Are you meeting the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day? If not, join the club!
Studies show that only ten percent of Americans are eating the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.1
This deficiency in greens intake has led to the rise of greens supplements – powdered drink mixes containing several different dried vegetable powders in one blend.
These products offer a convenient way to get some extra servings of veggies worked into your diet.
But what are the benefits of these greens powders? And how do they compare nutritionally to real produce?
Let’s find out.
“So. You’re telling me I’m supposed to eat almost ten servings of vegetables?”
I know. That’s a lot of veggies!
It’s no wonder almost nobody actually gets that amount in their diet… especially when you think about our busy modern lifestyles and how tricky it can be to squeeze healthy meals into it.
But did you ever stop and think…
Why are we supposed to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day in the first place?
Why We Eat Veggies.
Let’s face it. Eating almost ten servings of vegetables may seem like “produce overkill”.
But there are numerous studies linking higher intakes of fruits and vegetables with lower risks of chronic disease.
It is absolutely worth your time exploring how to work more of these miraculous foods into your daily routine.
They are packed with everything your body needs to ward off disease and keep you running strong.
Fruits and vegetables provide a wide array of these five important types of nutrients:
- Phytochemicals (beneficial plant compounds)
All of these lower your risk of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Fun Fact: Research has found that 7.8 million deaths worldwide could be prevented each year if people ate more fruits and vegetables. The research also found that the more produce you eat, the lower your overall risk for chronic disease and premature death was.2
Put bluntly – the main reason we eat vegetables is so that we can live longer, healthier lives.
So you’re on board.
You want to start eating more fruits and veggies.
You will buy more fresh produce, frozen vegetables, or even canned veggies (if you are feeling brave!).
But you still may find it difficult to reach the recommended 5-9 servings.
If you find yourself struggling to squeeze in those 5-9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, you may be one of the millions of Americans tempted to try greens powders.
What are greens powders?
Greens powders are dietary supplements that you can conveniently mix into water or another liquid of your choice.
They are designed to provide your body with the various vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds found in fruits and vegetables.
Greens supplements generally contain a variety of dehydrated fruits and vegetables along with other ingredients like extracts, probiotics, natural sugar substitutes, and added fiber.
Wait a minute – you mean you can actually drink your vegetables, without having to shop, wash, chop, and prepare produce??
This may sound too good to be true…
And like anything that sounds too good to be true, it’s okay to ask the difficult questions, like:
- Are powdered greens as good as fresh vegetables?
- Are powdered greens good for you?
- Do greens powders solve the challenge of how to eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day?
The answer to all of these questions is, well, maybe.
The Benefits of Drinking Powdered Greens
Let’s start with the upside of greens supplements.
Drinking a smoothie with your favorite greens powder or mixing a greens powder with water may help support a healthy lifestyle.
Since they are simply a blend of real, dehydrated vegetables, they contain the same variety of beneficial nutrients found naturally in those vegetables, including antioxidants, fiber, and an array of important vitamins and minerals.
Here are the main health benefits of greens powders.
1. May Help Prevent Chronic Diseases
Greens powders are chock full of health-preserving antioxidants.
Antioxidants are powerful compounds that reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis.3
2. Provides Energy Throughout the Day
If you’re using coffee or energy drinks to power up your day, you may want to consider a greens powder.
Powdered greens provide low-glycemic index (slow-releasing) carbohydrates and protein, which help sustain your energy levels throughout the day.4
The also contain important co-factors involved in the production of energy, like B-vitamins and amino acids.
3. Supports a Healthy Blood Pressure
Greens powders are typically rich in magnesium, a nutrient known to help regulate your blood pressure.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans that has high blood pressure, drinking greens powders may help to control it.
One study found that taking greens powders daily helped to decrease blood pressure by 8% in people with hypertension.5
Look for a greens supplement containing chlorella – a superfood with numerous benefits including bolstering cardiovascular health.
4. Boosts your Immune System
Powdered greens are loaded with vitamins known to bolster your immune system.
More specifically, research has shown that vitamin C can support your immune system by helping to reduce inflammation, preventing some viral infections, and supporting the production of important immune cells throughout your body.6
5. Provide a Full Complement of Powerful Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are helpful plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can support your overall health and wellbeing.
They are what make many of the world’s healthiest vegetables so valuable for your health.
