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8 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Chain Smoothies

8 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Chain Smoothies


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Are any of these smoothies your favorites?

While smoothies from your local fast-food chain can be nutritious, often containing fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants, they can sometimes be very unhealthy depending on what’s in them.

Even though it’s not smoothie season, you may soon find yourself craving one of these chilled, sweet drinks when it’s a little warmer outside. When that happens, you may run to your nearest smoothie provider, such as Jamba Juice or Smoothie King or even Starbucks or McDonald’s. While smoothies from your local fast-food chain can be nutritious, often containing fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants, they can sometimes be very unhealthy depending on what’s in them.

8 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Chain Smoothies (Slideshow)

Since smoothies contain fruit, they tend to be fairly high in sugar already. And oftentimes, fast-food chains add extra sugar and additional additives to make their drinks even sweeter. The addition of these ingredients can drive up the amount of calories, fat, sodium, carbs, and sugar in your favorite smoothie, making it a lot less healthy than you may have thought it was.

Not all fast-food chain smoothie drinks are unhealthy, but we found a few that you should be wary of, as they’re significantly high in calories, fat, sodium, carbs, and sugar. One of the unhealthiest smoothies, the Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo’d, has a calorie count as high as 770 with 20 grams of fat and 109 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce serving. Another smoothie, the Planet Smoothie PBJ, has a calorie count of 710 with 28 grams of fat and 64 grams of sugar. Take a look at our slideshow to see other fast-food chain smoothies you should watch out for.


The Best & Worst Fast-Food Smoothies

I&aposm obsessed with smoothies. Maybe it&aposs the heat. Maybe it&aposs all the fresh berries my husband and I have been picking at the berry farm. We&aposve been going crazy with our blender-a handful of berries, some yogurt and a little ice. Cover, blend, and presto! A tasty, satisfying breakfast (or snack) to grab and go.

Smoothies seem so inherently healthy-one refreshing drink can help you get a few servings of fruit, which boasts fiber and antioxidants, and some calcium from yogurt. But many fast-food versions are just vessels for delivering spoonfuls of sugar through a straw. Find out the best and worst smoothies at fast food restaurants.

-Penelope Wall, Senior Interactive Producer

Pictured: Jamba Juice Strawberries Wild

Diet Busting Drink: Jamba Juice Strawberries Wild (30 oz.), 510 calories, 118 grams total sugars

Lighter Option to Order: Jamba Juice All Fruit Smoothie: Mega Mango (22 oz.), 340 calories, 85 grams total sugars

Better Option to Make at Home: Thermos-Ready Smoothie (16 oz.), 288 calories, 43 grams total sugars (Bonus: 0 grams added sugars)

Total Savings vs. Diet Busting Drink: 222 calories, 75 grams total sugars. Plus, our Thermos-Ready Smoothie has more protein and is high in fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin C and antioxidants

Pictured: McDonald&aposs Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Diet Busting Drink: McDonald&aposs Strawberry Banana Smoothie (22 oz.), 330 calories, 77 grams total sugars

Lighter Option to Order: McDonald&aposs Wild Berry Smoothie (12 oz.), 210 calories, 44 grams total sugars

Better Option to Make at Home: Banana-Berry Smoothie (8 oz.), 135 calories, 18 grams total sugars (Bonus: 0 grams added sugars)

Total Savings vs. Diet Busting Drink: 195 calories, 59 grams total sugars. Plus, our bright and easy Banana-Berry Smoothie packs two servings of fruit, almost an entire day&aposs worth of Vitamin C, plus soy protein and fiber.

Pictured: Dunkin&apos Donuts Strawberry Fruit Coolatta

Diet Busting Drink: Dunkin&apos Donuts Strawberry Fruit Coolatta (Large, 32. oz.), 470 calories, 114 grams total sugars

Lighter Option to Order: Dunkin&apos Donuts Orange Fruit Coolatta (Small, 16 oz.), 210 calories, 54 grams total sugars

Better Option to Make at Home: Creamy Raspberry Smoothie (8 oz.), 249 calories, 20 grams total sugars (Bonus: 0 grams added sugars)

Total Savings vs. Diet Busting Drink: 221 calories, 94 grams total sugars. Plus, our Creamy Raspberry Smoothie packs a healthy dose of Vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium.

Pictured: Starbucks Chocolate Smoothie

Diet Busting Drink: Starbucks Chocolate Smoothie made with 2% milk (16 oz.), 300 calories, 34 grams total sugars

Lighter Option to Order: Starbucks Orange Mango Smoothie made with nonfat milk (16oz), 260 calories, 37 grams of total sugar

Better Option to Make at Home: Wake Up Smoothie (8 oz.), 157 calories, 17 grams total sugars (Bonus: 0 grams added sugars)

Total Savings vs. Diet Busting Drink: 143 calories, 17 grams total sugars. When it comes to calories Starbucks is a worthy competitor, but at second glance our Wake Up Smoothie excels with more than 100 percent of your daily value for Vitamin C and 16 percent of your daily value for fiber.

