Your “Healthy” Smoothie isn’t so Healthy Afterall

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Pink raspberry smoothie in a mason jar

If you or your children have made the switch from soda and energy drinks to “healthier” fruit smoothies, either purchased or homemade, you may want to moderate your intake.

Many smoothies have up to 3 g/100 ml of sugar or approximately 2.5 tsp in a 3.5-oz serving. That can account for up to one-half of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake.

This comes from Medical News Today, who recently published a piece outlining the sugary nature of many so-called healthy drinks.

From the article:

“New research, published in the online journal BMJ Open, describes the sugar content of fruit drinks, natural juices, and smoothies, in particular, as “unacceptably high.”

According to Yale Health, the average American consumes around 22 tsp of added sugar every day; for teens, the figure is closer to 34. One 12-oz can of soda contains 10 tsps of sugar.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend no more than 3-4 tsps of sugar a day for children and 5 tsps for teens.”

Fruit Juice and Sugar

In general, awareness about the potential dangers of soda, sports drinks, and other sweetened drinks has increased among Americans. 

Many of my patients drink sugary beverages in moderation or don’t consume them at all.

Unfortunately, sometimes people think smoothies or 100% fruit juice are safer than soda. In reality, it’s not that innocent.

Even 100% fruit juice drinks can have just as much sugar as a soda, sports drink, or sweet tea– if not more.

From Authority Nutrition, here’s an enlightening breakdown for a 12-ounce portion of Coca Cola versus a 1212-ounceortion of apple juice:

  • Coca Cola: 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons)
  • Apple juice: 165 calories and 39 grams of sugar (9.8 teaspoons)

Fruit juice, and using fruit juice in your smoothie, does contain important vitamins and minerals, but it’s sugary and high in calories, too.

We recommend simply eating whole fruit instead. When you eat fruit, your body processes the sugars in a healthier way– and you’re also getting an important dose of fiber.

By drinking fruit juice, even in smoothie form, you’re missing out on the fiber and going straight for the sugar.

Moderation and Hydration

That’s not to say you can never have a smoothie, or that your children always need to stay away from fruit juice.

As with anything sugary, moderation is key. If you’re going to drink a smoothie, take care of your teeth afterwards. Limit yourself to one small serving per day, or even less.

And, as always, drink plenty of water. If you’re craving a smoothie, or feel like you need an extra snack to get through the day, try drinking a glass of water first. Oftentimes we’re not hydrated, which leads us to think we’re hungry. It can also lead us to crave sugary drinks.

As the weather warms up, I recommend reading this article I wrote last month.

Your “healthy” smoothie might not be as healthy as you think it is. That’s not to say you have to eliminate smoothies from your life. Instead, moderate your intake like you do for other sugary beverages.

~Dr. Marea White