Phytonutrients may include the following:
- Lycopene: This antioxidant may help prevent certain types of cancers and may also play a role in supporting your heart health.
- Beta-carotene: This important nutrient improves vision, supports your immune system, and enhances the health of your bones and skin.
- Isoflavones: Isoflavones may help to prevent breast cancer and can support your bone and joint health.
- Resveratrol: This phytonutrient can help prevent certain cancers and may also improve your heart health.
Greens Powders vs. Real Veggies
While drinking greens powders will provide your body with important nutrients, there are a few reasons why eating actual whole fruits and vegetables is still superior to their powdered forms.
Greens powders are made with dried vegetable powders so that they remain shelf-stable.
During the process of converting fresh produce to dehydrated powder, these greens lose most of their fiber content.
Fiber for the Win
Now keep in mind that the recommended fiber intake is 28 grams for women and 34 grams for men.7
So if you’re one of the many people struggling to eat adequate amounts of fiber, drinking greens powders won’t help you nearly as much as eating a cup of uncooked broccoli.
Fiber plays so many important roles in your body.
For example, dietary fiber can help support the good bacteria in your gut. (A good probiotic supplement can also support the good bacteria in your gut!)
It can also help you to feel fuller for longer which can support your weight loss goals.
Furthermore, a high fiber diet has been linked with a reduction in cardiovascular disease and diabetes.8
Greens Powders are Not Quite as Nutrient Dense
The process of extraction and dehydration can decrease the nutritional quality, or density of the product, making them inferior to fresh produce.
Now. Drinking greens powder is still better than not having any greens powder at all, however, just keep in mind that the powders do lose some of their nutritional value during processing.
How Many Servings of Vegetables are in Greens Supplements?
One misunderstood, and often misrepresented aspect of greens supplements is how many servings of vegetables each serving is equivalent to.
Many greens supplement companies claim that each scoop is worth ‘x servings of fruits and vegetables’.
But what does that even mean?
If you were to grind up and reduce 3 ‘servings’, (about 1.5 cups) of real vegetables (kale, spinach, and broccoli) into dehydrated vegetable powder, it would yield between 8-10 grams of powder.9
Since many greens supplements have roughly a 10 gram serving size, it is a fair estimate to say that most greens supplements contain the equivalent of 2-3 servings of vegetables per serving.
At UNICO, we use a natural vitamin blend called Nutrifusion to bolster the vitamin content of each serving, giving our 10-12 gram serving the nutritional equivalent of closer to 5 servings of vegetables.
The cool part is that the vitamins are derived from natural sources like orange, sweet potato, mushroom, and spinach.
Avoid Proprietary Blends
Keep in mind that some companies may use proprietary blends to disguise how much of each ingredient is in each serving.
Look for a greens supplement with full label transparency to ensure that you are getting the most amount of actual greens possible.
Taurus Super Greens Formula
Taurus Super Greens Formula
Featuring 12 organic superfoods, a Nutrifusion vitamin blend, and full label transparency.
Now that you understand the conversion of real vegetable servings to greens powders, let’s summarize the pros and cons of greens supplements.
Greens Supplements – The Pros vs Cons
Here are the pros and cons of greens powders vs real vegetables:
|More convenient than fresh produce||Some nutritional value lost during processing|
|More economical than fresh produce||Difficult to drink ENOUGH of it to compare to real veggies|
|Shelf-stable (less waste)||Less fiber than eating real produce|
|Ability to consume many different vegetables in one sitting||Less natural water / hydration|
|Flavor / Versatility (ability to easily mix into smoothies, shakes, etc.)||Risk of allergens|
Should you drink greens powders?
Greens powders are dietary supplements that have become a popular way to help people reach their daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables.
These nutrient dense powders are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds designed to support your health and well-being.
They can boost your immune system, increase your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, and may even prevent the onset of some chronic diseases.
However, greens powders lack the same fiber content as real veggies.
They also lose some of their nutritional density during processing, making them not quite as ideal as fresh produce.
So instead of ditching fruits and vegetables altogether, you may consider using powdered greens as a way to supplement or to compliment your dietary veggies.
For example, if you’re wondering how to get some veggies into your breakfast meal, you may opt for a green protein shake to kick start your day.
Just remember to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day to ensure that you’re getting the best of both worlds.*