Disclaimer: my thoughts shouldn’t be taken as dietary advice and shouldn’t replace any professional advice; your health is your responsibility.
How nutritious is Power Smoothie?
It’s challenging to answer this question in a satisfying way, because of the huge amount of debate over what foods are nutritious. However, having familiarized myself (at a basic, not comprehensive level) with most schools of thought and their reasoning, I feel fairly comfortable saying that Power Smoothie is about as generally nutritious and healthy as you can ask a meal to be, and to the extent that your particular school of thought objects to aspects of it, these are easily addressed via alternative recipes.
The basic situation is that Power Smoothie is primarily composed of (a) ingredients that just about everyone in the world thinks are good for you (fruits and leafy green vegetables); (b) ingredients that provide much of the satisfaction (fat and protein) of what many consider “bad foods,” but are in a form that few schools of nutrition would object to. The result is a meal that provides major benefits, few downsides, and real satisfaction, almost no matter what school of thought you accept.
This does not mean that Power Smoothie should be expected to cause weight loss. My concern has been with general nutrition – including implications for long-term risks such as diabetes and heart disease – not with theories of how to lose large amounts of weight. I know very little about the latter, and would think that Power Smoothie might or might not be appropriate as part of a weight loss program (depending on the program).
This page discusses:
- Different views of nutrition. There are many theories about what makes a diet “nutritious,” including USDA recommendations, Harvard School of Public Health’s critique of the USDA and its contrasting recommendations, the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo diet, Perfect Health Diet, other low-carb diet philosophies (including that of Gary Taubes), Blue Zones, and vegetarianism/veganism. I don’t go into much detail here on my views re: what the evidence says. I do believe that “theories of nutrition” generally over-claim, and there are relatively few things we have strong evidence are healthy or unhealthy. However, Power Smoothie either does well or can be adapted to do well according to any school of thought you buy into. The few rules broken by a standard Power Smoothie are among the (in my opinion) particularly weakly supported ones, and all can be adjusted via alternative recipes. More
- Micronutrients. Another way to think about nutrition is to try to focus on ensuring that you get enough of each vitamin and mineral. This seems to be the approach taken by Soylent, and it’s natural to wonder about the micronutrient composition of Power Smoothie. Since (a) Soylent is a similar idea to (and the inspiration for) Power Smoothie; (b) I’ve found little information on how to think about the micronutrient composition of different diets, I’ve written an extended section on this topic. Bottom line: Power Smoothie does about as good a job providing micronutrients as you should want it to. More
Different schools of thought on diet
- USDA recommendations aren’t actually advocated for by anyone I know, and are believed by many (including the Harvard School of Public Health, below) to be riddled with industry interests. They seem to have gotten vaguer over time, to the point where it takes effort to even extract very much concrete advice from their current iteration. They generally are positive on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy, and negative on animal&dairy fats (omega-3’s and other fats found in nuts and vegetable oils are fine/good), and negative on sodium.
- Harvard School of Public Health critiques the USDA food pyramid and offers its own recommendations. It is positive on fruits and vegetables, negative on red meat and saturated fat and sodium, positive on the fats in nuts and vegetable oils, positive on fish and poultry and eggs, positive on vitamin supplements especially vitamin D (which I’m skeptical of based on this post), negative on refined grains (white bread, white rice, pasta, potatoes, refined sugar). It is more negative on dairy and refined grains than the USDA recommendations. These recommendations seem to contradict a lot of evidence I know of, and the site is pretty sparse in its citations.
- The Mediterranean diet attempts to emulate the diet of a particular time and place (southern Italy and Greece in the 1960s) where unusually low rates of heart disease were observed despite reasonably high fat consumption. It recommends avoiding meats, sweets and refined (as opposed to whole) grains, is fine with fat from olive oil, is positive on seafood, and recommends high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts/legumes/seeds. It also emphasizes whole/natural foods. I think the evidence base for this diet is OK and that it’s probably an improvement on the above two.
