Is It Cheating (and Less Nutritious) If You Get Your Greens From a Powder?

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green juicePowdered greens have held their spot on health food store shelves for years. But now they're showing up in your doctor's office.

That is, if your doctor's Frank Lipman, MD.

The wellness evangelist's new line of supplements and shakes includes Greens, three servings of the fruits and veggies—from wheat grass and kale to blueberries and tomato—all packed into less than one powdery ounce.

"I always encourage people to eat real food, but most of us don't get enough of the good stuff," says Dr. Lipman. "This is healthy living made easy for busy people."

But does powdered kale really do your body the same amount of good as a spinach salad?

Dr. Lipman says that most of the nutrients from the fruits and veggies do carry over into the powder, including the fiber.

Dr. Lipman recently introduced his own top-shelf version of a greens powder ($59 for 28 packets)

"What you get from a greens powder is plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are contained in the whole, uncooked plant," says Barbara Mendez, a New York City-based nutritionist and pharmacist. But Mendez cautions that while some fiber may remain, you don't get the abundance found in the whole veggie.

You may also lose some of the enzymes your body needs to absorb the nutrients (but a blend of green veggies may help with that).

Celeb nutritionist Lisa DeFazio, a registered dietician with a master's in nutritional science, agrees. DeFazio also says it matters that powders are man-made, because nature is much better at formulating foods the body can process and draw nutrients from.

"Eating whole fruits and vegetables with the fiber and the complex components (phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals) that nature created cannot be replicated exactly," she explains.

Still, for those who can't get their fruits and veggies (or can't be bothered to), DeFazio says, "Throwing a high-quality powder into a smoothie is better than nothing!"

That's good news if lunchtime is really just another word for "stuck at desk." —Lisa Elaine Held

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