When it comes time to decide what to eat or drink, certain criteria like taste, nutritional value, convenience, and so on, go through your head on autopilot. So if you want to boost your vitamin and mineral intake but are short on time or don’t have an appetite for a big bowl of green leaves or hearty vegetable soup (I get it, not everyone loves a mountain of kale or braised carrots). as much as I do), super green powders and tablets can seem like a promising, hassle-free way to squeeze more nutrients into your diet.
All fine – but before you pile these (often pricey) concentrated supplements into your shopping cart, know that there’s one key nutrient they don’t have compared to their full-fledged counterparts. Tip: It is one of the GOATS for digestion but also for heart health, longevity, skin, inflammation and more. In fact, it can only be…fiber.
The Health Benefits of Supergreen Powders
Again, not everyone has the time to go to market, scour the produce aisle, shred and clean produce, and prepare them for eating raw or for cooking, blending, or juicing. Because of this, Supergreen powders are an extremely convenient, one-time solution to getting more greens as quickly as possible scoop, stir and swallow.
Additionally, such concentrated solutions offer a foolproof way to increase your intake of some very important micronutrients on a consistent basis—especially when you wouldn’t be getting them otherwise. “These powders can provide many of the vitamins and minerals that are commonly derived from vegetables,” begins Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN, nutritionist at testing.com. “For people who struggle to get enough vegetables each day, a purity-tested product can allow them to get enough micronutrients.”
And while certain super green powders contain up to dozens of these vitamins and minerals, they’re generally low in fiber — if they contain any at all.
Why super green powders are not a good source of fiber
There are countless reasons why nutritionists and other health professionals always recommend getting the majority of your nutrient intake from fresh, whole foods. And with supergreens in particular (as well as other fruits and vegetables), fiber-specific considerations are high on the list.
“Supergreen powders are typically low in fiber, like that [process of] Nutrient extraction breaks down or removes the fiber element that you would normally get from natural plant sources,” says Hotz. While vitamins and minerals are preserved during extraction and eventually have a second life in powder or tablet form, the same cannot be said for fiber. (Unfortunately, the same fate applies to fiber in your favorite cold-pressed and centrifugal products green juicesalthough smoothies may offer higher amounts if the final mix includes the fibrous pulp and/or skin of a specific fruit or vegetable.)
“For that reason, while super green powders have their merits, I wouldn’t say they’re the best option if a person is looking for help with digestion or gut health,” says Hotz.
The health benefits of fiber intake
Though fiber doesn’t have a reputation for being one of the “sexy” nutrients in the wellness world (partially blame the thick, less-than-tasty fiber supplements of yesteryear and a now-obsolete reluctance to get poetic). Beauty of a healthy bowel movement), its advantages should not be underestimated.
First off, fiber is a proven hero when it comes to aiding digestion and better gut health. “Fiber fuels our healthy gut bacteria, bulking up stool to minimize diarrhea and helping slow digestion enough to aid further absorption,” says Hotz. “It also helps bind to ‘bad cholesterol’ and remove it from our systems, and lower levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Additionally, higher fiber intake is associated with a number of additional health benefits that go well beyond gut and heart health. In fact, a study was published in The Journals of Gerontology in October 2016 found that among 1,600 healthy adults over the age of 49, those who ate a high-fiber diet over a decade had a greater chance of successfully aging than groups who consumed less fiber. Markers of successful aging included “absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory problems, and chronic disease,” including cancer. In other words, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet if you want to increase your chances of getting a clean bill of health for years to come.
How Much Fiber You Need (And Where To Find It)
according to a 2021 Report of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) — which compiles data from nearly 15,000 participants over a five-year period — only seven percent of adults in the United States are meeting their RDA for fiber…which is exactly where?
“Women should aim for about 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams per day,” says Hotz. However, recommended intakes vary a little between different sources — for example, the ASN lists 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed as another general guideline to follow. In any case, it’s clear that most of us should do well to take extra care to replenish our diet — and bowel movements — with this excess, underconsumed nutrient. (Just note that you want to Slowly increase your intake To avoid causing or worsening GI discomfort and drinking plenty of water to *keep things moving (Considers.)
In summary, super green powders may benefit your diet and lifestyle in some ways, but they lack the fiber necessary to help you achieve a broader range of benefits — digestive and otherwise. For this reason, be sure to include more fibrous, plant-based foods in your rotation alongside consuming these supplements. “Some of the best sources of fiber are fruits and vegetables [in their whole forms], whole grain products, nuts and seeds,” says Hotz. Need more inspiration? She goes on to say that you can get creative with increasing your fiber intake by “baking a rich oatmeal overnight, making your own grain shells, or adding seeds (eg. chia or flax) into a smoothie.”