The Power of Greens: Whole Foods versus Greens Powders

Let’s Talk Nutritional Benefits of Green Foods

 

It feels like there has been a huge green revolution over the past decade, doesn’t it? Today, we’re diving deep into the world of leafy greens – those vibrant veggies that pack a powerful nutritional punch that we all feel like we should be eating more of. We’re going to talk about the nutritional benefits, whole food versus green powders, and what the actual heck you should be eating when it comes to greens.

 

So, what exactly makes greens so darn good for you? Well, for starters, they’re rich in vitamin K, a key player in bone health and blood clotting. They’re also packed with folate, a B vitamin that plays a crucial role in cell repair and DNA synthesis. And let’s not forget about chlorophyll (Happy Gilmore, anyone?!), the pigment that gives greens their bright green color and boasts detoxifying properties to boot. Plus, greens are packed with  antioxidants, those mighty little molecules that fight off free radicals and keep your cells happy and healthy. So whether you’re looking to boost your immune system, support healthy digestion, or simply feel more energized, greens are your go-to guys!

 

The Greens Gap: Why People Don’t Eat Enough Vegetables

 

Why is it so darn hard to eat enough greens? As a dietitian, I find that many people like greens but most people don’t eat them or at least eat enough of them. Life gets busy, and for most busy parents, convenience trumps nutrition. According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average daily intake of vegetables among adults in the United States is approximately 1.7 servings per day, significantly lower than the recommended 3 servings. Who has time to chop, wash, and cook a mountain of veggies after a long day at work? Plus, let’s be honest – not everyone is a fan of the taste or texture of certain greens. But don’t worry, we’ll talk about ways to improve this.

 

When we skimp on greens, we’re missing out on a whole slew of health benefits that can’t be found in a pill or powder. Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that only 8% of American adults consume dark green vegetables on any given day, highlighting a significant gap in greens consumption across the population. Only 8%! From improved digestion to glowing skin to a boosted mood, greens offer a plethora of perks that go beyond the numbers on a nutrition label. We have to do better, sister.

 

Ways to Get in More Greens

 

Alright, let’s get down to business – how can we up our greens game so we can reap the benefits? First off, get creative in the kitchen – from tossing greens into your morning smoothie to whipping up a batch of homemade pesto with fresh basil, there are endless ways to incorporate greens into your meals. Did you know you can freeze spinach leaves? This is perfect for when you want to pull a handful or two out and add it to your other sauteed vegetables or even your smoothies!

 

Secondly, think about partial meal prep – spend a little time on the weekend washing, chopping, and prepping your greens so they’re ready to go when you need them. And finally, don’t be afraid to think outside the box – try experimenting with new varieties of greens, like watercress or arugula, to keep things interesting. Trying different kinds of foods will add even more benefit and variety to your gut microbiome and who knows…. You may just find your new favorite green!

 

Some of my favorite ways to add more greens include adding extra kinds of greens to my salads and stir frys. You can also add more greens to your sandwiches and protein bowls to help boost the nutrient count. The next time you cook a meal, look at it and ask yourself if you can add more greens in some way…. I bet you can!

 

Greens Powders: Pros and Cons

 

Alright now let’s talk about the trendy greens powders – those convenient little packets that you don’t have to do much with besides add water and drink. On a positive note, greens powders offer a quick and easy way to sneak in some extra nutrients, especially for those who struggle to meet their daily veggie quota. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, greens powders can be a convenient supplement to support overall health and improve nutrition. 

 

While greens powders may offer a concentrated dose of essential nutrients found in greens, they often lack the fiber and other beneficial compounds found in whole foods. Fiber, for example, plays a crucial role in digestion and can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote satiety. We also know that dietary fiber intake has been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. 

 

Additionally, greens powders can be pricey, especially when compared to buying fresh greens at the grocery store. So while they may seem like an easier option, they are typically more expensive than buying whole greens. 

 

It’s important to note that greens powders are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning their safety and efficacy are not monitored as closely as you’d think. While many reputable brands adhere to strict quality control standards, others may contain fillers, additives, or even harmful contaminants. As consumers, it’s crucial to do your research, read labels carefully, and choose reputable brands that prioritize transparency and quality.

 

Ultimately, greens powders can be a convenient way to supplement your diet, but they should not replace whole foods entirely. Finding a balance between whole foods and supplements can ensure you’re getting a diverse array of nutrients and reaping the full benefits of a nutritious diet.

 

This Dietitian’s Viewpoint on Greens Powders

 

As a dietitian, I’m all about balance – and that includes finding the right balance between whole foods and supplements like greens powders. While greens powders can be a convenient way to boost your nutrient intake, they shouldn’t take the place of whole greens in your diet. Instead, think of them as a helpful tool to complement your existing healthy eating habits.

 

My advice? Focus on filling your plate with a colorful array of whole, nutrient-dense foods – including plenty of leafy greens – and use greens powders as a convenient backup plan for those days when life gets busy. By taking a balanced approach to your nutrition and incorporating both whole foods and supplements into your routine, you’ll be giving your body the benefit of both. And if you’re eating plenty of vegetables, there is no need to buy greens powder unless you want to add them in.

 

Green Smoothie Recipe

 

Well I figured it wouldn’t be a fabulous blog post unless I sent you on your way with a green smoothie recipe, right?! This delicious blend is one of my personal favorites and is packed with 3-4 servings of fruits and veggies packed with antioxidants as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. 

So grab your blender and let’s gooooooo! 

 

INGREDIENTS

3 cups of fresh spinach

1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple

1 small banana

Sprinkle of flaxseed

1 cup of almond milk (or milk of choice)

4-5 ice cubes

 

INSTRUCTIONS: Place all ingredients into your blender. Blend until smooth and creamy, then pour into a glass and enjoy! Cheers to the power of greens – bottoms up!

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