Smoothies: Are They Good for You?

The nutritional value of a smoothie can change drastically based on the specific ingredients used to make it. Smoothies made with whole-milk yogurt, for example, will have more fat than smoothies made with water or non-fat yogurt. Smoothies made with milk, yogurt, or water will have less sugar than those made with fruit juice. Here are three examples of brand-name smoothies and their unique nutritional profiles. 

Nutrition Information

The nutritional value of a smoothie can change drastically based on the specific ingredients used to make it. Smoothies made with whole-milk yogurt, for example, will have more fat than smoothies made with water or non-fat yogurt. Smoothies made with milk, yogurt, or water will have less sugar than those made with fruit juice. Here are three examples of brand-name smoothies and their unique nutritional profiles. 

Small Baskin Robbins Fruit Cream Strawberry Smoothie: 

  • Calories: 530
  • Fat: 15 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0.55 grams
  • Sodium: 0.29 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 90 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 85 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams

Strawberry Banana V8 Smoothie: 

  • Calories: 91
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 0.71 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 18 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

Yoplait Strawberry Swamp Smoothie:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Cholesterol: 0.05 grams
  • Sodium: 0.9 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 23 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 20 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams

As you can see, despite all of these foods being marketed as strawberry smoothies, the nutritional profile of each is vastly different. It’s important to read the label on a smoothie to determine its nutritional value before making a purchase. 

When making your own smoothies, measure your ingredients, calculating your calories and nutrients before putting anything in the blender. That way, you know exactly what your nutritional profile will look like and can make the best decisions about what to include. 

Potential Health Benefits of Smoothies

Smoothies can be beneficial to your health, and can even be used as a weight loss tool in certain circumstances. If you’re the type of person who’s content replacing a meal with a smoothie, you may benefit from adding more of these blended beverages to your life.

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Here are some additional upsides to smoothies: 

Increased Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

One great trait of smoothies is that you can sneak almost any fruit and many vegetables into them while still making them taste good. Studies show that eating sufficient fruits and vegetables each day reduces the risk of chronic diseases and helps you maintain a healthy body weight.. However, many people don’t meet their daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables.

If you’re one of the many people who struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables each day, adding smoothies to your diet may help. One smoothie can have two to three servings of fruits or veggies packed inside, making it easier to meet the mark. 

Increased Fiber Intake

Although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day, the average American is only taking in about 16 grams a day. This is a big deal, as poor fiber intake is linked not only to poor digestion but also to chronic illnesses like type II diabetes and heart disease.

Because smoothies are loaded with fruits and vegetables, they also tend to be loaded with fiber. This can help bridge the gap between your normal fiber intake and the USDA’s suggested fiber intake, lowering your risks of chronic illnesses and increasing your overall health. 

Potential Risks of Smoothies

For the most part, if you use a smoothie to replace a meal, you’ll be fine. The biggest problem with smoothies stems from using smoothies alongside meals to replace your drink. This can lead to eating too many calories overall throughout the day. For some people, however, smoothies can aggravate other issues:

Higher Blood Sugar Levels

Added sugars in your already-sweet smoothies can be especially bad for your body, and should be avoided if possible. But even if you’re making your smoothie yourself using all-natural ingredients, it can still have a lot of the natural sugar in it. After all, fruit is high in sugar, and smoothies contain a lot of fruit.

People with type II diabetes and other conditions that make sugar risky should be careful about consuming smoothies. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 13, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: “Closing America's Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit.”

Current Nutrition and Food Science: “Meal Replacement Beverage Twice a Day in Overweight and Obese Adults.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Smoothie.”

European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry: “The Sweet Danger of Added Sugar.”

Iranian Journal of Public Health: “Fruit and Vegetable Intake: Benefits and Progress of Nutrition Education Interventions- Narrative Review Article.”

New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station: “Build a Better Smoothie.”

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