You’ve got to eat your veggies!
You can probably hear your mother in your head when you think about vegetables, telling you how healthy they are. She’s right, you know – vegetables are calorie-for-calorie some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Providing vitamins, fibre and antioxidants, colourful vegetables really should be a cornerstone of your diet.
That said, it can feel like work trying to get tons of leafy greens in your meal plan, or maybe you simply don’t have time to make a giant salad everyday. In addition, greens might be nutrient dense but you still need to eat a lot to get the benefits they provide.
A simpler, more efficient solution would be to consider taking a greens powder. Formulated by dehydrating nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and even algae, greens powders provide a concentrated dose of veggie goodness in a format that is less, well, voluminous. Easily mixed into water to be taken on-the-go or added to a smoothie, greens supplements provide optimal nutrition in a small, easily accessible package.
Lets explore why a greens supplement might be the health boost you’ve been looking for.
1. Antioxidants can help prevent chronic disease
Plant compounds are some of the most potent sources of antioxidants available. What are antioxidants? As your body performs it’s various functions, free radicals are created which can damage cells. Antioxidants give up an electron to stabilise these free radicals and prevent the damage they cause.
The damage that antioxidants prevent is damage that can cause cancer, heart disease and other inflammation-related diseases down the line. Greens powders are low in calories but high in antioxidants along with all the other micronutrients they provide. This makes them ideal for getting a potent, daily dose of the preventative molecules.
2. Greens can reduce blood pressure
There is ample research that shows eating greens and vegetables in general helps keep your heart healthy. Greens powders offer a highly concentrated dose of the vessel-relaxing compounds that vegetables do, which makes them a great supplement for people with high blood pressure. A highly concentrated yet small dose of greens powder (2 tablespoons) per day is associated with an 8% reduction in blood pressure in this study.
While this research isn’t suggesting you give up your blood pressure medicine in favour of simply supplementing greens, it does suggest that there is added benefit from these powders.
3. Boosts your energy levels
There are certain amounts of vitamins like B12 that are necessary for proper energy creation. Naturally they’re highly concentrated in certain foods and the majority of those foods are vegetables and fruits. Algae and wheat grass in particular are full of beneficial B vitamins and these are present as the base in green powders and supplements.
Superfoods like spirulina (an algae), wheat grass and kelp are very nutritionally dense, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat them in their raw state. One particularly abundant vitamin for energy is vitamin C. Look for a supplement that includes the following foods to maximise energy levels:
- Blueberries – also full of antioxidants, blueberries are one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet
- Seaweed and algae – packed with probiotics and phytonutrients, these little plants boost gut health and increase mental alertness
- Spinach – full of potassium and iron, spinach is a great way to sustain energy through blood cell health and electrolyte balance
4. Greens are immune-boosting
The majority of your immune system resides in your gut, where beneficial and harmful bacteria and microflora fight over space. Beneficial bacteria prevent the overgrowth of harmful microorganisms, but only if they’re fed the correct foods.
Probiotics are foods that feed these good bacteria and examples of these are things like:
- High-fibre cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, barley grass, wheat grass, and cabbage
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi
- Microflora like spirulina, chlorella and other algae
When your gut bacteria are fed healthy foods, they flourish. A solid greens powder will feed your gut, making you more resilient to colds and flus as they pass by through the seasons.
Additionally, a large part of your body’s ability to detoxify is hinged on your liver’s health. Free radicals can damage your liver as they can any other organ, and so combating that damage with antioxidants makes your liver function that much more efficiently. Lower levels of toxic products in the blood means a healthier immune system as well.
5. Greens powders can replace other supplements more effectively
If you’re taking a handful of vitamin and mineral pills per day and it’s annoying you, one big benefit of greens supplements is that they functionally replace the majority of other over-the-counter supplements. If you’re taking a multivitamin, for instance, you’re likely to get the same or better levels of nutrition from a greens concentrate.
In addition, the greens supplement will likely work better because of the synergistic effect of the ingredients. When you take a multivitamin, you’re getting nutrients, sure, but they’re by themselves. This is a problem because our bodies aren’t designed to absorb vitamins and mineral in a vacuum. Vitamin C, for instance, is absorbed much more readily and completely when it’s taken with vitamin A and plant-based iron, which occurs naturally in plants.
A whole-foods approach to nutrition is your best bet, but supplements made directly from whole foods are your next best option. In this way, the nutrition boost you get from greens supplements will almost always be better than even the most well-made multivitamins because they’re simply more bio-available.
Understanding the role of veggies and green powders in your diet
So there’s no doubt that you should be eating more vegetables – everyone should. They’re just incredibly beneficial, but you can reap those benefits in a more compact, efficient manner with a supplement.
The antioxidant effects of vegetables and greens provide long-term protection from the foods we eat, workouts we endure and pollution in our daily lives. Complex combinations of vitamins and minerals from whole vegetables provide us stable energy. Greens powders also make getting a complete nutritional compliment that much easier by replacing the poorly designed multivitamins that we’ve been paying for in a much more logical, holistic way.
So supplementing with greens powders is efficient and can provide a potent boost of nutrition, it is worth noting that it’s not a replacement for good old fashioned roughage. Work towards increasing your whole fruits and vegetable intake and use greens to get you the rest of the way to good, long-term health.