When the weather heats up, it’s great to cool down with a refreshing smoothie. But, while many people think all smoothies are healthy, that’s definitely not the case – especially when they come from popular coffee chains. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by registered dietitian Carol Harrison of Citrus.
“Smoothies, of course, have got this great health halo going. A lot of the time we’ll have a smoothie and we’ll think, ‘Yes! I’ve made a healthy choice,’” says Carol. “But you’d never guess that these coffee shop smoothies have anywhere between nine and 23 teaspoons of sugar.”
“Some of this is certainly coming from the fruit, but no doubt there’s added sugar in there.”
That’s a lot of extra sugar – especially if it’s your kids that are slurping down these frozen drinks.
“I think around 200 calories is a reasonable amount of calories to go by,” Carol says. “Maybe just forget about the amount of sugar that’s in it – if you stick at about 200 calories, I think you’re good.”
“The healthiest is going to be the smoothie you make at home with lots of fruit,” Carol says. But, if you can’t resist the urge, our taste testers round up five popular coffee chain smoothies to give you the skinny on which is the healthiest and best tasting.
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Timothy’s Tropical Mango Smoothie (Carol’s favourite)
This yummy option goes over well with both Andrea and Carol.
“It’s really tasty,” Carol immediately says. “I can taste like a puree mango in it. It’s lovely – and it’s quite light too, it’s not thick.”
“I feel like it’s pureed mango and ice,” Andrea says.
This light-tasting option won Carol’s vote for her favourite smoothie.
“I have to say I really liked the mango smoothie,” she says. “It was sweet but not overpowering, and because there was quite a bit of ice in it felt sort of light and refreshing.”
Second Cup Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie (Least healthy option)
“Woah, this is really sweet,” Andrea immediately notices.
“This is very sweet,” agrees Carol. “I’m tasting mostly strawberry but a little bit of lemon.”
Our taste testers were spot on regarding the overpowering taste of added sugar – Carol ranked this as the unhealthiest option of the bunch.
“It was just way over the top in terms of added sugar,” she says. “So, 370 calories, but you’re not getting a whole lot of good nutrition.”
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Tim Hortons Mixed Berry Real Fruit Smoothie (Andrea’s favourite)
“This has definitely got a yogourt and mixed berry combination,” Carol says of this smoothie’s taste.
“This one actually feels like a healthier drink,” Andrea says. “Maybe it’s the yogourt?”
Carol says that could add some extra benefits to the smoothie. “That’s going to pack a little bit of protein and calcium in it,” she says.
The yogurty taste made this option Andrea’s pick. “I just found that it wasn’t as sweet as the rest,”
she says. “It was a really quenching smoothie and I enjoyed it.”
McDonald’s Strawberry Banana Smoothie
“I like the balance between strawberry and banana,” Carol says. “Because sometimes the banana can overpower the strawberry and I think they’ve got a good mix here.”
“This feels like actual fruit blended together,” Andrea comments. “But there is sugar added.”
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Starbucks Chocolate Smoothie (Healthiest option)
Immediately, Andrea notices this smoothie has a strong hint of banana.
“I like the chocolate/banana combination,” Carol says.
“It’s thick though,” adds Andrea.
“It is quite thick,” agrees Carol. “And the banana gives it a real creamy taste as well, doesn’t it?”
Both Andrea and Carol agree that it doesn’t taste as sweet as some of the other options.
This chocolate smoothie is the healthiest of the bunch – yes, even though it’s chocolate.
“You get the best return on nutrients for your calories,” explains Carol. “So yes, it’s got 300 calories for a medium size – but I would suggest getting a small – but you’re getting 20 per cent of your calcium for the day, seven grams of fibre and actually 20 grams of protein.”
“So it helps to keep you feeling full.”