Would the world be different now if our mothers, usually so infinitely wise, had told us to drink our vegetables rather than eat them. Certainly less time would have been spent pouting and trying to slip unwanted peas to the family dog under the table only to find he didn’t want them either.
Green drinks, those thick, slightly sludgy looking brews of pulverized verdant veggies, grasses, herbs and fruits, may not look good, but their taste is surprisingly delicious (though expect some stares from those watching you slurp down a bottle or two). And, if all the hype is to be believed, extremely healthy as well.
“We have a whole section green drinks,” says Tim Petrites, member of the marketing and education team at Baums Natural Foods with locations in Munster, Merrillville and St. John. “Including Greenergy which is being endorsed by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes which detoxify the body and helps the system become more alkaline. And cancer doesn’t like alkaline.”
In his book, The Healthy Green Drink Diet: Advice and Recipes to Energize, Alkalize, Lose Weight, and Feel Great (Skyhorse Publishing 2013; $16.99), green drink advocate Jason Manheim discusses how green drinks (the color comes from phytochemical chlorophyll) help fight fatigue and a host of other difficulties like heart disease, cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response, cancer prevention as well as the bacteria that cause bad breath. They also raise the body’s alkaline levels.
“Green foods are extremely important for the cell functions of muscles, organs and brain health as well as the digestion of foods for nutrients,” says Manheim.
Drinking green also helps change our dietary patterns.
“Green-drinkers quickly start to crave more fruits and vegetables,” says Manheim, “leading them to a healthier diet over all.”
Manheim isn’t alone in his think green approach to health. According to Beverage Marketing, a research and consulting firm, sales of bottled super-premium fruit and veggie juices totaled $2.25 billion last year, up 58 percent since 2004, while sales of the types of juices we used to drink such as apple and orange have been flat. Even carbonated soft drinks peaked about six years ago and while they still account for around $71 billion in sales, they have pretty much stayed at that level.
“We have many more people coming in because they’re reading articles about green drinks,” says Diane Nelson, owner of Au Naturel Market, a natural food store in Valparaiso. “We talk to them and help them decide what’s best for them.”
Au Naturel Market has a myriad of green offerings.
“Green is good because there are all types of nutrients in dense greens,” says Nelson “A popular drink is Green Vibrance which also has probiotics. Macro Greens by MacroLife has 73 ingredients.”
Indeed, according to the MacroLife Website (I’m almost feeling healthier just writing this), 38 of Macro Greens’ ingredients feed the body at a cellular level by providing antioxidants, co-nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The other 37 are synergistic substances. In terms of the alkaline pH factor, MacroLife uses certified organic barley grass juice which is thought to provide one of the widest spectrums of naturally occurring nutrients available in a single source.
For even more proof that there’s a green revolution going on, consider this. According to Barron’s Website, Campbell Soup just paid $1.55 billion to buy Bolthouse, one of the popular brands sold in the chilled section at grocery stores – sometimes even in the produce department. Coca-Cola already owns the Odwalla brand of super-premium juices, and PepsiCo is the power behind Naked juices. Like smoothies in a bottle, Naked’s Green Machine contains not kiwi, pineapple, apples, spinach, parsley and broccoli but a vast array of lesser known ingredients like blue green algae, spirulina, barley grass, wheat grass and chlorella. This concoction provides 50 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin A and 11 percent of potassium. Green Goodness, which is Bolthouse’s green drink, is a blend of 20 ingredients including apple, mango, kiwi and spinach and also contains of Vitamins A as well as C and B12.
“I recently started blending a lot of green things in a high powered blender,” says Karen Jensen, a Certified Practitioner of The Feldenkrais Method and The Anat Baniel Method with a private practice in Miller Beach. “It’s very energizing and alkalizing and helps maintain the immune system.”
Jensen often follows recipes for creating green drinks because she finds the flavors meld better but she does like to add her own touches such fresh ginger, one half of an organic lemon with seeds and rind removed and coconut oil.
Think of it, in ways, as a green salad once it’s hit the food processor. Many of the green drinks contain such super greenies as chard and kale.
“The drinks come in powders, capsules, tablets – some you add to smoothies or mix with water,” says Petrites. “There are different favors too. We have some that have greens from land and sea and some that also have pomegranate and gingko. It would be hard for me to pick one product to get stuck on a desert island, but if I had to Green Vibrant – which has greens from and sea and plus herbs.”
Despite our good intentions, many of us don’t eat enough veggies and so adding a green drink to our daily diet is an easy and yummy way to get the antioxidants, fiber and vitamins A, C and K we may be missing. Uncooked, green drinks maintain more of their nutrient content. Also because they’re filling, they make a great alternative to soft drinks which are full of calories but don’t create a feeling of fullness, leading to more calorie consumption.
“Kale is very nutritious but tends to be bitter so blending it with other vegetables is a great way to disguise the taste,” says Lori Granich RD, Clinical Dietitian, Midwest Bariatric Institute in Dyer, giving another reason to puree your veggies. “Many people report improved digestion and increased energy after incorporating these drinks into their diet. It is most likely attributed to the increase in nutrients and fiber that their previous diet may have lacked.”
Besides pulverized veggies, green tea is also seen as a healthy alternative to soft drinks.
“Green tea is considered one of the super foods,” says Kim Kramer, a wellness dietitian at Ingalls Hospital and the Illinois Dietetic Association’s media spokeswoman. “All the teas – green, black, red and white – have antioxidants. Herbal teas don’t.”
Marquette Perk in Miller Beach features green tea smoothies incorporating the benefits of both tea and fruit.
“We feature them in a variety of flavors including strawberry, peach, mango and wild berry,” says Samantha Engel of Marquette Perk. “People may order them because they’re healthy but they also like them because they’re delicious.”