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Do we really need a Greens Powder?

Greens powders – are they worth the money and taste?

Greens powder, is it just a marketing trend, or are they actually beneficial to our health?  In this blog we take a deep dive into what’s up with greens powders and whether we need them in our diet.

The medical literature over the past few decades have been peppered by studies showing the benefits of fruits and vegetables[1]. It is undisputed that eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your health as they are high in nutrients essential for human health. They also provide beneficial soluble fibre, are relatively low in calories, and are full of vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. Studies have also confirmed that fruits and vegetables help to prevent chronic diseases that plague the human population[2].

Are you getting enough?

The only problem with this information is some of us don’t take science seriously enough. This has resulted in the Western population grossly under consuming these goldmines of nutrients and instead consuming tastier breads, cereals, dairy foods, meats, and of course the smorgasbord of junk foods available that is deep-fried and tasty as hell! In Australia, we have low consumption of fruits and vegetables[3] for several reasons. Firstly, they can be a pain to prepare. It is much easier and quicker to drive through McDonald’s and grab a burger and fries (fries are a kind of vegetable???). And who can be bothered cooking vegetables? I mean, the cutting, the steaming, and the shopping…all of which are a turn-off. Then, there is a taste. I mean, no one on planet earth likes brussels sprouts right?!

Getting your Greens

Ok, let’s assume you are not resistant to eating the odd veggie or munching on fruit. Say you are happily eating an apple a day (just to keep the doctor away) and you love your meat and potatoes in the evening. You may even prepare roasts. You are also happy to steam beans and cook peas for dinner. After all, Mum always said you need your greens and she just happened to be right about this. And even your pizza Friday night has green stuff on it and you can see the broccoli in your Chinese dinner Saturday night. So, you happily report to family and friends that yes, you do consume your greens in the amounts that would make your naturopath proud.

And while you sleep well knowing you are consuming enough greens, you still may not be eating enough greens and in fact, you are nowhere near it. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults eat at least two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables daily to maintain a healthy weight and reduce chronic disease risk[4]. Fruit and Vegetable consumption was below recommendations, with vegetable consumption notably low. Only 1 in 10 of the participants ate at least five servings of vegetables/day (median intake was two daily servings), and just over half-consumed two servings of fruit/day[5].

What to do about your crappy Diet?

The obvious answer here is to eat more greens. After all, a bowl of steamed brussels sprouts instead of coco-pops would be the ideal way to start your day. That will get more greens in your diet and you will be cutting out a lot of empty calories, loads of sugar, and milk from another species of animal. Ok, that may not happen, but incorporating more green foods in your diet for dinner may be a solution. Add to this, chomping that extra piece of fruit instead of that muffin for morning tea will also help. There is one more thing you can do to get more greens into your life.

Greens Powders

I will say again, the best way to increase greens and fresh foods into your diet is to physically consume more fruits, vegetables and salads. On top of that advice, you may want to supplement with a greens powder. These powders have become more and more popular as the public become more aware of the power of greens in your diet. Research has found that these powders and smoothies may possess beneficial levels of antioxidants and a wide variety of nutrients beneficial for people seeking to supplement their diet[6]. The other benefit of making up a green smoothie for breakfast is that the smoothie itself is very quick to make up. Fresh fruits such as apples and berries can also be added to the smoothie further boosting its nutritional profile. It can also displace your bland, processed cereal and milk for breakfast, turning your weakest meal into one of your best meals. Or, you can throw that sweet muffin in the office at someone you don’t like and instead, have a smaller serving of powdered greens[7].

What is the quality of the Greens Powder?

There is a relatively new freeze-drying technique that turns the water into ice in the greens powder. The ice is then removed. The result is that without heating, over 95% of the moisture is removed from the product greatly increasing the shelf span of the powder. This means that the product can be nutrient-rich, without being unstable at room temperature.

By freeze-drying, the powder, the heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C can be preserved and, after using this technique, the level of vitamin C in the product only drops by 12.5%[8].

From that, you would be quick to assume that all greens powders are created equal and contain equal amounts of nutrients?  We would love to agree with that statement but we simply cannot.  We recommend doing your own research into a greens powder that is suitable for you, try asking a health professional for their personal favourite brand or a naturopath, dietician, or nutritionist in the health food store.  They will all be able to direct you to a high-quality nutritious greens powder that is suitable for you.

Is taking a Greens Supplement a good idea?

In short, yes and no. Yes, there are nutrients and minerals in greens powers so you may get some benefit supplementing with it. The downside is that these powders are expensive and you want to focus on getting the most out of your food. I would rather you invest your money in healthier food options or, even a multivitamin supplement made from natural foods like Vital Food. And whilst most nutrients are preserved in a powdered greens formula, there is nothing like eating fresh fruits and vegetables.