Many people dislike eating fresh fruits and vegetables and prefer the convenience that fruit and vegetable supplements offer. However, before you go shopping for your next pack, you need to be sure whether these supplements are worth of your money. In other words, do they work, and should they replace your standard fruits and vegetables?
Fruit and vegetable supplements work as they supply you with nutrients that your body might not have access to or have enough of. However, to meet your nutritional needs, you need a diet rich in whole foods as supplements can’t duplicate all the dietary benefits that such foods provide.
This article will explore whether fruit and vegetable supplements work and how they compare to fresh produce. We will also look at who needs these supplements, how to choose, and how to use them. For more information about these issues and more on this topic, read further.
Are Fruit and Vegetable Supplements Beneficial?
A balanced diet includes fruits and vegetables. As such, a healthy diet provides you with all the nutrients your body needs. Is there any need then for fruit and vegetable supplements?
Dietary supplements like greens powders and multivitamins help you reach your daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake. They contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and offer an easy and convenient way to boost your nutrition.
It’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements. They may contain much higher and, at times, lower levels of some nutrients than recommended.
Apart from leafy greens and vegetables, high-antioxidant fruits and herbs, super greens powders contain other varied ingredients such as:
- Grasses such as wheatgrass and alfalfa grass
- Nutritional extracts like green tea or Ginkgo biloba extracts
- Plant-derived digestive enzymes, including amylase and cellulase
The above ingredients are either extracted whole, dried and ground into powder, or juiced and dehydrated. Sprouting or fermentation is popular too, as it enhances vitamin levels and breaks down compounds that might hinder mineral absorption.
Super Greens powders are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, K, selenium, iodine, and plant compounds featuring antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They may also support general wellness when combined with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Multivitamins consist of various vitamins and minerals, and different brands have varied nutrient compositions.
Fruit and Vegetable Supplements vs. Whole Foods
Compared to fruit and vegetable supplements, fresh fruits and vegetables provide you with the following unmatched benefits:
- Help satisfy hunger, provide balanced nutrients, and lower your exposure to harmful contaminants.
- Provide dietary fiber, which helps to manage constipation, prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Consuming fiber from fresh produce encourages the absorption of high quantities of enzymes, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
- Contain antioxidants that slow down cell and tissue damage.
- When consumed as part of a regular diet, fruits and vegetables help lower cancer risk, cataracts, and functional declines related to aging.
Are Fruit and Vegetable Supplements Necessary?
Fruit and vegetable supplements are composed of purified isolated phytochemicals. The question is, do these phytochemicals provide health benefits similar to those from whole fruits and vegetables?
Tests performed on dietary supplements show that they may help boost your immunity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. However, the research is limited, unclear, and results tend to vary by brand and formulation. Besides, product manufacturers are behind these studies, which could lead to biases.
Incidentally, researchers note the difficulty in determining whether fruits and vegetable supplements directly impact improved health. This is because a majority of the people who consume them lead very healthy lifestyles.
Ultimately, taking fruit and vegetable supplements is not equal to eating fresh produce. Besides, the benefits derived from a bunch of whole fruits and vegetables cannot be distilled into a single pill.
Who Needs Fruit and Vegetable Supplements?
According to a CDC report, 87% of Americans don’t meet the daily recommended amounts for fruit consumption, and 91% for vegetable consumption. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that 77% of the American population takes dietary supplements, as reported by a 2019 consumer survey.
Fruit and vegetable supplements are excellent for boosting your nutrient intake if you dislike the taste of vegetables or lack access to fresh produce. Many people also take them to boost their health and prevent chronic diseases.
Also, you may need fruit and vegetable supplements if you identify with the below. You are:
- Pregnant and need iron
- Very busy and unable to make time to create healthy, balanced meals
- Concerned that you don’t eat a wide variety of fresh produce to obtain the required amounts of essential nutrients
- 50+ years old and require foods fortified with vitamin B-12 for optimal energy
- Postmenopausal and supplementing with calcium might help increase bone density
Always check with a certified nutritionist which supplements to take and their appropriate dosage.
Furthermore, if you’re on medication, it’s advisable to confirm whether there might be any side effects or interactions.
Disadvantages of Fruit and Vegetable Supplements
Below are some of the disadvantages of taking fruit and vegetable supplements:
- Some products contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, which might cause you to exceed the tolerable limits or expose you to the risk of toxicity.
- Unlike whole fruits and vegetables, super greens supplements are low in fiber, unappealing in look and taste, and may contain contaminants like lead.
- They are more expensive than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Some supplements restrict children, pregnant or lactating women, and people on medication from using them. This is because they contain certain herbs and extracts that might expose them to potential risks or interactions.
- Some high-dose antioxidant supplements may pose certain health risks.
- For smokers, supplements containing high amounts of beta-carotene might increase their risk of lung cancer.
- Some supplements might not have all the nutrients listed on their labels, so ensure that you buy your products from reputable manufacturers.
- Studies conducted on these supplements reveal that their antioxidants lack the consistent preventative effects offered by whole fruits and vegetables.
- They lack strong scientific evidence and backing.
Given the above negative factors, it’s best to consult your doctor before using these supplements.
How to Choose and Use Fruit and Vegetable Supplements
When buying and taking fruit and vegetable supplements, follow the guidelines below:
- Opt for certified organic supplements that provide information on how they source their products.
- Check the nutrition label for information on the serving size, calories per serving, and nutrients provided.
- Avoid products that claim to cure all ailments or make unrealistic promises.
- Consult your health care provider regarding possible contraindications with prescription medications.
- Avoid exceeding your limit. Foods like breakfast cereals contain additional vitamins, so you may take more nutrients than you need if consuming supplements. This is not only costly, but it can be harmful to your health.
- Lookout for FDA updates on supplements with adverse side effects
- Get supplements tailored to your age, gender, and circumstances like pregnancy.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the increased uptake of more nutrient-rich foods. Therefore, adults need to eat a minimum of 1½ – 2 cups of fruit and 2 – 3 cups of vegetables every day. Consuming a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet is the ideal way to:
- Boost your health
- Attain nutritional balance
- Avoid excesses of certain nutrients
It will also save you money. Alternatively, you can blend whole fruits and vegetables to make delicious smoothies.
Furthermore, whole fruits and vegetables provide you with the pleasure of chewing and high water content. These aspects promote a feeling of satiety, keep hunger pangs at bay, and help prevent overeating.
While fruit and vegetable supplements may provide vital nutrients, antioxidants, and support cardiovascular health, you shouldn’t consider them a quick diet fix. Therefore, these dietary supplements should not be a replacement for unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
- Healthline: SuperGreens: Are Greens Powders Healthy?
- Healthline: Juice+ Review: Do These Supplements Really Work?
- CDC: Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
- CMUSA: Dietary Supplement Use Reaches All Time High
- Fruits and Veggies: Key Nutrients in Fruits and Vegetables
- Mayo Clinic: Supplements: Nutrition in a Pill?
- ChooseMyPlate: All About The Vegetable Group
- ChooseMyPlate: All About The Fruit Group
- ConsumerLab: ConsumerLab Finds Lead, Cadmium, and Arsenic Contamination. ..
- Precision Nutrition: All About Greens Supplements
- Free Dieting: Do Fruits and Vegetable Pills Work?
- Healthcare – Utah: Do Those Supplements Actually Work?
- PubMed: The Effect of Vitamin E and Betacarotene on the Incidence of Lung Cancer
- Very Well Fit: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements – Health Professional Fact Sheet