Here’s one easy way to fit them in.
Nutrition can be surprisingly polarizing. Athletes, gym rats, bloggers, and even doctors join food camps that more resemble the combative state of our current political climate than a branch of science. There is one thing, though, that everyone agrees on: We should all eat more vegetables.
Vegetable intake, and to a lesser extent, fruit, is the one aspect of nutrition that vegans, carnivores, keto, clean eaters, and everyone in between, believes in. And yet, Americans fail miserably when it comes to eating enough produce. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that just one in 10 Americans eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. To make matters worse, the CDC only recommends five servings a day, while the American Heart Association and independent studies have found that eight or nine servings a day is the sweet spot for optimal health. To top it off, the CDC widens the goal by recognizing potatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes as vegetables, when any fit person knows these are best categorized as starches (carbs) rather than vegetables.
The issue is not information. Everyone knows vegetables are a building block of good health. Even the guy who counts ketchup on French fries as two servings of veggies will say he knows he should be doing better. Still, the evidence is pretty staggering. One study showed that a high daily intake of fruits and vegetables (seven or more servings, in this case) had a significant decrease in all-cause mortality. That means that people who ate a lot of produce simply lived longer. The major reductions were in cancer and cardiovascular disease, but it reduced all forms of death whether it was from diabetes or traffic accidents.
How to Hack Your Vegetables
So why don’t people eat more vegetables? One word: convenience. Vegetables are decidedly inconvenient, You have to buy them at the right time, they don’t stay fresh long, and they take a little know-how when it comes to preparing them in interesting ways. Most of all, they don’t serve them in any fast food drive-thrus.
One very convenient way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet is to incorporate a superfood powder. Sometimes called a green powder (or red powder, depending on the ingredients), these are made by drying nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and grinding them into a soluble powder. Users simply mix a serving in some water or a protein shake. Greens are typically made of kale, spinach, broccoli, spirulina and barley grass. Red formulations usually contain beets, berries, acai, cherries and other red, blue, or purple species. Quality products will often add digestive enzymes and probiotics.
Green and red powders have been around long enough that several clinical studies have been published about their effectiveness. One study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, looked at the effects of these powdered greens on weight-trained men. After several weeks of supplementing, the subjects who consumed the powder experienced beneficial effects on indicators of oxidative stress, immunity, and illness. An animal study found that mice who were given this type of vegetable powder lost body weight and voluntarily reduced their food consumption. Health markers such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose levels also improved. Other research has shown that vegetable powders have a beneficial impact on vascular health, inflammation, blood pressure, and even dental health.
Green and red powders should never replace vegetables in a diet. But well-rounded formulas that source a diverse array of produce can add value to any diet, even one that is loaded with vegetables. And on those difficult days when produce is hard to find, these powders can be a quick and easy way to get in some valuable greens and reds.