day Energy Greens, AmaZing Grass Green Superfood, American Health More Than A Greens, Barlean's Organic Oils Greens Organic, Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW Organic Green Super Food, Gary Null's Green Stuff, Healthy To Go! Go Greens, InnerLight Super Greens, Juice Plus + Garden Blend, Nature's Bounty Super Greens Nutritional Powder, Now Spirulina, Puritan's Pride Life's Greens, Rainbow Light Immuno-Build, Solgar Earth Source Greens & More, Swanson GreenFoods Green Max Powder, The Ultimate Meal, Vibrant Health Green Vibrance, and Vitamin World Life's Greens. In addition to test results, the report reviews and compares the amounts of vitamins, minerals and other ingredients in the products, as well as prices.