Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on
Can Greens Powders Replace Vegetables?
Every fitness enthusiast knows that you cannot have a balanced diet unless you 'eat your greens.' Even the ones who do not religiously follow a healthy, nutritious diet know how essential greens are for the body. They contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. All these substances and micronutrients help our body to carry out its basic functions and ensure good health in general. To fulfill the said purposes, fitness and health companies came up with greens powders, along with other supplements that provide vitamins and minerals. Greens Powders have been in the market for a while now, but can they replace vegetables? Do they deliver the same benefits as veggies, and is the hype really worth it? Let's find out!
What are greens powders?
In simplest terms, greens powders are powders that are extracted from leafy green vegetables or plants (and in some cases from fruits as well) amalgamated with certain essential nutrients in the form of supplements. Greens powders are obtained as the final product after the plants are dried and blended into a fine powder. They are then condensed into a supplement that provides daily recommended serving of vegetables, as per the claims.
The commonly marketed greens powders contain superfoods such as herbs, vegetables, wheat, barley, and probiotics. These health-boosting elements tempt the consumers to get their hands on these powders. Some use greens powders to make up for the lack of vegetables that they consume in a day, while others believe that these powders may even replace the need to have vegetables at all. The fact that greens powder is easier to consume as compared to vegetables makes it even more appealing, especially in times like these, when every second of the day is preoccupied with activity or the other. However, before we replace our veggies with greens powders or start to think of them as a substitute to natural sources of nutrients, we must probe a little further and ask: Can greens powders replace vegetables?
Can Greens Powders Replace Vegetables?
The way greens powder products are advertised, you believe that these magic powders may even spare you the need to cut your vegetables and serve them with every meal. The fact that all you have to do is mix some powder into water and gulp it down sounds quite enticing, especially if the product is claiming that it will satiate your body's need for vegetables and fruits.
Our health care providers, dieticians, nutritionists might disagree with this notion. Various studies have been conducted to see if these powders do really live up to the hype, and conflicting results have emerged pertaining to their effectiveness in providing optimum health benefits as compared to raw, natural vegetables. Most have shown that though greens powders do contain nutrients and contain advantageous properties, they cannot completely replace vegetables and other superfoods in their original form.
Evidence that proves the above-mentioned assertion that powders are not a replacement for vegetables is the fact that they are processed while being manufactured. As a result, some of the nutritional value of the greens is lost during the preparation of their powdered supplements. On the contrary, vegetables and other superfoods in their whole form retain their nutrients, and anything in its natural form is healthier – something we are all aware of.
Another contention that nutritionists put forth is the loss of fiber that occurs when greens are processed into the form of powders. While whole fruits and vegetables contain water and fiber along with vitamins and minerals, greens powders in their final shape lose the fiber that its original source contains. This also shows that even if greens powders contain nutrients in one form or the other, they still cannot replace vegetables in their raw and natural form.
Sources of Greens Powders
Greens powders are manufactured in two ways and come from different sources of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and even multigrain. They are made by drying the ingredients and crushing them into a powder. Another source is to extract the juice from the desired compounds, dry it, and then convert it into a powder. Both ways are used to make greens powders, and some companies combine the two methods for their products.
As for the sources that these green powders come from, there are plenty of them. Although we call them greens powders, they do not necessarily contain all greens but fruits and other non-greens ingredients too. Some of the common greens and non-greens that are used to make these powders include:
- Alfalfa grass
- Acai berries
- Brussels sprouts
- Barley grass
- Collard greens
- Goji berries
A combination of these ingredients and many others is usually incorporated together to make one product of greens powders. The nutritional value of each product varies, and the number of vitamins and minerals also differs. For example, greens powders containing Vitamin K would target different consumers than the one that contains Vitamin E or Vitamin C. It generally depends on what the consumers are looking for, so they get the product as per their personal preference and requirement.
Types of Greens Powders
Many dieticians and nutritionists believe that greens powders can be supplemented along with your daily vegetables, although they cannot completely replace the natural sources of healthy nutrients. Some of the recommended greens powders products that are approved by dieticians include:
- Garden of Life
- Best Organic
- Green Vibrance
- Amazing Grass
- Natures Plus
- Green Foods Green Magma
These are some of the greens powders brands that are usually recommended in addition to regular green vegetables. Each one of these specifically manufactured, keeping in consideration a certain health issue or condition. Though all the types of greens powders contain essential vitamins and minerals, some contain a higher concentration of one over the other. The powders do not make up for the lack of vegetable intake; however, when you are on the go or traveling to someplace where vegetables aren’t readily available, greens powders could come in handy.
Health Benefits of Greens Powders
It has already been established that greens powders cannot replace vegetables; however, that does not mean they are of no use at all. Despite the processing they go through, these powders are made to provide essential nutrients to the body, which they do, even if they do that to a certain extent and amount.
Some health benefits that greens powders assure to provide to the body are:
- Support/help the balancing of hormones
- Help the body detoxify
- Balances blood sugar levels
- Enhances cognitive function and brain health
- Protects and keeps the heart-healthy
- Helps balance the body's pH levels
Research on the utility of greens powders shows that they may not be a complete replacement of fresh, natural vegetables, but they can certainly help the body provide essential nutritional value that it usually falls short of, despite the use of vegetables.
Recommended Dosage of Greens Powders
Every greens powder product comes with a label that shows the recommended daily intake of the powder. The ideal way is to ask your dietician or nutritionist about the dosage. Otherwise, a scoop or two per day, along with your daily meals, including regular vegetables, would be sufficient.
Possible Side Effects of Greens Powders
As we have mentioned earlier, greens powders contain different concentrations of vitamins and minerals in every product. They are high in certain vitamins that come from the greens, which is why sometimes they are not suitable for certain consumers, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions or those who are on medications.
The effects of greens powders also depend on the other medications they interact with. For example, if you are on blood thinners, a greens powder with a high concentration of Vitamin K would not be suitable for you as it might interact with blood clotting and cause any adverse effect.
Greens powders are not necessarily detrimental to health, but it is always advisable to check with your healthcare provider before using them on a daily basis. Also, check the source or brand you are getting it from and always go for the ones that clearly state the list of their ingredients.
There is no second opinion on the fact that leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits are extremely nutritious for our health. They provide essential micronutrients to the body and help it function optimally.
Greens powders come as supplements that contain the extracts of these greens we dearly love. They claim to provide the health benefits that we get from natural sources that are vegetables and fruits. However, experts are of the view that green powders undoubtedly, add to the existing nutritional value of the vegetables, but they cannot be replaced by whole and natural sources that we consume on a daily basis. Therefore, it is best to combine your greens powders with your daily diet, including your veggies, to construct a healthy and balanced daily diet.