Your supergreen powders may be missing this key nutrient

When it’s time to decide what to eat or drink, certain criteria such as taste, nutritional content, convenience, etc. tend to run through your mind on autopilot. That said, if you want to increase your vitamin and mineral intake but are short on time or lack the appetite for a big bowl of leafy green goodness or a hearty vegetable soup (I get it, not everyone loves a mountain of kale or stewed carrots). (as much as I do), supergreen powders and pills can seem like a promising and effortless way to squeeze more nutrients into your diet.

all well, but before you pile those (often expensive) concentrated dietary supplements into your shopping cart, you should know that there’s one key nutrient they’re lacking compared to their whole-food counterparts. Hint: It is one of the GOATS for digestion, but also 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 the market, walk down the produce aisle, cut and clean pounds of produce and prepare it to be eaten raw or cooked, blended, or juiced. For this reason, super green powders are a very convenient and unique solution to get more greens as quickly as you can say remove, stir and swallow.

Plus, these concentrated solutions offer a surefire way to consistently increase your intake of some very important micronutrients, especially if you’re not getting them otherwise. “These powders can provide many of the vitamins and minerals typically obtained from vegetables,” begins Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN, nutrition expert at Testing.com. “For people who struggle to consume enough vegetables each day, a product tested with purity can allow them to consume enough micronutrients.”

And while certain supergreen powders contain up to dozens of these vitamins and minerals, they’re generally low in fiber, if at all.

Why supergreen powders are not a good source of fiber

There are countless reasons why dietitians and other health experts always suggest getting most of your nutrient intake from fresh, whole foods. And when it comes to supergreens (as well as other fruits and vegetables) in particular, specific fiber considerations are at the top of the list.

“Supergreen powders are usually low in fiber, like [process of] Nutrient extraction breaks down or removes the element of fiber that you would normally get from natural plant sources,” says Hotz. Although the vitamins and minerals are retained in the extraction process and ultimately live a second life in powders or tablets, the same cannot be said for fiber.(Unfortunately, the same fate of fiber applies to your favorite cold press and spin green juices(although smoothies may offer higher amounts if the final blend contains the fibrous pulp and/or skin of a particular fruit or vegetable.)

“For this reason, while supergreen powders have their merits, I wouldn’t say they’re the best choice if a person is looking for help with digestion or gut health,” Hotz says.

The health benefits of fiber intake

While fiber may not have the reputation of being among the “sexiest” nutrients in the wellness world (blame it in part on the chunky, less-than-tasty fiber supplements of yesteryear and a now-obsolete reluctance to wax poetic about it beauty of healthy bowel movements), its benefits cannot be underestimated.

For starters, fiber is a proven hero when it comes to supporting digestion and better gut health. “Fiber feeds our healthy gut bacteria, bulks up stool to minimize diarrhea, and helps slow down digestion enough to aid in greater absorption,” Hotz says. “It also helps bind ‘bad cholesterol’ and flush it out of our systems, and lower amounts of LDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

In addition, higher fiber intake is linked to a number of additional health benefits beyond gut and heart health. In fact, a study published in Journals of Gerontology in October 2016 found that among 1,600 healthy adults over age 49, those who consumed high-fiber diets over a decade were more likely to age successfully compared to groups who consumed less fiber. Markers of successful aging include “the absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic disease,” including cancer. In other words, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet if you want to increase your odds of a clean bill of health in the years to come.

How much fiber do you need (and where to find it)

According to 2021 Report of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), which aggregated data from nearly 15,000 participants over five years, only seven percent of U.S. adults meet their recommended daily intake of fiber… what exactly is where?

“Women should aim for 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams per day,” says Hotz. However, the recommended intake varies somewhat from different sources; for example, the ASN cites 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed as another general guideline to consider. In any case, it’s clear that most of us would be wise to take special care to supplement our diets and stools with this under-consumed nutrient. (Just keep in mind that you’ll want to slowly increase your intake in order to avoid causing or exacerbating gastrointestinal distress, and drink plenty of water during the process to *move forward.* Also, if you currently suffer from chronic digestive issues, consult a trusted health professional to find the best specific diet plan for you your concerns.)

In short, supergreen powders may benefit your diet and lifestyle in some ways, but they lack the fiber needed to help you get a wider range of benefits, digestive and otherwise. For this reason, be careful to add more fibrous and plant-based foods to your rotation along with consuming these supplements. “Some of the best sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables [in their whole forms]whole grains, nuts, and seeds,” Hotz shares. Need more info? She goes on to say that you can get creative with increasing your fiber intake by “baking a bowl of overnight oats, making your own grain bowls, or adding then (eg chia or flax) in a smoothie.”

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