Hello, I’m Mallory and I head up the nutrition side of things at kencko. I take a simple, holistic approach to health and wellness and have a passion for making nutrition relatable and attainable. So I’m really excited to be starting this column, where I can answer some of your questions directly. I’m going to start with some of the most common ones today, and If you’ve got a different topic you’d like me to cover, why not hit the link at the end of the article and send it through - I’ll try my best to get to it next time.
TL;DR - All produce starts to decline in nutritional value as soon as it’s picked. The kencko method is the best technology available for arresting this loss and retaining the nutrients of fresh fruits and vegetables in a convenient, go-anywhere format.
Firstly, it’s important to point out that “fresh” is a relative term. If you’re not picking the fruit off the tree yourself and putting it straight in your mouth, it’s hard to be certain of its nutritional value. For example, one study(1) found that various vegetables had lost between 15% and 77% of their Vitamin C a week after being picked - that includes almost all of the fresh produce you see in the grocery store! Because of this, produce that is frozen and/or dried soon after harvest can potentially deliver just as many nutrients as the so-called “fresh” equivalent that’s been hanging out in your fruit bowl for a week.
When we set out to create an instant drink with all the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables, we chose to create a product that belongs on the shelf rather than in the freezer, partly because it ticked all the sustainability boxes: dried produce has a far longer shelf life than frozen, it doesn’t use energy during storage and it is both lightweight and stable at room temperature, making it easier to ship. But it was equally important to us to choose the technology that would best “lock in” the nutrients throughout the life of the product.
At kencko, we use a flash-freeze, slow-dry technique because research shows that it retains the most nutrients compared to other drying methods (2,3,4). For my fellow science nerds out there, here’s how it works: Fresh fruits and vegetables start to lose vitamins and other micronutrients as soon as they are harvested, and the process is accelerated by heat. What’s more, the chemical reactions that reduce nutritional value take place much more rapidly in the presence of water. So if our goal is to preserve nutrients, we need to remove as much water while applying as little heat as possible.
First, we freeze the freshly-harvested produce very rapidly to -40C (which is coincidentally also -40F). The freezing part of the process turns the water content of the ingredients into a gas, through a process called sublimation - meaning that it behaves a bit like dry ice. That allows us to remove almost all the water without adding energy in the form of heat (compare air drying of e.g. raisins, where hot air is used to evaporate the fruits’ moisture).
Then, we heat the super-frozen ingredients up again, very gently. Because nearly all the liquid was evaporated at the freezing stage, there are minimal chemical reactions during this phase. The result: water comes out, nutrients stay in. The resulting dry powders are stable at room temperature for 9-12 months.
Rickman, Joy C., Bruhn, Christine M, & Barrett, Diane M. (2007). Review: Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables I. Vitamin C, B, and phenolic compounds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 87:930 – 944 (2007) doi: 10.1002/jsfa
Mbondo, N. N., Owino, W. O., Ambuko, J., & Sila, D. N. (2018). Effect of drying methods on the retention of bioactive compounds in African eggplant. Food Science & Nutrition, 6(4), 814-823. doi:10.1002/fsn3.623
Orak, H., Aktas, T., Yagar, H., Isbilir, S. S., Ekinci, N., & Sahin, F. H. (2012). Effects of hot air and freeze drying methods on antioxidant activity, colour and some nutritional characteristics of strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L) fruit. Food Science and Technology International, 18 (4), 391-402. doi:10.1177/1082013211428213
Mphahlele, Rebogile R et al. “Effect of drying on the bioactive compounds, antioxidant, antibacterial and antityrosinase activities of pomegranate peel.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 16 143. 26 May. 2016, doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1132-y
TL;DR - There’s a reason they’re called ‘supplements’: while pills can give extra help where and when it’s needed, they aren’t a substitute for a balanced diet. You need fruits and vegetables for an accessible, complementary range of nutrients that work together in your body.
Vitamin supplements, otherwise known as synthetic or isolated nutrients, may be a good way to fill in the spaces in your diet, but research shows that they shouldn’t take the place of a balanced diet. That’s why I always say, food first, then supplement if needed.
Bottom line: the body simply doesn’t absorb synthetic nutrients as readily as natural ones.
What’s more, the way vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the body can be pretty complicated, and certain nutrients help others to be absorbed. For example, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and vitamin C aids absorption of most other nutrients (especially iron). Foods such as fruits and vegetables contain multiple vitamins, nutrients, even fiber that all work together to help the body absorb more of what it needs to stay nourished and healthy. On the other hand, in synthetic vitamins each nutrient is isolated, unless you are pairing them or taking a multivitamin.
