We’ve been told to “eat the rainbow” to achieve well-balanced nutrition, but it turns out concentrating on one particular shade can really color your life with good health and happiness.
Yes, we mean greens. Kale, spinach and chard. Wheat grass, matcha, spirulina and more. Experts tell us to eat them, drink them, plant them and love them for all of their vitamin-packed power. But with so many options for whole veggies, super green vitamins and supplement powders, what’s the best—and easiest—way to incorporate glorious greens into your diet?
“For normal, healthy people without certain conditions or digestive symptoms, greens should be the base of the diet,” says Caroline Fornshell, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and owner of LWell in Williamsburg. “I aim for about at least a pound of greens daily when they are in season.”
In Coastal Virginia, they are plentiful and in season now, during spring, but according to the CDC, only 1 in 10 adults gets enough fruits or vegetables at all, let alone a pound of greens per day.
It can be difficult to stomach large amounts of raw veggies, so that’s why Kelsey Sanders, co-owner of Free Range Juice in Williamsburg, says her customers benefit from adding greens into their cold-pressed juices and smoothies.
“For people who don’t like the taste of vegetables, blending greens into a smoothie is a great way to get greens into your system,” she says. “One of the amazing benefits of cold-pressed juice is that it preserves the maximum amount of liquid from the fruits and vegetables, providing drinkers with easily digestible vitamins, minerals and enzymes from the produce.”
Sanders notes that one of their most popular cold-pressed juices, Free to Be Real, incorporates the super green kale and hydrating cucumber with pineapple, pear, jalapeño and ginger for a nutrient-packed beverage. Another customer-favorite is the Free to Be Epic smoothie with leafy green spinach, fruits, avocado, mint and one of their cold-pressed juices as a base.
While they focus mainly on whole greens at Free Range Juice, with so many Americans not eating enough veggies, Sanders says they also suggest green powders as a helpful addition to a smoothie or juice.
“Our focus is on using the whole fruits and vegetables with powders serving as a boost,” she says. “There are a huge number of powders and supplements out there, so finding one that meets your specific needs and nutrient deficiencies is important.”
At Free Range Juice, green powder options include spirulina—a type of blue-green algae with protein, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, copper and iron—and Blue Majik, a proprietary extract of spirulina created by E3Live known for its vibrant blue color and said to promote increased energy, support of healthy inflammation responses after exercise and support of healthy joints.
Click here for Free Range Juice’s Free to Be Green juice recipe.
“A ‘marine source’ of greens (like spirulina or chlorella) is especially nutrient-dense, so looking for either of those on the label is a good option,” says Sanders. “Grasses and fermented greens are other great options.”Fornshell reminds her clients that while green powers and super green vitamin supplements are useful, they shouldn’t rely on them. She says consumers should only consider adding them into their diet if they are not meeting goals.
“I like to eat real food, and nothing beats fresh, local, organic food,” she says. “So, try to put more energy into eating real food and less energy into finding that supplement. I like a wonderful mix of fresh, frozen, cooked and raw. My current obsession is grilled cabbage. I slice it into steaks, spray with a little coconut oil spray, throw it on the grill and sprinkle it with a little curry powder.”
No matter how you decide to go green, you can’t really go wrong. Start small and gradually work your way up to that pound per day.
“We recommend having greens with every meal, even if just in small ways like adding a small leafy green like a cilantro, mint or thyme to a recipe or putting a handful of spinach in your smoothie,” says Sanders. “Greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are essential to our well-being, low in calories and offer numerous health benefits.”