The 5 Unhealthiest Smoothies in Canada
A smoothie can be a healthy snack, but some—like popular options at major chain restaurants—are packed with calories.
Tim Hortons Real Fruit Smoothies
These smoothies are low in fat and count as a full serving of fruit, but they don’t contain any fibre because the fruit flavour is made up of fruit purée and juice concentrates, not whole fruits. As well, all flavours contain three added sugars: glucose-fructose (high fructose corn syrup), glucose and molasses. (Here’s why you may want to increase your fibre intake.)
The culprit: Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothie with Yogurt, 18 oz size
This smoothie has 290 calories and 67 g of carbohydrates, mostly from 60 g of sugar. While the yogurt does contribute 5 g of protein, the calories and sugar content is too high for a snack, which should be about 150 calories. As well, this smoothie only provides 8 percent of your daily value of vitamin C.
What to order instead: Strawberry Banana Fruit Smoothie with yogurt, 10 oz size
Your best choice at 150 calories, it is the right size for a snack. It also has a lower carbohydrate count of 34 g and contains 2 g of protein. This smoothie gives you 35 percent of your daily value of vitamin C.
McDonald’s Real Fruit Smoothies
These are sold in two flavours, either with or without yogurt. The fruit is from purée and juice concentrate, with cellulose powder added for fibre. All smoothies contain added sugar and artificial flavours, and are low in fat, ranging from 0-1 g fat per serving. Depending on the size, all of them contribute 70 to 140 percent of your daily value of vitamin C.
The culprit: Strawberry Banana with Yogurt, 22 oz size
This smoothie has the highest calorie and carbohydrate counts, with 330 calories and 77 g of carbohydrates, mostly from 70 g of sugar. On the plus side, there is 4 g of fibre and the yogurt contributes 3 g protein.
What to order instead: Wild Berry with Yogurt, 12 oz size
It contains 210 calories, which is still about 60 calories more than the 150 calories you should be consuming as a snack. While the 48 g of carbohydrates this beverage contains is still high, it’s a better choice than the larger, more sugary smoothie above. It also has 3 g fibre and 2 g protein.
These smoothies are healthier than most because they are made with fresh frozen fruit and pure juice. But even fruit-based drinks can pack a big calorie punch when eaten in large quantities.
The culprit: Funky Monkey, 24 oz size
Funky Monkey has a whopping 585 calories, 8.8 g of fat, 110 g of carbohydrates and 20 g of protein, making it more like a large meal in a cup. Even if you ordered a Funky Monkey in a 12 oz size, the calorie and carbohydrate counts would still be about twice what you need for a snack. This smoothie has 30 percent of your daily need for vitamin C.
What to order instead: Banana Beach, 12 oz size with a protein booster
This is the healthiest smoothie we found. With an added protein booster, it is an excellent choice for a snack at 158 calories, 0.3 g of fat, 38 g carbohydrates and 11 g protein. The balanced nutrients in this drink means your blood sugar will not rise too quickly and you will be satisfied longer after consuming it. Banana Beach also provides you with 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
Sugar is the second or third ingredient listed in the nutritional information for Fruit Chillers, sometimes before fruit. (Here’s what happens when you stop eating sugar.) They don’t have any fat or protein, but all contain added dextrin to help deliver 4-6 grams of fibre. Vitamin C is added so they contain 100 to 200 percent of you daily value.
The culprit: Strawberry Fruit Chiller, 24 oz size
At 570 calories, 141 g of carbohydrates that largely come from 135 g of sugar, this smoothie is more like an indulgent dessert than a healthy snack. And consider this: a large Coca-Cola (730 mL, or 24.7 oz) contains 320 calories and 82 g carbohydrates.
What to order instead: Matcha Green Tea Chiller with 2-percent milk, 12 oz size
While this isn’t a fruit smoothie, this cold drink only contains 140 calories, 2.5 g fat and 26 g carbohydrates. Sipping this Chiller will also give you 4 g of protein. While it has no fibre or vitamin C, it is the right size for a snack and offers a much better balance of nutrients than the culprit above.
Most of this chain’s smoothies contain natural frozen fruit. They are all made with low-fat frozen yogurt and skim milk, with no added sugar beyond what’s already in the frozen yogurt.
The culprit: Moka, 225 mL size (7.6 oz)
Moka is almost a meal-size item with 480 calories and 92 g of carbohydrates and 23 g of protein. This is the only smoothie at Cultures that doesn’t contain any fruit; it’s made with coffee powder instead. The Moka offers 2 percent of your daily value of vitamin C and only 1 g of fibre.
What to order instead: Strawberry, 225 mL size (7.6 oz)
While the 290-calorie count of this beverage is still too high for a snack, it’s your best smoothie choice at this chain. It also has a better balance of nutrients, with only 29 g of sugar and 14 g of protein. It also contains 30 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, but just 1 g of fibre.
Tip: If you’re craving this smoothie for a snack, ask for an empty cup and split it with a friend.
This story was originally published in September 2011.
Next, check out our recipes for healthy smoothies under 200 calories.