By Dr. Mike Roussell
Q: Are greens powders as nutritious as green juices?
A: When deciding whether to drink your greens cold-pressed or powdered, there are important distinctions to keep in mind. Despite their similar names and ingredients, greens powders or supplements are rather different from fresh-pressed green juices, which makes it difficult to determine a clear nutritional winner between the two.
Fresh green juices contain the juices of a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that have been extracted most commonly by cold pressing. Juicing has become an extremely popular way to consume the healthful components of these ingredients in large quantities very quickly. In the cold pressing process, fiber and roughage is stripped out, leaving behind carbohydrates, water, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In a previous piece, I discussed the benefits and drawbacks of juicing. Most importantly, there are no magical health effects of drinking your greens compared to eating them. Also remember that these beverages are not zero calorie.
Thanks to green juices’ recent rise in popularity, there are many commercial pressed juice offerings to choose from. Each manufacturer has their own unique process, but as long as this includes cold pressing fresh fruits and vegetables without exposing the foods to heat, you should not experience any notable degradation in vitamins in green juices. Just make sure to buy from a company that cold presses the juice fresh on-sight or in-store.
The main difference between greens juices and powders is the calories. Greens supplements are the powdered remains of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that have been either freeze- or light-dried, so the end product is essentially calorie-free or very low-calorie. The light drying process seems to be preferable to freeze-drying (if you have the choice), as the freezing process can diminish the content of vitamins like pantothenic acid and folic acid. Additionally, greens supplements will often contain a wider variety of ingredients, as sourcing the ingredients for the supplement isn’t limited to what can be easily pressed and juiced.
Whether you consumer your fruits and veggies in juice or powder form, the main benefit of consuming high amounts of produce is the alkalinizing effect on your diet. Some research suggests that it is important for different aspects of health, such as bone health, to balance the acidic foods in your diet (e.g. grains, protein foods, dairy, and legumes) with alkaline foods (e.g. vegetables and fruits). A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that greens supplements can be an efficient way to tip the acid/base status in your body to an optimal balance. Plus, their ease of use and portability make them a good option for people who travel a lot and have trouble getting in many servings of fruits and vegetables when on the road.
Overall, while both greens supplements or green juices can play a beneficial role in your diet, don’t expect either to make or break your weight-loss or wellness efforts.