Pictured: Burger King&aposs Tropical Mango Smoothie

Diet Busting Drink: Burger King&aposs Tropical Mango Smoothie (Large), 450 calories, 85 grams of total sugars

Lighter Option to Order: Burger King&aposs Strawberry Banana Smoothie (Small), 200 calories, 40 grams of total sugar

Better Option to Make at Home: Hawaiian Smoothie (8oz), 81 calories, 21g of total sugars

Total Savings vs. Diet Busting Drink: 369 calories, 64 grams total sugars. Not only will this exotic number help you drop pounds in comparison with the average drive-thru smoothie, it is also contains papain a digestive enzyme found in papaya, which can help to settle a full stomach.


The 8 Worst Fast-Food Smoothies (and What to Order Instead)

Smoothies are now available at tons of nationwide coffee shops and fast-food joints. Good news for healthy eaters, right? Eh, maybe if you want an energy-sucking sugar crash to follow that 20 oz tropical fruit blend.

Truth is, most fast-food smoothies are seriously bad for you. Don't get us wrong, they taste delicious, but they're high in calories and often loaded with added sweeteners and super-sweet juice concentrates instead of actual fruit. Some even top 100 grams of sugar per serving&mdashthat's like an entire pint of ice cream! (Why not make your own healthy smoothie recipe with one of these options?)

But don't despair: For every sugar bomb, we found a healthier swap with no or minimal added sweeteners. (Get your sugar cravings under control and lose weight while still enjoying the sweets you love with Sugar Smart Express.)

Here, what to pick and what to pass on at eight popular chains:

Orange Julius

Worst: Tripleberry Smoothie
Berries are lower in sugar than most fruits, so it's a little confusing that Orange Julius' Tripleberry is so sweet. The 16-oz medium has 390 calories and 86 grams of sugar&mdashmore sweet stuff than you'd get from four Snickers bars.
Best: Light Strawberry Banana Smoothie
This classic flavor has 200 calories and 42 grams of sugar in the same 16-oz cup&mdashby far the best Julius offering.

Panera Bread

Worst: Low-Fat Wild Berry Smoothie
Don't put much stock in "healthy" claims like "low-fat." This smoothie is the worst of Panera's bunch, with 68 grams of sugar and 340 calories in a 16-oz medium cup. Part of the problem? It's made with sweetened vanilla yogurt.
Best: Superfruit Power Smoothie with Ginseng
You're way better off with this blend: It maxes out at 210 calories and 34 grams of sugar, thanks to plain Greek yogurt and a bit of the natural no-calorie sweetener stevia. Plus, it has more than double the protein of the Wild Berry flavor, so you stay fuller longer.

Tropical Smoothie Café
Worst: Kiwi Quencher Smoothie
This chain only serves one size (24 oz), so forget about portion control. If you choose this seemingly healthy flavor, you'll ingest 254 calories and 100 grams of sugar&mdashroughly the sweetness equivalent of an entire pint of ice cream.
Best: Detox Island Green Smoothie
This smoothie (made with spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, banana, and fresh ginger) clocks in at a far more reasonable 182 calories and 32 grams of sugar. That's a sugar savings of 68%!

Smoothie King
Worst: Orange Ka-BAM
BAM, indeed: Even in the smallest size (20 oz), this smoothie has 469 calories and 108 grams of sugar. That's as much sweetness as you'll get from almost three cans of Coca Cola. In fact, the chain actually adds pure sugar into this smoothie: "Turbinado," one of sugar's sneaky names, appears right on the ingredients list.
Best: Original High Protein Banana
A 20-oz cup of this smoothie has just 23 grams of sugar and 314 calories. We also like the simple ingredients list: banana, whey protein powder, and almonds.

Jamba Juice

Worst: Greens 'n Ginger Smoothie
Don't be fooled by word "greens:" The first ingredient in this smoothie is lemonade. That's probably why a 16-oz cup has a whopping 66 grams of sugar and 330 calories.
Best: Orange Carrot Karma Smoothie
This blend still has a high sugar count at 48 grams, but it's much lower in calories (just 180) and it's made without added sweeteners. The only ingredients: carrot juice, mangos, banana, and ice.

MORE:Top 10 Cholesterol-Fighting Foods

Starbucks
Worst: Evolution Fresh Mango Carrot Smoothie
Here's another example of the veggies-aren't-always-better principle: Each 16-oz cup of this smoothie has 42 grams of sugar and 230 calories.
Best: Chocolate Smoothie
This flavor is still high in sugar (34 grams per 16 oz), but it does have one advantage over the others: It's rich in protein and fiber, both of which slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, helping prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. The extra boost comes from a whey protein/fiber powder, but that's about as much information as we can get, since Starbucks doesn't share detailed ingredients lists on its website.

