It won’t come as a surprise that many Americans fall short of the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. In a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the median daily intake of fruits and vegetables was 1.1 to 1.6 times per day, respectively, for adults, and 1.0 and 1.3 times per day for teens. “This is well below the CDC recommendation of five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day,” said Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, director of nutrition research at New York-based American Health.
Instead of fresh fruits and vegetables, most Americans choose French fries and ketchup as their “vegetables” for the day, said Bradford A. Young, PhD, founder and CEO of AddisonField Inc., makers of the whole food supplement RDA-12. This is quite typical of the standard American diet (SAD), which is characterized by red meats, sugar, and high-fat, processed foods. A diet such as this, one that is severely lacking in greens, can lead to a slew of health problems. “It is literally a hidden health crisis that less than five percent of Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables every day,” Young added. “This leads to nutritional deficiencies for micronutrients such as essential vitamins, phytochemicals and insoluble fiber. This deficit contributes to numerous diseases or pathological conditions including inflammation, cancer and heart disease.”
Numerous health studies report a consistent link between fruit and/or vegetable consumption and overall health, said Hazels Mitmesser. While nothing can replace the benefits of real fruits and veggies, consumers are starting to take control of their health by adding whole food and green food supplements to their diets. According to a SPINS report, whole food concentrate multivitamins now represent about half of all multivitamin sales. “What is driving this growth? It’s simple … whole food nutrition offers customers ‘insurance’ that they are getting the ‘good for you’ nutrients they want from fruits, vegetables and whole foods—such as bioflavonoids, phytonutrients and naturally-occurring antioxidants—in supplement form,” Hazels Mitmesser added.
Benefits of Whole Food Supplements
Whole food multivitamins supplement the diet by filling in nutritional gaps, but they also offer the benefit of a purer supplement. “All customer segments from Millennials to the Greatest Generation are realizing the importance of eating ‘real food’ or getting nutrients from a greens/whole food supplement as opposed to supplements loaded with artificial chemicals or ingredients,” Young said.
Whole food supplements do not typically contain artificial chemicals, according to Young, since they are made with real food, and are generally free from binders, lubricants, preservatives and artificial flavoring.
Whole food supplements also work better in the body. “In general, whole food supplements including freeze-dried foods are better recognized, absorbed and utilized by the body than supplements loaded with artificial ingredients ‘from the factory as opposed to the farm,’” Young added. That’s because whole food supplements contain unique micronutrients known as cofactors that are needed for nutrient assimilation in the body. Synthetic vitamins, on the other hand, are made in a lab and don’t contain these cofactors. Therefore, the body doesn’t recognize them as food and either eliminates them, or stores them up, which may eventually lead to health problems.1
AddisonField offers a nutritional supplement, made solely from 12 whole fruits and vegetables, called RDA-12. It is a pure plant-based nutritional supplement that provides 100 percent the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for essential nutrients. “We use a proprietary process that preserves the nutrients (e.g. vitamin complexes) in their most natural state and increases their absorption for maximum benefit,” Young said. “In short, RDA-12 provides non-synthetic vitamins your body can actually absorb and use solely from whole fruits and vegetables.”
The company recommended the supplement be taken twice daily, spread throughout the day, for maximum benefit. “This allows you to titrate your servings of essential vitamins though the day … this approach is recommended by many physicians and has many benefits including providing more energy throughout the day,” Young said.
Another supplement that offers the benefits of whole food is American Health’s More Than a Multiple. “Our More Than a Multiple ‘Classic’ Whole-Food Multivitamins (Original, Men, Women, Iron Free/Vegetarian) combine energy-rich, whole-food concentrates with the mega-potency of over 50 vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, herbs and amino acids,” said Hazels Mitmesser.
The energy-rich, whole food concentrates in More Than a Multiple work synergistically with other nutrients to provide extra nutritional support. The supplements come in timed-release capsules to provide immediate and extended nutritional support throughout the day. Also available is More Than a Multiple “Essentials” made with whole food concentrates, but with expanded supplementation to target an area of concern, such as brain, energy, cardiovascular or vision.* American Health also offers More Than a Multiple Greens with advanced probiotics.
Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation, located in Texas, also offers green food supplements with its Super Earth OrganicGreens Powder. “The importance of green foods in the diet is now being validated by scientific investigation, which is attempting to understand why these nutrients are beneficial for human health,” said Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, director of research and development/national education at the company.
One thing all green foods have in common is chlorophyll, the substance that makes them green. “Chlorophyll has been shown to be beneficial in supporting respiratory and GI (gastrointestinal) health,” Sugarek MacDonald explained. “Moreover, chlorophyll has been shown in research to also nullify the negative effects of a variety of environmental and food substances, such as cigarette smoke, diesel fumes and fried foods, which is why it has always been thought to be the principle detoxification component in green grasses.”
Green foods provide a blend of crucial vitamins, minerals and other powerful phytonutrients like chlorophyll to detoxify and cleanse the body, balance alkalinity and pH, promote energy and immune health, and restore digestive health. Super Earth OrganicGreens Powder offers these benefits with its six nutrient-dense green foods—100 percent organic wheatgrass, barley grass, alfalfa grass and green kamut, plus chlorella and spirulina.
Cereal grasses also offer the advantage of high-quality vegetable protein and fiber, which is often missing in the traditional Western diet, according to Sugarek MacDonald. Plus, consuming green foods in powdered form can be more beneficial than eating vegetables straight off the vine for a variety of reasons: greater versatility, improved assimilation and enhanced nutrient profile, convenience and better taste, she added.
Super Earth OrganicGreens Powder can be used in smoothies, in salsa, and sprinkled over food. “Using a farm-to-table greens powder like Bluebonnet’s Super Earth OrganicGreens that has not been processed [offers the benefits] of all the phytonutrients that naturally exist in nature by simply adding a spoonful of greens powder to a cup of cold water and shake. It’s a convenient way to get all the greens you need, especially for those constantly on the go,” Sugarek MacDonald said.
Betsy’s Health Foods in Houston, TX has had great success selling Bluebonnet’s Super Earth OrganicGreens Powder. “We are actually sold out of both sizes of the product,” said Ramona Billingslea, the store’s marketing manager. ”Customers like the product because it is organic and doesn’t have any extra herbs, just the greens, like kamut, barley, and spirulina. In other words, it is a very simple, clean greens formula.”
Billingslea said some of her customers may research something about pH and then come in asking about greens, but more often they come into the store with more specific health goals or problems, like stress or mood or wanting to improve heart health. “At this point, we are the ones who lead them toward thinking in the direction of a connection between diet and health and pointing out how the majority of us need supplemental support to help us fill in the nutritional gaps left by the typical Western diet,” she said. “Because greens offer so many nutrients rolled into one—vitamins, minerals, EFAs—they are a favorite recommendation at our store. Since they also support a wide variety of structures and functions in the body, greens are truly a win-win.”
Kansas-based PINES International is another company offering green foods, with its Pines Wheat Grass, Pines Barley Grass, Pines Beet Juice Powder, and Pines Alfalfa. “All are certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, certified kosher, raw and grown in accordance with the standards established by Charles Schnabel in 1937,” said Ron Seibold, the company’s co-founder and president.
The company also has two new products. Green Duo is a blend of certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified alfalfa and wheatgrass and is available in both powder and capsule form. Green Duo is packaged in amber glass jars with special caps so the company can remove the oxygen and prevent the loss of nutrients that occurs with plastic, paper, foil or any other thin-walled packaging material, Seibold explained.
The other new product is Mighty Greens, which is similar to Green Duo but also contains certified organic hemp protein and stevia to provide a great flavor when mixed with water or juice. “Like all Pine’s powders, there are hundreds of possible recipe ideas for incorporating our green powders into more foods,” Seibold said.
Another option is Ormus Supergreen, a whole food and juice powder green supplement from Nevada-based Sunwarrior, which is full of powerful superfoods and raw vitamins that come from organic herbs, fruits and adaptogens, according to Denley Fowlke, cofounder of the company. It also contains enzymes and probiotics and two plant-based, raw proteins.
