Eating your fruits and vegetables (at least in whole form) has been linked to longer, healthier lives, but in today’s time-constrained world, people are often too busy to prepare their own meals. Many will just grab something on the go or, if they do find time to prepare something themselves, they often eat the same thing over and over again. This causes two major problems in diets today:
- Not getting the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables (5 per day)
- Not getting a nutrient variety in their diet
The truth is that complete nutrition takes effort. Diet alone is often not enough to provide adequate amounts of the essential nutrition your body needs, and supplementing is a great way to fill in those gaps.
Juicing and green smoothies have become more popular as people have become more conscientious of the importance of phytonutrients in their diet. Although juicing your veggies and fruit through a juicer can provide a way to ingest these foods, the shopping, preparation and clean up can be a time-consuming endeavor. On the other side of the spectrum, purchasing a green smoothie at your local smoothie shop can be an expensive habit if it becomes a part of your daily routine. These two options also can contain high levels of sugar without the help of the natural fiber from the whole foods to slow down the absorption of sugar into the body.
This is where greens and superfood powders with a low sugar content can help. “A green powder supplement is like a multivitamin on steroids,” nutritionist Teresa Boyce says. “They offer you all the vitamins and minerals of a multi but with added nutrients such as probiotics, prebiotics, detoxification nutrients and disease-protective antioxidants.”
Greens powders are combinations of plants or other superfoods that have been dried and blended into a powder and are designed to help you easily score an array of health-boosting vitamins and minerals. Ingredients vary greatly by brand, but common ingredients will include spinach, spirulina (an algae), apples, kale, berries, pineapple, beets, ginger and mushrooms. Some brands even contain prebiotics and probiotics as well as other digestive enzymes. These powders are a convenient way to add to your daily servings of fruits and veggies, just mix the powder into water, juice or a shake and you are good to go.
These powders usually contain a lower amount of sugar and pack higher amounts of the phytonutrients in one serving than a fresh juice.
Vandana Sheth, a Los-Angeles based registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that many common greens powder ingredients have been linked to improved exercise endurance, diabetes management and blood lipid levels.
There are many other benefits associated with consuming greens powders. Some of the most cited benefits include:
- Promote Heart Health
- Improve Skin Complexion
- Can help aid in weight loss
- Reduction of Inflammation in the body
- Increase energy levels
- Promote healthy circulation
In fact, one study in the journal of Chiropractic Medicine, which included 40 men and women, reported that those taking a fruit and veggie powder blend daily for 90 days did reduce blood pressure.**
Another anti-inflammatory superfood that seems like a natural complement to any wellness beverage is Full Spectrum Hemp. Evidence continues to mount on the health and wellness benefits of cannabidiol. Including this superfood would create a synergistic effect to boost the benefits of the most commonly used ingredients in greens powders and drinks. Cannabidiol has been marketed and included mostly in drinks or edibles with a high sugar and fat content, which can negate the effectiveness and benefits of Full Spectrum Hemp.
According to Clint Werner, a San Francisco macrobiotic chef who is the author of the best-selling “Marijuana Gateway to Health,” a proper diet stimulates and regulates the endocannabinoid system, a major network of nerve cell receptors in your body that interact with the compounds in cannabis. “Ingesting edibles that contain other anti-inflammatory and health-guarding ingredients such as turmeric or blueberries can likewise give cannabinoids a boost in lowering or resolving pro-disease pathologies.”
So, will this greens powder replace my need to eat real fruits and vegetables? No, they will not, but they will add nutrient variety that you may be missing in your current diet while boosting your daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
When in whole foods, nutrients have a synergistic effect. They complement each other which helps the human body effectively absorb and use the nutrients efficiently. For instance, in one Advances in Nutrition review, researchers concluded that lycopene from tomatoes was more beneficial at improving cardiovascular health compared to lycopene from supplements. Meanwhile, numerous studies have found that multivitamins pack minimal benefits compared to whole, nutrient-rich diets.
Loading this many vegetables and other superfoods into a drink typically creates a gray or earth-tasting supplement. If you want to experiment with other ways to consume your greens powder, you can:
- Add them to scrambled eggs or an omelet
- Sprinkle them over roasted vegetables
- Mix them into salad dressing
- Add them to soup
No matter how solid your greens powder’s nutritional label is, it’s still best to use it as a supplement rather than as your main produce source. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends filling half of every plate you eat with fruits and veggies; that should come out to eating 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day.