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Daily Harvest Review: As Healthy As They Claim?

Daily Harvest Review: As Healthy As They Claim?


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.
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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

 

Daily Harvest is a meal and smoothie delivery service that features high levels of produce. The company claims they’re on a mission to improve human and planetary health. 

The company has beautiful branding and a great website, but many other meal replacement products we’ve recently reviewed such as Kachava make similar claims but fall short in terms of formulation.

In this article we’ll review the ingredients in Daily Harvest’s most popular products to determine if they’re actually healthy, and how they compare to other popular meal replacement companies.

Daily Harvest Smoothie Reviews

Daily Harvest’s smoothies are very nutrient-dense, and almost free of filler ingredients. A few of their smoothies, like their top-selling Strawberry + Peach smoothie, contain citric acid.

While this flavoring agent can be sourced from citrus fruits, 99% of the world’s citric acid is manufactured from an allergenic fungus called Aspergillus niger, as detailed in this medical review of the ingredient published in the Toxicology Reports journal.

The above-linked review highlighted how manufactured citric acid sourced from the fungus can cause whole-body inflammatory reactions in some patients, and thus we recommend avoiding it as a precaution because it has no nutritive value and some risk.

If Daily Harvest can clarify their citric acid sourcing, and if they do source from citrus fruits exclusively, we’ll change our stance on this and recommend all of their smoothies.

Plenty of their smoothies are free of citric acid, and we would recommend these. For example, their Chocolate + Blueberry smoothie contains many whole fruits and nuts such as organic blueberries and organic dates, and even the flavorings are whole foods (vanilla bean powder, himalayan sea salt).

In several of their smoothies, like their Watermelon + Dragon Fruit smoothie, Daily Harvest uses organic psyllium husk powder as a thickener, which is a great choice from a health context as this ingredient is very high in fiber. 

We’ve recommended psyllium husk powder in several of our research reviews, including as an alternative to cornstarch, because many Americans don’t consume enough fiber daily, and this ingredient can also benefit patients seeking weight loss, as high-fiber powders increase satiation without increasing calories.

Daily Harvest Meal Reviews

Unlike most of the meal replacement or delivery options we’ve previously reviewed, Daily Harvest offers a wide variety of whole foods options.

A few of their Harvest Bowls contain citric acid, and we would recommend avoiding these until Daily Harvest clarifies sourcing, but for the most part these are the most nutritious meal delivery options we’ve reviewed to date.

Daily Harvest’s Spinach + Shiitake Grits bowl is a good example of how healthy these offerings are. It contains 15 different whole foods ingredients like organic millet, organic portobello mushrooms, organic cashew butter and much more. The meal provides 15% of the Daily Value (DV) potassium and 20% DV iron in only 200 calories.

One of the main benefits we see with Daily Harvest is the surprising diversity of produce. Medical research has conclusively proven that dietary diversity (meaning eating many different types of healthy food) is essential for a healthy microbiome (gut). Most meal delivery services we’ve previously reviewed may have used a handful of vegetables, but Daily Harvest offers the greatest breadth of produce, even offering relatively rare items like dragon fruit and turkey tail mushroom.

Our only criticism of the meals is that many of them are relatively low in calories. This isn’t a bad thing in the context of an overall healthy diet, but some of the offerings on Daily Harvest would not satisfy the caloric requirements for one of three daily meals.

Caloric needs vary drastically, but as a very broad average adult women are consuming 2,000 calories at maintenance and adult men are consuming 2,500 based on a medical review. People who are physically active or overweight will have higher caloric maintenance levels.

Other than the Harvest Bakes, the vast majority of Daily Harvest’s offerings, including the smoothies, seem to be 400 calories or fewer. 

The Strawberry + Goji Berry oat bowl, for example, is 280 calories. The broccoli rice + dill pilaf Harvest Bowl is 390 calories. The blackberry + majik chia bowl is 330 calories. We’re not cherry-picking results here; most of the offerings other than Harvest Bakes fall in these calorie ranges.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy and nutritious snack, we just feel that consumers should be aware that most of Daily Harvest’s offerings are not meal replacements unless eaten two at a time based on average caloric need. 