- The Paleo diet philosophy hypothesizes that we should emulate the diets of our pre-agricultural ancestors, based on the idea that (a) we have evolved to handle this diet well, and haven’t evolutionarily adjusted to post-agriculture diets; (b) hunter-gatherer societies seem to have been free of “diseases of civilization” such as heart disease, cancer, diabets and obesity (even when adjusting for longevity). It likes meat, seafood, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds; it doesn’t like grains, legumes (beans, peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, or refined vegetable oils (though it’s fine with olive oil, flaxseed oil and others). This is the diet I’ve had the easiest time finding detailed academic defenses of, and I think there is a lot to be intrigued by here – there seem to be decent reasons to think that hunter-gatherers had remarkably low “disease of civilization” rates (though the case is far from open-and-shut, and the most-relied-upon civilization – the Kitavans – appears to have been largely pescatarian, providing little support for the meat-heavy carb-low concept). It seems to me that even the best paleo proponents do some degree of overreaching and making claims that are not supported by strong evidence; the arguments against grains seem overblown to me though I haven’t reviewed them exhaustively and there seems to be something to them, and the arguments against beans and potatoes are highly unpersuasive to me.
- The Perfect Health Diet is a particular book that involves a wide-reaching set of prescriptions and has a lot of discussion of academic literature. I read the first 200 pages or so. There is a lot of overlap with the paleo philosophy and recommendations, though the book is more tolerant of potatoes and similar starches. With the caveat that I’m no expert, I found this book’s arguments to be poorly supported, and far prefer the work of paleo academics like Staffan Lindeberg and Loren Cordain.
- There are various proponents of low-carb diets out there, including Good Calories, Bad Calories and apparently a book co-authored by Ray Kurzweil. I haven’t read the latter; the former, while very long, was not ultimately convincing to me, and while it made some intriguing points (particularly criticism of diet conventional wisdom) I thought it overreached in its claims about the ill effects of carbohydrates and the merits of cutting down on them.
- Blue Zones is a book studying diets of particularly healthy-seeming modern areas: “we teamed up with demographers and scientists at the National Institute on Aging to identify pockets around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. These are the places where people reach age 100 at rates significantly higher, and on average, live longer, healthier lives than Americans do. They also suffer a fraction of the rate of killer diseases that Americans do.” It doesn’t have much specific advice about diet – the main observations are that these areas have fairly low meat consumption, eat mostly carbohydrates, mostly stick to whole/natural foods, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and beans/bean products, and drink a good deal of red wine and coffee. Frustratingly, there are no more details on the methodology beyond the quote I gave, making this book highly suspect. However, I think it’s worth paying some attention to because this basic methodology seems to me like it should have significant value added on top of the usual methods of studying diet, which tend to consist of (a) using very poor data to speculate about the diets and health of hunter-gatherers; (b) unreliable speculation about biological mechanisms; (c) uncontrolled observational studies trying to draw conclusions from things like “People who eat more meat have more heart disease” (potential confounders and potential for data-mining abound). I see a lot of appeal in focusing on real-world diets of healthy cultures, rather than trying to strip out the effects of particular foods and nutrients using unreliable analysis.
- Vegetarianism/veganism is, I think, usually about ethics more than it’s about nutrition (though certainly claims are made that it is the most nutritious approach to diet). Like several of the above schools of thought, it discourages consumption of animal products.
What does all of this mean for Power Smoothie? Power Smoothie consists of:
- Fruits and vegetables, which every single school of thought seems to regard as very good or at worst neutral, and which seem to be the most common thing that most schools of thought urge eating (as opposed to designating as “fine”).
- Soy milk. Bean products in general (and soy in particular) are common in Blue Zones and (as discussed further down on this page) strong sources of micronutrients, and most schools of thought regard them as good or neutral. The exceptions are the Paleo and Perfect Health Diet schools of thought, but I personally (given my limited current knowledge) find these groups’ arguments against beans to be among their weakest arguments (note that it’s arguable that beans fit the paleo criteria anyway). If you really don’t want soy, though, you have plenty of other options. The paleo Power Smoothie uses coconut milk.
You can also just use nuts and water if you really want to avoid store-bought soy milk, which is probably more “industrial/processed” than most Power Smoothie ingredients (while less “industrial/processed” than most foods – as I understand it, soy milk basically comes from soaking and blending soybeans, the straining and boiling the result).
- Fat from flaxseed oil, olive oil, nuts or yogurt. The oils seem to be regarded as healthy or neutral by every single school of thought; nuts and yogurt are a bit more contentious according to the Paleo/Perfect Health Diet perspective, though again I think the arguments against these are among those schools of thoughts’ weakest arguments. Flaxseed oil is very rich in omega-3’s, though in my opinion the omega-3’s in seafood are probably better for you.