There is plenty of research to support the fact that a diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces risk for cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses (1), while research looking at supplementation of vitamins and minerals in relation to these same ailments is commonly inconclusive (2). That’s even more relevant in the case of antioxidants and phytochemicals - found in many fruits and vegetables such as berries, kale, and more - which reduce inflammation, fight free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic illness including cancer. While antioxidant supplements exist, research results don’t support reduced risk (3).
Overall, fruits and vegetables are full of great nutrients and benefits for our bodies. Vitamin supplements could be added to fill in the gaps. Of course each body is different and has different needs, so it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor or nutritionist when considering supplements.
Hajhashemi, V., Vaseghi, G., Pourfarzam, M., & Abdollahi, A. (2010). Are antioxidants helpful for disease prevention?. Research in pharmaceutical sciences, 5 (1), 1–8
Fortmann SP, Burda BU, Senger CA, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplements in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: an updated systematic evidence review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. 2013. In: Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]. York (UK): Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK); 1995-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK169368/
Goodman M1, Bostick RM, Kucuk O, Jones DP. (2011)Clinical trials of antioxidants as cancer prevention agents: past, present, and future. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Sep 1;51(5):1068-84
TL;DR - There’s a big difference between a juice and a whole fruit product like kencko. Not only do many commercial fruit juices add sugar, even the natural sugars in fruits work differently when you remove the fiber.
It’s important to check what is going into your fruit juices, as many store-bought juices are sweetened with added sugar. When our bodies take in this added sugar, also known as refined sugar or sucrose, it is absorbed very fast resulting in a spike in blood sugar, which usually leaves us wanting more.
Even fruit juices without added sugar come with a caveat. Natural fruit sugars (fructose) found in whole fruits, vegetables, and whole-fruit smoothies such as kencko, are accompanied by many vitamins and minerals and, most importantly, fiber. When you consume fructose in these naturally-occurring combinations the result on blood sugar is very different: slow and gradual and not followed by a crash. This has a lot to do with the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. In most fruit juices, even when there isn’t any added sugar, all of the fiber has been removed - so you still get that spike in blood sugar. Fiber helps us digest our food, increase feelings of fullness, and is known to lower cholesterol and support blood sugar regulation. That’s why we take fiber so seriously: you’ll find that no fiber is ever harmed in the making of our drinks!
TL;DR - Yes! Don’t cut out fruits and vegetables as part of a diet. Keep aiming for five-a-day, or more.
Absolutely! However you are choosing to change your diet, I would really encourage you not to limit your fruit and vegetable intake. In fact, in my experience adding more fruits and vegetables to a diet usually aids with weight loss, as well as promoting overall health. There’s broad agreement in the nutritional community that five servings of fruits and vegetables every day is the minimum requirement for a healthy lifestyle, and recent studies suggest that people enjoy maximum benefits when they eat twice that amount. One packet of kencko equals two of your five-a-day, so it’s a quick and easy way to get to five, eight or even ten a day!
When making modifications to your eating habits, be wary of going to extremes - especially if a diet is asking you to eliminate entire food groups and promising astonishing results. Small, positive changes - for example, replacing a serving of refined carbs with one of vegetables, or replacing fruit juice or soda with kencko - are more sustainable over time and easier to maintain as you lose weight. I commonly see quick-fix diets result in quick weight gain.
Enjoy one kencko a day, anytime, to get two of your recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Since one kencko mixed with water is only roughly 85 calories, I wouldn’t recommend it as a meal replacement, but don’t let that discourage you from having kencko as a midday snack. And it makes a great addition to a meal! I like to add purples into a smoothie bowl or plain greek yogurt to liven up my breakfast, or just mix one up with chilled water to drink with my lunch.
Eat the fruits and vegetables you love, and eat lots of them! A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to tons of health benefits including decreased risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke - just to name a few.
While you don’t have to eat every kind, it is important to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables. One easy way to do that is to think of foods by color: fruits and vegetables often signpost their nutrients that way. That’s why at kencko we encourage you to #drink the rainbow! Red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants called anthocyanins, as well as vitamin C and vitamin A. As a kid, were you told that carrots would help you see in the dark? Well, it turns out that all yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are known for their vitamin A content, a nutrient associated with improved eye health. And green fruits and vegetables are typically full of fiber, which is great for gut health, blood sugar regulation, and cholesterol. They’re also sources of vitamins A and C, and leafy greens in particular contain calcium.
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