Their products are also quite expensive, which isn’t surprising because they use high-quality ingredients, but it may be a challenge for a lower-or-middle-income consumer to afford multiple Daily Harvest offerings a day. Their products are much cheaper and much healthier than going out to a restaurant to eat in most cases though.

From a health perspective we recommend all of Daily Harvest’s meals which are free of citric acid. We find that in all categories of products they sell, the company prioritizes nutrient-dense whole foods.

Daily Harvest Mylk Review

One of the categories where Daily Harvest really stands out in comparison to the competition is their plant-based milk alternative called Mylk.

Their marketing materials suggest that most commercial nut milks are full of questionable filler ingredients and they’re right. Almond Breeze’s original almond milk contains the following ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), cane sugar, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, sunflower lecithin, gellan gum, Vitamin A palmitate, Vitamin D2, D-Alpha-Tocopherol (natural Vitamin E).

So one of the most popular almond milk products contains a relatively large amount of added sugar (7 grams per serving), which we know from medical research to be harmful in excess.

It contains emulsifiers and fillers like gellan gum and sunflower lecithin, which while not actively harmful provide no nutritive value. It also contains a ton of synthetic vitamins included to make the Nutrition Facts label look more impressive and make uneducated consumers believe it’s the almonds providing all of those nutrients.

Daily Harvest’s Mylk only contains ground almonds, water and himalayan sea salt. Their Almond + Vanilla Mylk contains ground almonds, water, himalayan sea salt and vanilla bean powder. 

Both options are significantly healthier than most commercial alternative milk products, and Daily Harvest Mylk is the only milk alternative product we have recommended to date. It’s also affordable in comparison with their other offerings, costing less than $1 per serving.

Daily Harvest Scoops Review

Daily Harvest sells ice cream called Scoops, and they’ve impressively avoided added sugar entirely; using natural ingredients instead.

The Scoops contain a variation of maple syrup, organic coconut cream and sweet potato puree to provide the sugar, which is a much healthier alternative to regular grocery store ice cream which contains significant amounts of added cane sugar.

All three of these ingredients are healthy. Maple syrup is shown to have significant levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium and is a great processed sugar alternative when used in moderation.

Medical research has shown that adding coconut to a standard diet improved cholesterol levels.

Sweet potato was reviewed by medical researchers in the Advances in Food and Nutrition Research journal and the study authors concluded that “The sweet potato could be considered as an excellent novel source of natural health-promoting compounds, such as beta-carotene and anthocyanins, for the functional food market”.

The level of added sugar in Daily Harvest scoops (all from natural sources) is a moderate amount, typically under 20 g, which should have no negative impact on blood sugar in healthy adults.

We recommend all Daily Harvest Scoops products, and this is the first sweet or snack product we’ve recommended to date. We find these to be excellent and healthy options for consumers who have a sweet tooth, and it’s uncommon to find a brand actually willing to experiment with ingredient formulation to make their products healthier rather than just use processed sugar.

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Conclusion

Daily Harvest is the best meal delivery/replacement service we’ve reviewed by far from a nutritional standpoint. We would recommend any item on their menu that doesn't include citric acid.

We hope that Daily Harvest either removes citric acid from their formulations, or clarifies their sourcing of this ingredient, so we could recommend the entire brand in the future.

While some of the meals are relatively low in calories, they are all extremely healthy and contain an impressive range of different types of produce. It’s clear the founders actually care about the health of their customers based on their formulations, which is refreshing in an industry where marketing is typically the only concern.

The cost is prohibitive for lower-income consumers to order regularly, but even lower-and-middle income consumers can afford Daily Harvest for occasional meals and snacks because it’s much cheaper than eating out at a restaurant.





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