- Whey powder. This is the ingredient that I find most worth worrying about, probably, because it’s refined and processed and fake, and nearly all of the schools of thought (and common sense) seem suspicious of heavily processed/industrial food in general. That said, I have searched for complaints/warnings about whey powder specifically and have found nothing that looks remotely credible. Also, “isolating protein from milk to aid protein consumption” seems a very different endeavor from the usual “industrial/processed/fake” dynamic, which I’d characterize more as “optimizing food to make it absurdly pleasurable/addictive/desirable, without regard to nutrition and with many sketchy additives.” Also, protein powder is widely used by bodybuilders with no major reports of ill effects that I’m aware of. This seems like a reasonable way of getting a nice satisfying dose of protein while having relatively little ethical impact and invoking the other challenges (logistical, potentially nutritional) associated with animal products.
- Very little in the way of carbohydrates. You can eat carbohydrates on the side (I do), or skip them if you’re a low-carb type.
- No animal products other than the whey powder, which can be replaced with vegan protein powder.
What good foods does Power Smoothie not have? It doesn’t have fish, which most schools of thought (including my micronutrient analysis, below) seem to encourage eating; it doesn’t have meat, which some schools of thought like and some dislike; it doesn’t have grains or much in the way of carbohydrates, which some schools of thought like and some don’t. This is pretty good as meals go. Power Smoothie probably shouldn’t be the only thing you eat, but even if it is you could do a lot worse, and it seems to me that you can easily use it for one meal a day and get plenty of whatever other stuff (fish, meat, eggs, grains) your diet tells you to get.
If you would like my detailed thoughts on diet research, contact me for them. They are very much a work in progress, as there is a lot of evidence of different types to go through and a lot of confusing claims, but at this point I feel fairly satisfied with my understanding of the nutritional implications of Power Smoothie specifically.
What are micronutrients, and how much should we care about them?
The USDA publishes dietary reference intakes for a variety of vitamins and minerals (henceforth “micronutrients”). My impression is that most of these micronutrients have been identified as playing some role or potential role in the body (”What’s in Soylent” gives descriptions – which I haven’t checked – for most of them), without necessarily meaning that we know how important this role is (sometimes we know a lot, sometimes a little) or how much of each micronutrient is “optimal.”
In addition to these, there are “macronutrients” – protein, fat, and carbohydrates – that clearly play essential roles in the body and that are generally consumed in very large quantities relative to micronutrients (I don’t really have a source for this but nobody seems to dispute it; see ”What’s in Soylent” for quantities).
It appears to me that the basic philosophy behind Soylent (which is the inspiration for Power Smoothie is a belief that “everything the healthy body needs” means something roughly along the lines of “100% of the USDA’s reference intake of each micronutrient/macronutrient.” The ingredient list for Soylent basically looks like a list of purified micronutrients, plus carbohydrates (maltodextrin and oat powder), fat (canola and fish oil), and isolated protein.
My view is that the current state of our knowledge about micronutrients is extremely limited, and that getting 100% of your “reference intake” for each micronutrient is neither necessary nor sufficient for a healthy diet; it makes more sense to primarily eat whole/natural foods that reflect the best available information about what foods are good.
Reasons I believe this:
- Nobody seems to think that dietary reference intakes are generally well-grounded. At one point I tried to figure out what they’re actually based on, chasing the paper trail for riboflavin (I forget why I chose riboflavin), and ended up at this paper on the B-complex vitamins. The riboflavin requirement seemed to be based on how much you can give someone before it starts coming out in their urine, with 6 cited studies on not-necessarily-representative populations (including elderly Guatemalans, deficient Gambians and “modestly obese young women on low-energy diets”). Skimming the others in the paper seemed to give a fairly consistent picture of wild guesswork.
- Vitamin supplementation does not seem to have a good track record (example). I’ve seen multiple cases in which there was a good deal of excitement over some micronutrient, followed by disappointing studies of direct supplementation (example).
- Many of the schools of thought discussed earlier on this page explicitly urge a focus on whole/natural foods, and I perceive the arguments for doing so as reasonable and somewhat evidence-backed.
