Why Smoothies Aren't A Healthy Choice

You might think of a fruit smoothie as a healthy snack option, but it very much depends on the ingredients. An analysis of smoothies sold in Australian chain stores by CHOICE highlights that some smoothies have more kilojoules than you need in a single meal.

Smoothies picture from Shutterstock

CHOICE analysed 95 fruit-based drinks from popular chains, including Boost Juice, Donut King, Gloria Jean's, New Zealand Natural and Wendys. The results weren't pretty. 81 were rated as high in sugar (more than 7.5g per 100ml), and 13 had more than 1900 kilojoules in a typical serve.

As CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just explained in the release announcing the study: "Smoothies might have a healthy image but some are packed with hidden sugars like high-fructose syrup and fruit juice concentrates which pack a dense sugary punch when compared with a couple of pieces of fresh fruit. This makes smoothies more like a sugary meal than a snack.

Sugar isn't the only problem. Five of the smoothies sold at Muffin Break have more than 11 grams of saturated fat in a single serve.

There's a lot of variation in what counts as a 'small' or 'regular' serve at each chain, which makes choosing trickier. Some chains offer nutritional information, but this isn't yet a universal trend.

The simple solution? Skip smoothies altogether and eat a piece of fruit (or two) instead. Hit the link for CHOICE's recommendations for the best and worst choices.

Are smoothies and frappés healthy? [CHOICE]


    Why not make them yourself? you don't need to add all those sugars in.. just a few pieces of fruit, milk and ice is really all you need.

      Someone was reading The Age this morning


        @drew - it might be more likely that Choice put out something called a press release which is designed to get journalists to write articles from them.....

    This article, like most articles/studies when it comes to health, is incredibly oversimplified. They scare people with macro-nutrients (protein, fat, carbs/sugar) and never seem to mention micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals).

    By their logic, a single whole orange is "unhealthy" and high in sugar because it contains roughly 13g of sugar. If you juiced an orange you'd be lucky to get 100ml per orange (their "high in sugar" rating was only 7.5g per 100ml). So let's say you juiced 3 oranges which yielded 300ml of juice with around 39g of sugar. To put that into context, a can of coke (355ml) has around 39g of sugar also... by their logic, the orange juice is just as unhealthy as the coke... how ridiculous.

      When was the last time you sat down and ate three whole oranges in one serving? Juicing fruit strips out all of the fibre, so there is no trigger to tell your body that the huge glass of fructose you just chugged should be enough food for now, thanks. Healthier than a glass of coke? Sure, what isn't. But you'd do yourself a bigger favour by eating the fruit whole.

      Actually, from the point of view of sugar, the fruit juice, at the least the kind you buy, is worse. Next time you happen to have a can of Coke and, say, a bottle of Berri's orange juice in front of you, check the sugar levels. You might find that the juice sugar is actually higher than the Coke sugar.

    I already avoid juices and smoothies due to the high KJs, that it's easy to forget about. Although i did find it funny that the high KJ Boost Juice smoothies are called "Breakfast To Go". So i guess the reason they number of KJs is equivalent to a meal, is that they're a meal replacement??

    The article headline is very misleading (as is often the case with Lifehacker) however the message that Boost Juice style smoothies AREN'T healthy is a very important one to get out to the huddling masses who are unfortunately not blessed with the necessary natural mental capacity to easily make informed choices.

    My homemade smoothies are however a concentrated health bomb designed to deliver awesomeness to every part of the body!

    Kale shakes baby

    "Why Shop-Bought Smoothies Aren’t A Healthy Choice"

    fixed that for ya Angus ;)

    The "store-bought" proviso is really important. If you make anything at home you have complete control over the ingredients and therefore how healthy (or not) the end result is. This is true of all food you can make at home - from hamburgers to pizza and cookies through to smoothies.

      That all depends on both users interpretation or comprehension of "healthy" when it comes to baking/home made food. I was searching for a good home made muesli bar recipe the other day (one that comes in under the dietician guidelines of 600kj per serve for a snack - as per the aforementioned article in The Age), and came across numerous blog posts where the writers were so proud they'd made their own healthy muesli bars at home. However, with recipes calling for 2 cups of sugar (alongside 3 cups of store bought muesli - often high in sugar, fat etc.) or an entire can of condensed milk for 10 bars (a recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson, known for not being shy around calorie and fat-laden ingredients) they would not come close to being healthy. Even healthier versions of muesli bars barely scrape under the 600kj mark.

    I don't know why people think something home made is healthy just because it is home made. Last time I checked fresh fruit was still chocked full of fructose, and milk was still 3% fat. Fresh fruit doesn't have nutritional information stamped on it. Just remember the go for 2 and 5 guide and be sensible about the serving sizes.

      3% fat, are you claiming that's unhealthy? You need fat to live, not a lot, but if all our food had 3% fat then it'd be a vast improvement over a typical diet.

        Full cream milk is 3% fat. That is a fact, not very much hey. Paul's full cream is 3.8 g per 100 ml, dairy farmers is 3.4 g. Coles 3 star mince is 15% fat (a likely lifehacker staple)!

        If people used regular full-fat yoghurt rather than the fat-free muck with 14% sugar, they'd be a lot better off.

    To everyone banging on about fat, sugars etc, please read Heretic's comment. Nutrition is so much more than fat and carbs! Reducing fruit to its sugar content misses the point.

    If fresh fruits aren't a healthy choice, then smoothies from the sources mentioned in the article certainly can't be. Fresh fruits are just natural and that's my takeaway from the article.

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