To Juice or Not To Juice: Green Superfood Drinks for Maximum Nutrition
Written By Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS
"You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency." – Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner
One of the greatest nutritional impacts you can make on your health is to increase your daily intake of fresh green vegetables. In 2006, results of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey showed that 60% of the American population (including children) were consuming under the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day. On average, American children are eating about 80% of the recommended fruit servings per day (mostly in fruit juice), but only 25% of the recommended vegetable servings per day. Low intakes of fruits and vegetables, along with high intakes of total fat and saturated fat, are associated with inadequate amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.
Low green vegetable consumption is associated with heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, ADHD, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, metabolic syndrome, sugar cravings, sexually transmitted diseases, small birth weight babies, periodontal disease, addictions, excess estrogen and more. Research shows that by increasing the intake of Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens and broccoli, one can reduce their risk of America’s biggest killer - the incidence of heart attack or stroke - by a whopping 20%. It is recommended that the American public focus on dark green and orange vegetables and legumes when increasing their intake of vegetables overall.
Why Doesn't Everyone Eat Enough Greens?
While most people know they need to eat plenty of greens, the majority are not doing it. One study examined the characteristics and dietary behaviors (e.g. consumption of fruits, vegetables, fast food) of 1,201 young adults who reported placing low, moderate, or high importance on healthy alternative food production practices. In this large study, half of the young adults placed moderate-to-high importance on healthy, alternative food production practices (such as local, biodynamic and organic farming options). Young adults who placed high importance on healthy alternative production practices consumed 1.3 more servings of fruits and vegetables, more dietary fiber, fewer added sugars, fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and less fat than those who placed low importance on these practices. Young adults who placed high importance on alternative food production practices also consumed breakfast approximately 1 more day per week, and consumed fast food half as often as those who placed low importance on these practices. Study findings suggest that nutrition messaging around social and environmental implications of food production practices may be well received by this age group. Experimental studies are needed to investigate whether attitudes toward alternative production practices can be manipulated to improve dietary quality.
Population health research has shown that we need to eat nine servings of vegetables per day in order to have a long and healthy life, free of chronic disease. It has also been suggested that upwards of 13 servings of fruits and veggies daily are required to obtain all essential nutrition from one’s food. Consuming high servings of vegetables seems unobtainable for many people for a variety of reasons, including limited access, priority, affordability, cooking ability, preference, and convenience.
Easy & Simple Methods to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
In the last few years, juicing and blending have become a trend, mostly because they allow you to consume numerous fruits and veggies in one sitting. While both juicing and blending have their pros and cons, overall, blending is a better option. Both juicing and blending allow the consumer to increase their number of green vegetable servings but, with the exception of detox, blending is clearly the better option when compared to juicing because the overall nutrition is enhanced with less sugar, and the entire vegetable is included in the mix. Juicing, which disposes of the fiber, requires more servings to create volume, therefore, while it increases nutrient levels, sugar levels tend to be higher than ideal for most people.
|• High fiber content is filling and has zero calories
||• Overall vitamin level lower than fresh juice
|• Promotes regularity and healthy digestion
||• Requires a high-powered blender in order to mix ingredients
|• Contains less sugar and has a lower glycemic index
||• Expense and availability of fresh organic produce
|• Provides enzymes to aid digestion
||• Variety may be lacking
|• Can be mixed with protein and fat to become a complete meal
The Benefits of a Green Superfood Powder
Green superfood powders are popular because they solve a few difficulties involved with fresh juices and smoothies -
- They provide 2-3 servings of concentrated green food per serving
- They include a combination of several vegetables and algae that might be unaffordable or unavailable to people
- They are freeze-dried for maximum freshness as well as longer shelf-life.
Ingredient's in a Superior Green Superfood Powder
Spirulina: Blue-green algae are used as a source of dietary protein, B-Vitamins, and iron. Spirulina was shown to help type-2 diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. One small study observed that diabetics’ blood sugar improved over a two month period after taking the supplement. Spirulina supplementation also lowered serum triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad”) while increasing HDL cholesterol (“good”).†
Organic Barley Grass: The juice of barley grass contains beta carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Minerals present include potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Other constituents are chlorophyll, amino acids, protein, fiber, and enzymes. Barley leaf extract has antioxidant activity, meaning it has the ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammation.†
Chlorella: There are numerous unique health benefits for chlorella because it is a good source of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. Chlorella is used to increase "good" bacteria in the intestine in order to improve digestion. Some individuals use chlorella for the prevention of constipation, bad breath, and hypertension. It can also be used as an antioxidant, to support healthy cholesterol levels, and to help support high-energy and detoxification.†
Wheat Grass Juice Powder has a concentrated source of nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, and Amino Acids.Wheat grass is used for increasing production of hemoglobin, the chemical in red blood cells that carries oxygen. This helps to support healthy blood sugar levels, oral health. and immunity. It is also used for as free radical scavenger - removing harmful deposits of heavy metals and toxins from the liver and blood.†
Aloe Vera Leaf Powder has a long history of household and traditional use. It is a popular herb used in traditional Indian medicine for constipation, immunity and skin care. It is also used on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to support healthy blood pressure and among Mexican-Americans to support healthy blood sugar levels. In the United States, Aloe vera is found in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Its therapeutic benefits - both topical and oral - have been shown to have numerous benefits for the skin, wound healing, constipation and other digestive tract ailments.†
While scientific research has not decided if it is actually possible to acquire all our essential vitamins and minerals from our diet, maximizing the mineral-rich nutritional content of your diet by including sea vegetables such as Spirulina, Chlorella, Kelp and sprouted cereal grasses is definitely a good idea for your overall health. If it is indeed possible to eat 13 servings of fruits and veggies on a daily basis, blending freeze-dried veggies with fresh fruits and veggies is a great option. If you are diabetic, be aware of how much fruit juice and servings of fruit you’re consuming at once. Make sure you are blending a maximum of 2 servings at a time, and go for blended veggies more than fruits. If you are relying on juice for your fruit, then realize 1/3 cup is a serving, or 2.5 ounces, rather than 8 ounces that people generally consider a serving of juice.
- J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Sep;106(9):1371-9. Most Americans eat much less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Guenther PM, Dodd KW, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. 2006 Sep;106(9):1371-9.
- J Am BMC Public Health. Watch me grow: a garden-based pilot intervention to increase vegetable and fruit intake in preschoolers. Namenek Brouwer RJ, Benjamin Neelon SE. 2013 Apr 18;13:363.
- Coll Nutr. Fruit and vegetable intake in young children. Dennison BA, Rockwell HL, Baker SL. 1998 Aug;17(4):371-8.
- Ugeskr Laeger. [Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of ischemic heart disease]. 2005 Jun 20;167(25-31):2742-7.
- J Acad Nutr Diet. Positive attitudes toward organic, local, and sustainable foods are associated with higher dietary quality among young adults. Pelletier JE, Laska MN, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M. 2013 Jan;113(1):127-32.
- Parikh P, Mani U, Iyer U.Role of Spirulina in the Control of Glycemia and Lipidemia in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Med Food. 2001 Winter;4(4):193-199.
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 3: Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera. Meika Foster, Duncan Hunter, and Samir Samman.
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