- Generally, it seems to me that beliefs and research about what nutrients are important are changing rapidly, with a continuing flow of new entrants to the list of “important things to consume.” This is based mostly on loose impressions, both on my part and on the part of my friend Dario, who reports that this is the belief of the biologists he has spoken to on the subject.
With that said, I think it’s reasonable to be curious about the micronutrient content of Power Smoothie relative to reference intakes; to try not to be highly deficient in any particular micronutrient; and to use micronutrient composition as one input into the question of what a healthy diet looks like. Below, I address these.
My micronutrients spreadsheet
I wanted to take a look at what sorts of diets are and aren’t rich in micronutrients (relative to reference intakes), but found this surprisingly challenging: I couldn’t find an easy way to play around with different combinations of foods and see what the total micronutrient content would be. So I created a spreadsheet (using USDA data) that lists ~50 common foods and allows me to create a series of hypothetical “diets” with different amounts of these foods, and see what their micronutrient content is relative to reference intakes. A link to the spreadsheet is below, and you’re welcome to play with it. The easiest way to use it is to go to the “Diet analysis (multiple)” sheet, play with the # servings of each food (columns G, I, K, etc.; these correspond to the foods listed in column B), and watch what happens to the micronutrient composition of the diet (this will be the column immediately to the right of the one you’re playing with, corresponding to the list of micronutrients in column E; the cells will automatically be colored red for “less than 50% of the reference intake”, yellow for “50-75%”, blue for “75-95%” and green for 95%+).
More detail on the spreadsheet:
I was able to find a giant table of USDA data on different foods’ micronutrient content, but this table (a) includes ~8000 foods, including a lot of weird ones; (b) simply states micronutrient content (in grams or micrograms or whatever), without comparing to reference intakes; (c) often has strange “serving sizes” such that it’s hard to tell what the micronutrient content is of a realistic serving of the food. (For example, the serving size for peanut butter is 589 calories, which would be ~30% of a 2000-calorie daily diet).
I picked out about 50 “whole foods” that one could reasonably expect to eat, that don’t seem to be fortified or condensed in significant ways, and that represent a wide range of the sorts of foods one might eat. (I also conducted multiple iterations of this exercise and made sure I was including foods rich in nutrients that were proving harder to get). I calculated how much a “serving” provides of each micronutrient, as a percentage of the reference intake (which I got from the USDA source mentioned before). I made up my own serving sizes and I was highly subjective about determining what a “serving” is, just thinking about how much one might realistically eat at a meal. My serving sizes are generally 1 cup or less by volume, and subject to that limitation, I aimed for 100-200 calories, sometimes more when dealing with “entree” type foods.
The government data on 8000 foods is in the “Raw data” sheet. The list of common foods and their micronutrient composition (as a percentage of the reference intake per serving) is in the “Common foods info” sheet; the columns all the way on the right also rank the foods by their “percentage reference intake per serving” for each micronutrient, making it easy to hunt for foods that have micronutrients of interest. Finally and most importantly, the “Diet analysis (multiple)” sheet allows one to enter in a “diet” that consists of a number of servings of each food; then, it calculates what percentage of the “reference intake” this diet would have.
Note that I have reference intakes, but not food content, for the five micronutrients at the end: biotin, chromium, fluoride, iodine, molybdenum. So just ignore those. I don’t claim my analysis is comprehensive, but I hope/think it gives a good rough picture.
Power Smoothie micronutrients
The below table gives the micronutrient content – as a percentage of the USDA dietary reference intake – that you would get if you consumed 2000 calories worth of (Power Smoothie + whole wheat bread) per day – i.e., if you basically lived off of Power Smoothie plus bread, which I don’t recommend. I list four versions of Power Smoothie:
- The default recipe, excluding all fortification – this shows what you would get from the foods alone
- The version with yogurt, which has a lot of the “animal product” nutrients the default version lacks
- The default recipe, including the fortifications from the soy milk I use, which are similar to what you get from dairy.
- The peanut butter version including fortifications from the soy milk I use.
