Face it: you’re not eating enough fruit and vegetables, and you certainly aren’t getting enough variety. Greens powder is your backup plan – throw it in a shake once a day and rest easy.
What is it?
Vegetables, fruits, algae and grasses smashed into powder form, often including things you’d otherwise be loath to include in your diet such as wheatgrass, spirulina, alfalfa and the like. Think of it as a backup for when you’re not hitting your five-a-day, which isn’t just government nannying – it’s the baseline for protecting yourself against cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and a host of other problems. Greens powder can also help to counteract the acidic effect of all the protein you’re eating.
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Which do I choose?
Every product has its own formula and there’s no substitute for reading the label carefully. Nutritionist and creator of lunchboxdoctor.com Jenny Tschiesche recommends keeping an eye out for the following.
- Greens. “This should come from natural sources such as kale, spinach, parsley and broccoli.”
- Algae or seaweed. “Spirulina and chlorella should ideally be on the label.”
- Grasses. “That means wheat, barley, alfalfa and dandelion.”
- Digestive enzymes. “These support your body’s own enzymes in breaking down the food you eat and extracting the nutrients.”
- Fibre. “To maintain optimal gut health.”
- Antioxidants. “These will provide a boost to the immune system.”
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How do I take it?
You can drink it straight, but it isn’t always the best-tasting solo drink. “Greens powders are best consumed mixed into a low-sugar smoothie or vegetable juice,” says Tschiesche.
“Usually 1tbsp a day is sufficient additional nutrition. An ideal combination would be frozen banana, frozen spinach, fresh or frozen berries, almond milk, super greens powders, ground flaxseeds and ground cinnamon. These ingredients should be combined in a food processor, smoothie maker or NutriBullet.”
We’re fans of blending it into a shake with protein, yogurt (or kefir), a spoonful of nut butter and a banana or handful of berries for a morning blast of all-round nutritional power.
The only time not to take it is immediately after a workout, when it will disrupt the process of inflammation and oxidation that aids recovery.
Can I stop eating vegetables now?
We asked sports nutrition expert Ross Edgley and the short answer: no. Research and experience shows that we should eat our nutrients as nature packaged them. For instance, a study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that having fruit in liquid form can dramatically change how your body processes it. But we all know it’s hard to consume enough fruit and veg to get all the micronutrients we need – not to mention expensive – so why ignore something that would help?
The bottom line
Don’t think a supplement can replace actual broccoli and green beans, but since few of us eat the variety of green vegetables we should, greens powder is useful as a top up.