Planet Smoothie

Worst: Captain Kid
This "smoothie" is better classified as a dessert: The two ingredients are strawberries and orange sherbet. It's no surprise that a 22-oz cup packs 350 calories and 75 grams of sugar&mdashthat's more sugar than seven Krispy Kreme original donuts.
Best: PlanetPro Lite Banana & PB
With a total of 27 grams of sugar, this is one of the least sweet smoothies we've found. It does have a high calorie count of 540, but Planet Smoothie wisely markets this variety as a meal replacement. Order it for that purpose and you'll be in the clear.

Worst: McCafé Mango Pineapple Smoothie
McDonald's has yet to create a healthy smoothie. All three of the chain's smoothie flavors are basically identical in their nutrition stats, but Mango Pineapple edges out the rest with 56 grams of sugar and 260 calories in a 16-oz medium cup.
Best: McCafé iced coffee with light cream and French vanilla syrup
We can't in good conscience recommend a smoothie here. Your best liquid bet if you need a subtly sweet hit on the go is an iced coffee. It packs 19 grams of sugar and 120 calories for the same 16-oz portion, or you can forgo the liquid sweetener and stir in one sugar packet for just 4 grams of added sugar.


Reasons to Love these Smoothies

  • no added sugar
  • 5-ingredients or less
  • made in less than 5 minutes
  • great for 8 months and up
  • extras can be frozen
  • easy to make
  • allergy-friendly
  • great addition for breakfast, lunch or snack
  • made with easy-to-find ingredients
  • loaded with nutrients from the added fruits, vegetables or purees
  • a different smoothie for every day of the week
  • full of healthy fats, protein, iron and essential vitamins for growing baby and toddler

Saladworks

If you don't happen to be based in New York City, your salad chain options may be a little more limited. But Saladworks joins the ranks of the few chains growing to all corners of the country. In fact, the more than 30-year-old company more likely helps lead the trend The chain now operates 105 locations in more than 20 states, with plans in the works to open dozens more (via Forbes). While there is clearly some mass appeal for Saladworks, the chain's driving mission is to be original above all else. And that's where they kind of fall flat.

While Saladworks does offer a full menu of salad and grain bowl creations, plus wraps and paninis, you can't really call a Grilled Chicken Caesar or a Turkey Melt original. They've also got their own spins on a Cobb salad, a Mediterranean (read: Greek) salad, and a Mandarin Chicken salad with oranges and the mandatory Wonton strips, among others. Maybe the conventional choices are the secret behind their appeal, but really, if you're going to go out of your way to go to a salad joint, you're better off getting something more unique.


Ca-Cao Pow!

Rebecca Firkser/Eat This, Not That!

This drink packs a tremendous protein punch, not just from the vanilla powder but from the cacao (which delivers a gram per teaspoon) and the spirulina, a type of algae that's about 60 percent protein. Like quinoa, it's a complete protein, meaning it will deliver all the essential amino acids your body needs to convert fat directly into muscle.

  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon spirulina
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup vanilla plant-based protein powder
  • Water to blend (optional)

NUTRITION: 245 calories / 5 g fat / 27 g carb / 11 g fiber / 8 g sugar / 28 g protein


The 8 Worst Fast-Food Smoothies&mdashAnd What To Order Instead

Smoothies are now available at tons of nationwide coffee shops and fast-food joints. Good news for healthy eaters, right? Eh, maybe if you want an energy-sucking sugar crash to follow that 20 oz tropical fruit blend.

Truth is, most fast-food smoothies are seriously bad for you. Don't get us wrong, they taste delicious, but they're high in calories and often loaded with added sweeteners and super-sweet juice concentrates instead of actual fruit. Some even top 100 grams of sugar per serving&mdashthat's like an entire pint of ice cream! (Why not make your own healthy smoothie recipe with one of these options?)

But don't despair: For every sugar bomb, we found a healthier swap with no or minimal added sweeteners. (Get your sugar cravings under control and lose weight while still enjoying the sweets you love with Sugar Smart Express.)

Here, what to pick and what to pass on at eight popular chains:

Orange Julius

Panera Bread

Tropical Smoothie Café
Worst: Kiwi Quencher Smoothie
This chain only serves one size (24 oz), so forget about portion control. If you choose this seemingly healthy flavor, you'll ingest 254 calories and 100 grams of sugar&mdashroughly the sweetness equivalent of an entire pint of ice cream.
Best: Detox Island Green Smoothie
This smoothie (made with spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, banana, and fresh ginger) clocks in at a far more reasonable 182 calories and 32 grams of sugar. That's a sugar savings of 68%!

