Current health guidelines recommend that adults eat at least two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. These are the amounts that health experts have determined are optimal for good overall health.
Unfortunately, the average American falls far short of that recommendation. According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about one in 10 adults manage it. The average American consumes only 0.9 cups of fruit and 1.4 cups of vegetables per day.
It’s not like we’re not trying. Many of us are trying to make better choices about our diets, but just find ourselves too busy to meet the recommendations as often as we should.
Enter fruit and vegetable powders. Fast, convenient, and capable of being mixed into a wide variety of foods and beverages, they just might be the answer to getting the recommended daily intake of the nutrients we need from these healthy foods.
What are Veggie and Fruit Powders?
Fruit and vegetable powders—sometimes called “green” powders or superfood powders—are made of ground, dehydrated (dried) fruits and vegetables. Often the original food is freeze-dried and then ground into a fine powder.
Some companies, though, may extract the juice from the original foods, dry it, and then crush it into a powder. Or, a company may combine both whole-food and juice raw ingredients. Juice tends to be sweeter than whole foods and may make the final powdered product taste better.
While green powders typically include a variety of vegetables, fruit powders usually only contain one type of fruit, though they may contain a combination as well. Some of today’s powders on the market contain both fruits and vegetables.
Are Fruit and Veggie Powders as Healthy as Whole Foods?
When fruits and vegetables are processed this way, they may retain nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but they will lose their fiber. The fiber content in these foods is what makes them satisfying—helping to curb cravings—and can also improve digestion, among other health benefits. Some manufactures may add fiber back in. You can check for this on the nutrition facts label.
Whole fruits and vegetables are also hydrating. Many have as much as 90 percent water in them, which can contribute to your daily fluid intake. Powders are lacking this hydrating effect.
The body processes powder supplements differently than it does fresh fruits and vegetables too, so it’s always better to eat the whole food when you can. Powders can be used when you’re on the go to help fill in the gaps your regular diet leaves behind, but should not be relied upon to fulfill your regular fruit-and-vegetable intake.
Do Veggie and Fruit Powders Retain Their Nutrients?
Independent laboratory Consumer Labs tested several of these powders in 2016 and found they contained a variety of nutrients including carotenoids, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
The nutrition content in fruit and veggie powders will vary depending on the whole foods themselves and the process the company uses to produce the powder. But in general, you’ll receive many of the same vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that were in the original food. These could help add to your daily nutrient intake and may also help provide other health benefits associated with fruits and vegetables as well.
Are Fruit and Veggie Powders Good for You?
We don’t have a lot of studies on these powders yet, but in those that have been completed so far, the results look promising.
In 2011, for instance, researchers had 10 participants take two tablespoons of green powder a day for four weeks. As a result, they all experienced a nearly 30 percent reduction in proteins showing oxidative damage—suggesting that the powder helped increase antioxidant protection.
Another small study of 40 people found that intake of green powder for 90 days helped lower blood pressure levels by 8 percent. In an experiment with 63 women, those consuming green powder scored higher on vitality and energy than those in the control group.
Some manufacturers include other ingredients in their powders to encourage specific benefits. If the powder contains probiotics, for instance, it may help improve digestion or immunity. If it includes energizing herbs like ginseng, it may help you feel more energy throughout the day. If it includes turmeric, it may help ease inflammation.
How to Use Veggie and Fruit Powders
One of the nice things about powders is that they’re so versatile. Depending on how they’re made, they may be added to any smoothie, sauce, juice, dressing, dip, soup, or dessert, giving you the benefit of additional nutrients on the go.
Do be cautious when making your purchases. Look for those powders that avoid artificial sweeteners and dyes, and make sure you’re choosing from a reputable company. In the Consumer Lab study mentioned above, one of the products tested was found to be contaminated with lead.
In short, veggie and fruit powders can be an excellent way to add some essential vitamins and minerals to your diet. They’re also versatile as you can add them to smoothies and sprinkle them on salads and other foods. While they shouldn’t take the place of consuming whole fruits and vegetables, they can help you meet your daily nutritional goals—but make sure that you’re purchasing your fruit and veggie powders from a reputable source to ensure quality.