“Whole foods supply nutrients our bodies know and love, unlike synthetics found in many multivitamins. These are real foods for real benefits,” Fowlke said, adding that there are many studies that support the use of natural vitamins over synthetics.
Washington-based Barlean’s offers several green foods as well, including Barlean’s Organic Greens, Barlean’s Organic Greens (berry flavored), Barlean’s Superfruit Greens (strawberry-kiwi flavored), and Barlean’s Chocolate flavored Greens. These greens mix easily into various drinks or just water for easy body assimilation, said Andreas Koch, the company’s marketing director.
According to Koch, green food concentrates help support gentle cleansing of vital organs and body tissue, superboost health and energy, help improve digestion, aid the body’s natural detoxification, promote a healthy immune system, and help achieve the recommended daily dose of vegetables.
Another company that offers whole food supplements is Florida-based Enzymedica, with its Enzymedica Enzyme Nutrition Multi-Vitamins. “Our whole-food nutrients are sourced from microorganisms, typically lactobacillus or saccharomyces organism that are grown with mediums that are high in nutrients,” said Walter Crinnion, NDA, the company’s chief science officer. “The different organisms have receptor sites for different nutrients and take them up in different levels. This is why we do not use a single organism.”
The company utilizes capsules to protect the enzymes present in the whole food nutrients from being denatured. “During tableting, the contents of the tablet are exposed to enough heat to denature the enzymes,” Crinnion explained. “We want the enzymes to be present to help escort the whole food nutrients through the GI tract and into the cells.”
And, rounding out the list of whole food or green food products, is Texas-based Genesis Today, with its Essential Greens and Total Nutrition. “Essential Greens is one of the most well-rounded green superfood supplements currently available on the market,” said Adair Marie Lindsay, MS, RD, LD, the company’s regional educator and trainer (East Coast).
“Essential Greens contains a blend of nutrients offering enzymes, probiotics, herbs and fiber. Our products also contain 25 billion live probiotic colony forming units per serving.” Essential Greens is made from a careful selection of quality, organic, freeze-dried land and sea vegetables combined with a synergistic blend of herbs, superfruits, enzymes and probiotics, Lindsay explained. The land plant blend includes wheat, alfalfa, barley and oat grasses.
Total Nutrition is a certified organic, vegetarian multivitamin and mineral supplement extracted from plants that supplies vital nutrients for daily nutrition, according to Lindsay. “This unique formula also includes a blend of enzymes, amino acids and fermented superfoods,” she added. “Created in a liquid form to grab on the go, Total Nutrition blends 46 organic vegetables and superfoods, including carrots, spinach, kale, kelp, camu camu, maca root, acai, mangosteen and sea buckthorn in a gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and lactose-free formula.”
The best way retailers can help fill nutritional gaps is by educating their customers. AddisonField’s Young recommended retailers educate the public on the severe nutritional deficit caused by the lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet; the need to eat “real food” and avoid overly processed food; and the importance of avoiding supplements that are over-formulated with artificial chemicals, including synthetic vitamins.
PINES International’s Seibold said he believes in focusing on the health benefits of real fruits and veggies when it comes to talking with customers about diet. “How about focusing on the positives of eating your fruits and veggies?” he asked. “And how about lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, or boosting your mood, slowing down the aging process, or even improving your breath? These are all benefits from eating your fruits and veggies, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce!”
For educational opportunities, retailers should reach out to companies for support when it comes to whole food and green supplements information. American Health offers retailers comprehensive training on all More Than a Multiple products as part of its education program, said Hazels Mitmesser. The company also offers in-store merchandising tools that can help drive retailer business including samples, posters and endcap headers, as well as banners for in-store and website promotional opportunities.
And finally, Genesis Today’s Lindsay recommended that retailers use demonstrations and sample giveaways so customers can taste and experience products, such as the company’s Essential Greens or Total Nutrition. “Genesis Today also supports these products by employing educators and trainers, like me, who travel to health food stores and educate employees about the products, providing talking points to better explain the benefits to customers.” VR
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Resources: 1 http://www.wholefoodvitamins.us.com/