Smoothie King

Jamba Juice

MORE:Top 10 Cholesterol-Fighting Foods

Starbucks
Worst: Evolution Fresh Mango Carrot Smoothie
Here's another example of the veggies-aren't-always-better principle: Each 16-oz cup of this smoothie has 42 grams of sugar and 230 calories.
Best: Chocolate Smoothie
This flavor is still high in sugar (34 grams per 16 oz), but it does have one advantage over the others: It's rich in protein and fiber, both of which slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, helping prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. The extra boost comes from a whey protein/fiber powder, but that's about as much information as we can get, since Starbucks doesn't share detailed ingredients lists on its website.


The Most Deceivingly Unhealthy Smoothies At Your Favorite Chains

The cow noise in the title might say it all, unfortunately. Clocking in at almost 500 calories for the smallest size (16 oz.), the creamy treat is just that: a treat. Enjoy it, but remember it contains three times your daily recommended sugar allotment. Might as well have an ice cream sundae.

Purely Carrot Juice

The vivid orange color conveys the vitamin-packed goodness that lies within. This juice contains no dairy, no artificial sweeteners, and almost zero fat of any kind. Plus, one 12 oz. cup boasts 700% of your daily vitamin A, pretty much guaranteeing perfect eyesight with every sip.

Peanut Butter Split Smoothie

Noticing a theme? Peanut butter contains a lot of fat (even though it's the good, mono-saturated kind), and is often paired with dairy&mdashin this case, coconut and nut milks. A 20 oz. order of the split hits 555 calories.

Supa Dupa Greens Juice

All the green juices at this health-focused shop, whether fresh or cold pressed, are fantastically nutritious options. This particular option has a scant 60 calories, but packs in spinach, kale, celery, collard greens, cucumbers and more.

Chocolate McCafe Shake

Delicious though it may be, this shake has more fat and calories than a large order of fries from the same menu, with triple your daily sugar allotment, too. Steer clear!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

If you're craving a little ice-creamy goodness after your Mickey Ds salt fest, bypass the McFlurries and have one of their three fruit smoothies. They're extremely low in fat, contain some actual vitamins, and the strawberry-banana pick is only 210 calories.

Spoonable Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Peanut butter strikes again. That density "spoonability" comes from all-natural PB and granola, plus Red Mango's original nonfat yogurt. The strawberries and bananas throw some vitamin C into the mix, but the 16 oz. size is still a whopping 600 calories.

Mango Melody Smoothie

The lush tropical fruits&mdashpineapple, banana, and of course mango&mdashoffer up 80% of your daily vitamin C in addition to bright, natural flavors. Yes, the smoothie hits your daily limit of sugar, but most of the options at Red Mango more than double it.

The Hulk Strawberry Smoothie

The Hulk offerings also fall under the Fitness Blend category, but they're intended for those attempting to gain weight for their sport (or for an Oscar-grabbing movie role). The smallest size has an insane 964 calories, most of it coming from the thick butter pecan ice cream in each.

Gladiator Vanilla Smoothie

Falling under the brand's Fitness Blends line, this smoothie is intended as a protein-packed meal replacement. This pick is under 200 calories for its massive 20 oz. size, and delivers about an entire day's worth of protein.

Chocolate Smoothie

It might seem like a total indulgence, but surprise! This creamy option is still not all that terrible for you.

The chocolate smoothie is only a few more calories than the orange-mango pick, and manages to have just as much protein and fiber. So you can go ahead and indulge in the cocoa craving. Treat yo' self.


Tropical Smoothie Cafe has been sending kids to camp for over a decade

Too many companies out there making millions — or even billions — of dollars give too little back to their communities, even though those communities support them every day. Thankfully, Tropical Smoothie Cafe is sharing some of its success. The company has partnered with an organization called Camp Sunshine located in Casco, Maine that serves children with life-threatening illnesses. The non-profit operates a year-round campus for families as they navigate the difficulties of everyday life, while at the same time, providing a fun getaway for the kids where they can simply create some great memories.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe teamed up with the camp in 2008 and since then, has contributed some 6,00 volunteer hours and helped 2,500 family members by raising more than $7.5 million for the organization. The company also encourages its customers to get involved in the summer camp with links on its website for referring a family in need, as well as donation and volunteer opportunities.


McDonald's

McDonald's offers smoothies in three different flavors: blueberry pomegranate, mango pineapple and strawberry banana. Each small smoothie ranges from 210 to 220 calories. The smoothies use a combination of fruit juice, fruit puree, low-fat yogurt and ice. Each small smoothie has 3 grams of fiber and 2 to 3 grams of protein, is low-fat and is low-sodium. McDonald's smoothies contain 44 to 74 grams of sugar per smoothie, depending on the size, which amounts to 11 to 18 teaspoons of sugar each.


Watch the video: Mcdonalds Strawberry Banana Smoothie Fast Food Review (May 2022).