“Eat more greens” used to be a simple directive, but these days, there are lots of ways to get your daily dose of kale.
When we tapped our virtual Rolodex of nutritionists to ask them which is best, they all joined in a resounding chorus of “Eat them whole!” We know, we know.
But everyone has days when they’re just too busy to make a salad or when fresh veggies are nowhere to be found. Even on good days, it’s hard to fit in all of those servings, so it’s often nice to supplement with a cold-pressed juice or a greens powder packet.
But, just how virtuous are we being, we wondered? And how does green juice stack up against green powder?
We sorted through the nutritional facts—and assumptions—with help from superstar nutritionists, and came away with some surprising findings. Here’s what you need to know…
ABSORPTION OF NUTRIENTS
Drinking fresh juice is like giving yourself a nutrient shot. Since the veggies are partially digested, your body can soak them up quickly.
“The fibrous parts of the plants have been removed, and the cell walls are broken down allowing the enzymes that our bodies produce to easily act on these nutrients,” says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietican and founder of Real Nutrition NYC.
Your body should also easily process fine powders, although studies have shown that they may not retain some of the important enzymes needed for absorption. Some brands say their process has effectively preserved them, but there’s really no way to confirm this claim.
Veggies are fabulously fibrous, but breaking them down into powder or juice can ruin that.
“Green powders have minimal, if any, fiber because the amount of the product consumed is so small and concentrated,” says Shapiro, so you shouldn’t really consider powders a source for fiber. (Amazing Grass Green Superfood, for example, has just 2 grams per serving.)
Juices that are cold-pressed or made using traditional centrifugal juicers are mostly stripped of their fiber. But there’s a way to hold onto some pulp if you’re juicing at home.
On the other hand, “blenders like the Vitamix pulverize the greens [and don’t remove any of the pulp], so you get your juice but keep the fiber,” explains Brooke Kalanick, a naturopathic doctor and co-author of Ultimate You.