For those who spend any amount of time scrolling through #healthybreakfast on Instagram looking for diet inspiration, the pictures of colorful smoothies and smoothie bowls topped with fruit, seeds, granola, and coconut flakes might seem like the pinnacle of health. Unfortunately, not all smoothies are created equal, and some are downright unhealthy. In fact, drinking a smoothie every day could be sabotaging your efforts to get healthier.
Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between blending up a smoothie from scratch in your kitchen and picking one up from a coffee shop or supermarket on the way to work. While a homemade smoothie full of fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase your intake of fiber and other essential nutrients, the kind you buy premade can have a lot of added sugar (via Healthline). For example, Smoothie King’s 20-ounce The Hulk Vanilla smoothie contains 47 grams of sugar, which is almost twice the American Heart Association’s daily recommended guideline for women. Over time, too much sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only smoothie pitfall you’ll want to avoid.
Why you should always avoid restaurant and supermarket smoothies
If you remember Jamba Juice, you might already know just how sweet and potentially unhealthy a restaurant smoothie can be. They often contain sweeteners, fruit juice, sweetened dairy products, and can be topped with even more sugar in the form of granola or even sweetened coconut flakes (via Time). Sipping one of these smoothies can cause your blood sugar to rise quickly and then crash, leaving you feeling hungry again in just a few hours. The best way to avoid this is to make your smoothies at home, use unsweetened milk, nut milk, or water as the liquid, and add plenty of dark, leafy greens to the mix. These changes will provide your smoothie with fiber and protein (plus vitamins A, C, and K) to help control your blood sugar and stave off those hunger pangs.
But, according to scientists Barry Popkin and George Bray, you’ll want to avoid the pre-bottled smoothies as well, since they usually pack in even more sugar without having any real impact on how much we eat during the day (via The Guardian). This is, at least in part, because of the loss of fiber (via Insider). Popkin’s advice is to eat your fruit rather than drinking it if you’re trying to be healthier, especially since even “pulped-up smoothies do nothing good for us but do give us the same amount of sugar as four to six oranges or a large Coke.”