Note that I assume zero micronutrient content for the protein powder and oil in the Power Smoothie, and including bread makes things look worse for Power Smoothie since bread isn’t very micronutrient-rich (replacing it with potatoes, for Perfect Health Dieters, or meat, for paleo followers, would only improve the results).
|Micronutrient||% from Power Smoothie (fortification excluded) – scaled to 2k cal/day||% from Power Smoothie (fortification included) – scaled to 2k cal/day||Comments|
|Default recipe||Yogurt recipe||Default recipe||Peanut butter recipe|
|Fiber_TD_(g)||90%||91%||90%||102%||You’d expect this to be hard to get from a drink, but blended blueberries and spinach have it.|
|Calcium_(mg)||79%||150%||199%||201%||Spinach, soy milk, bread all have some. Dairy has a lot.|
|Iron_(mg)||211%||214%||211%||225%||From spinach, soy milk, bread|
|Magnesium_(mg)||147%||167%||147%||169%||Generally not hard to get|
|Phosphorus_(mg)||125%||259%||125%||150%||Generally not hard to get|
|Potassium_(mg)||77%||97%||107%||116%||Hard to get. No food has a lot on its own. Potatoes, beans, fish, dairy, leafy greens, bananas all have some.|
|Sodium_(mg)||88%||107%||88%||106%||Easy to get, often thought to be something one should avoid rather than pursue|
|Zinc_(mg)||46%||81%||46%||60%||Hard to get a lot of zinc w/o animal products.|
|Copper_(mg)||232%||249%||232%||268%||Generally not hard to get|
|Manganese_(mg)||315%||321%||315%||359%||Generally not hard to get|
|Selenium_(µg)||178%||293%||178%||187%||Generally not hard to get|
|Vit_C_(mg)||80%||77%||80%||80%||Found mostly in fruits and vegetables. Using oranges or kale would dramatically increase this (the standard Power Smoothie fruits/veggies aren’t great Vitamin C sources)|
|Thiamin_(mg)||132%||142%||132%||137%||In a variety of foods with no easy-to-describe pattern.|
|Riboflavin_(mg)||148%||287%||148%||152%||In a variety of foods with no easy-to-describe pattern.|
|Niacin_(mg)||106%||128%||106%||154%||In a variety of foods with no easy-to-describe pattern.|
|Panto_Acid_mg)||117%||162%||117%||130%||In a variety of foods with no easy-to-describe pattern.|
|Vit_B6_(mg)||204%||235%||204%||222%||Generally not hard to get|
|Folate_Tot_(µg)||189%||198%||189%||202%||Found mostly in beans and greens|
|Choline_Tot_ (mg)||60%||71%||60%||66%||Eggs have a lot; almost impossible to get much of without eggs, fish or meat|
|Vit_B12_(µg)||0%||210%||250%||250%||Fish, dairy, eggs and meat all have it; non-animal foods have ~none.|
|Vit_A_RAE||187%||181%||187%||187%||Found mostly in green vegetables, carrots and potatoes|
|Vit_E_(mg)||75%||81%||75%||99%||Very few good sources of this acc to my data set. Almonds, sweet potatoes and spinach among the best.|
|Vit_D_(µg)||0%||0%||150%||150%||Practically nonexistent outside of fish and eggs, acc to my data set.|
|Vit_K_(µg)||954%||917%||954%||954%||Almost all from spinach. Leafy greens have tons of K.|
Bottom line – If you lived off of Power Smoothie you’d get your full dietary reference intake for most nutrients, and (when including the fortification of soy milk) at least ~50% for everything. The nutrients that end up at less than 100% in these columns are either generally very hard to get, or very hard to get without animal products.
How does Power Smoothie compare to other micronutrient-rich meals?
The above looks pretty good, but is it good in the scheme of things? What sort of realistic meals can I eat that will get me my micronutrients as efficiently as possible, and how does Power Smoothie compare to these meals?
This is a reasonably tough question to definitively answer, but I played around a lot to get a feel for it, and my broad conclusion is that Power Smoothie is reasonably tough to beat for micronutrient efficiency, especially if you add the stipulation that you don’t want this meal to include fish or meat (which are generally logistically and ethically challenging). Some observations on this point (see my spreadsheet, specifically the part to the right of the blue column under the “Multiple diets” sheet, for details):
- Spinach seems to be roughly the best vegetable, and eating just spinach outperforms eating a calorically equivalent amount of a wide variety of vegetables of different types. The main challenger to spinach is kale, which also goes well in a Power Smoothie (the main important differences are a bit more potassium, a lot more vitamin C, less folate, less vitamin A and E). (To see this, check out the rightmost set of columns on the “Common foods” sheet and see how spinach ranks compared to other vegetables; there is also a comparison on the “Multiple diets” sheet that pits spinach against a balanced set of vegetables.)
