Smoothies—Not So Smooth

Published on
 | By Lisa McComsey |

They’re a hot trend, but smoothies may not be so cool after all.

Have you noticed? Smoothies are everywhere—prepackaged in supermarket fridges, on the menus of fast-food joints and coffee chains, selling like hot cakes at smoothie stores like Jamba Juice, and of course, getting whipped up in our own blenders.

All that fruit! All those vitamins! Antioxidants up the wazoo! And all that deliciousness mixed up in one, portable container—what could be more healthful or convenient than this meal-on-the-go?

Here’s a bubble buster: Smoothies, we’ve learned, are little more than sugar bombs disguised as a healthy drinks. When you toss a cup of orange juice, a bunch of berries, a banana, and a dollop of non-dairy yogurt into your blender and give it a whirl, you end up with a giant glass of, yes, sugar.

Buy it from your favorite smoothie vendor, and things get even sweeter: High-fat, high-sugar ingredients like sweetened syrups and sherbets can slap you with a thousand-calorie beverage drenched in 100 grams of sugar.

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Better Choice

If you’re jonesing for a smoothie, stick to the occasional DIY version and watch your fruit (sugar) intake. Throw in some greens for added nutrition and heft. Your best low- and no-sugar ingredients include kale, spinach, avocado, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

Use water or unsweetened non-dairy milk—not juice—for your liquid and supplement with nutrient-dense add-ins, such as nut butters, flaxseed meal, chia or hemp seeds cacao nibs, cacao powder, vegan protein powder, cinnamon, and ginger.

My latest obsession is a cranberry smoothie, made with a small piece (about one-quarter) of banana, a half cup of cranberries, a hunk of fresh ginger, a piece of fresh turmeric, a dash of black pepper, and a quarter cup of water (adjust according to desired thickness).

It has a lot of “zing” and is refreshing as all get-out. Note: You can find frozen cranberries all year round in your grocery store’s freezer section; no need to wait till cranberry season.


Have a favorite smoothie recipe? Please do share in the comments section below.

Photos by TK. © 2020