MF nutrition EXPERT Can supergreens replace my five a day?
They’re a quick and easy way to get lots of nutrients – but do they make broccoli redundant?
Ross Edgley is a fitness and sports nutrition expert. A former strength and conditioning coach at the English Institute of Sport, he’s the co-founder of nutrition company The Protein Works.
veryone agrees: five a day is barely enough. In Denmark, the recommended dose of fruit and veg is six, in France it’s ten, in Japan it’s a staggering (though smaller-portioned) 17 – and yet here you are, struggling to manage a portion of broccoli and an apple. So if one supplement could offer you all the nutrients you need, you should go for it – right?
Enter supergreens. These are essentially nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, dried, processed, filtered and refined into a mixable powder that’s easy to consume. Typically, they contain well-researched vegetables such as spirulina, wheatgrass, spinach, kale and broccoli. Recently, though, more exotic additions have included acerola berries and matcha green tea.
The key effect supergreens have is on your immune system, which is weakened when exposed to periods of heavy, hard training. Studies at the University of Queensland, for instance, found that intensive exercise altered a number of immune factors including white blood cells, which help to protect the body against micro-organisms causing disease. Supergreens will support this, as well as providing other micronutrients needed by the body – not just vitamins and minerals, but enzymes, phytonutrients and more.
Research has not shown any specific nutrient window for supergreens. Many people swear by taking them in the morning, which is fine, though evidence suggests any benefit of a morning dose is psychological. It’s also fine to take them daily – you don’t have to cycle their usage (take them for a while, then take a break), as some experts say you should with, say, creatine. Supergreens can and should be a regular fixture in your diet.
But can they ever replace vegetables altogether? Short answer: no. Research and experience shows that we should eat our nutrients as nature packaged them. For instance, a study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that having fruit in liquid form can dramatically change how your body processes it. But we all know it’s hard to consume enough fruit and veg to get all the micronutrients we need – not to mention expensive – so why ignore something that would help?
Ultimately, it’s about having a measured approach to your consumption of both. In other words, it’s worth supplementing with supergreens – but you still have to eat your broccoli. For more visit theproteinworks.com