- Blueberries and bananas do pretty well compared to most fruits and fruit combinations. Their weak point is vitamin C, which you can get more of from oranges and strawberries, but I find those less convenient for Power Smoothie.
- Generally speaking, the easiest way to get the bulk of your micronutrients is from either fruits, vegetables, or (especially) some sort of bean product, including soy milk. Soy milk does about as well as other bean products such as black beans and lentils. Other non-animal-products don’t seem to have much value added (to see this, you’ll have to play around on the “Multiple diets” sheet by editing the servings allotments for a bunch of the bean+fruit+vegetable combos.)
- Animal products are great for providing zinc, iron and B-complex vitamins (B6, B12, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid) but don’t have much else to contribute; bean products seem like a better bet overall.
- Even an absurdly balanced 2000-calorie diet (see the “More complete meal” on the “Multiple diets” sheet) doesn’t do a ton better than a Power Smoothie diet. It does clear the 100% line on calcium, potassium and zinc, but not by a lot; it is below the 100% line on choline, vitamin D and vitamin E. (It does do very well on vitamin C and vitamin B12, without needing fortification.)
- The best way to do really well on micronutrients, better than Power Smoothie, is to stick to consuming fruits, veggies and bean products (including soy milk) – see column W. The weakness of Power Smoothie as I’ve constructed it is that it includes some micronutrient-poor ingredients such as protein powder, oil, and bread which are more for the purposes of making sure you get enough protein, fat and carbs. Swapping these out for bean products would get better micronutrient results, but possibly less satisfaction; swapping them out for fish would get better results all around, but introduces the inconvenience and ethics challenges of animal products.
In brief, spinach and soy milk do about as well as any other vegetables and bean products; vegetables, bean products and animal products (and fruits, which Power Smoothie has) are the things you need to put together in order to hit 100% on all your micronutrients.
What about “overdosing” on micronutrients? As far as I can tell, it’s practically impossible to put together an even somewhat realistic whole-foods diet that gets close to 100% of everything without getting way over 100% of some things. Some of these nutrients are just way more plentiful (relative to reference intake), in just about everything, than others (for example, copper and phosphorous vs. potassium). By far the biggest “overdose” in the above table is from vitamin K, which is going to happen anytime you eat leafy green vegetables, which are good; other “overdoses” are pretty minor (factor of 3 or less).
I haven’t talked about the optimal balance or nature of carbohydrates vs. protein vs. fat. I think that very little is known about this. What does seem clear is that:
- All three are needed.
- Power Smoothie gets most of its protein from purified protein powder, which has good amino acid balance and seems like a generally reasonable thing to consume (I’ve seen no serious objections).
- Using flaxseed oil in Power Smoothie means you’ll be getting a type of fat that (as discussed below) no one seems to think is bad for you. Yogurt and nuts are more debatable as fat sources but still seemingly less risky than e.g. fat from meat.
- Power Smoothie has very little carbohydrates and leaves it up to you to decide what sorts of carbohydrates, and how much, to consume (I generally find it logistically easier to consume carbohydrates than to consume protein and healthy fat, so haven’t felt the need to include them in a Power Smoothie; low-carb proponents should of course be highly comfortable with Power Smoothie on its own).
- The ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates that I consume when I have a Power Smoothie has basically been calibrated for convenience and satisfaction. Feel free to play with it yourself; the balance can be easily adjusted by playing with the recipes (most of the protein comes from the protein powder; most of the fat comes from the oil or nuts or yogurt; most of the carbs are from outside the Power Smoothie).
Nutrients and considerations not analyzed above
There are a lot of things that might be good to consume. There are theories about the optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats; there are micronutrients that I don’t have data on (as far as food composition or government-recommended allotment); there are all sorts of potential questions about whether some nutrients are better absorbed in one form than another. I haven’t been comprehensive; rather, I’ve tried to take a basic look at “what it would look like to have a good whole-foods diet if you were targeting recommended amounts of each micronutrient,” and concluded that (a) Power Smoothie would be about as good a meal as anything (particularly when excluding eggs/fish/meat) for such a diet; (b) such a diet generally implies that you should eat fruits, vegetables, bean products, and animal products.