Smoothies – more kilojoules than a meal

Some contain the equivalent of 31 teaspoons of sugar

CHOICE says smoothies and frappes sold at well-known food and drink outlets can contain more kilojoules than a meal, with some regular sized drinks having the equivalent of up to 31 teaspoons of sugar.¹

CHOICE analysed 95 drinks from popular outlets including Boost Juice, Donut King, Wendys, Gloria Jean’s and New Zealand Natural and found 81 are high in sugar, 13 have more than 1900 kilojoules (kJ) and five have high levels of saturated fat.²

“Smoothies might have a healthy image but some are packed with hidden sugars like high-fructose syrup and fruit juice concentrates which pack a dense sugary punch when compared with a couple of pieces of fresh fruit. This makes smoothies more like a sugary meal than a snack,” says CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just.

The CHOICE review found that Baskin and Robbins Yoghurt Smoothies have between 29 and 31 teaspoons of sugars, including concentrated fruit puree, high-fructose syrup and added sugar, as well as artificial flavours and colours.

Five of the Muffin Break Smoothies reviewed are high in saturated fat with each drink having more than 11g of saturated fat per serving.

Boost Juice’s Super Smoothies are made with real juice but are energy dense at close to 2000 kJ per regular serve, roughly the same number of kilojoules as a meal.

“Dietitians recommend a snack to be about 600 kilojoules – yet a quarter of the smoothies we looked at had almost three times that amount,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE also found significant differences in the serving sizes of ‘regular’ or ‘medium’ drinks at different outlets. At Donut King a regular is 280mL while at New Zealand Natural a ‘regular’ drink is 650mL.

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating suggests a single serving of fruit juice shouldn’t be bigger than 125mL and a serving of yoghurt, commonly used in smoothies, should be no more than 200g.

“If you are an active person and you want a quick pick me up some outlets have better options with smaller sizes, fewer kilojoules or less added sugar.” says Ms Just.

Donut King’s Fruit Freezes have less than 150kJ and the lowest amount of sugars of the drinks analysed. However the ingredients include ‘nature identical mango flavour’ rather than fresh mango.

Michel’s Patisserie Dairy Free Fruit Smoothies come in more reasonable sizes at 305mL for a ‘regular’ serve.  But instead of using fresh fruit the drinks are made with a ‘smoothie base’ consisting of 50-60% fruit and the remainder being sugar, thickener preservative and flavours.

Boost Juice’s Skinny Minnie Smoothies are the best Boost Juice option as they are made with fresh fruit and have fewer kilojoules.

CHOICE tips for choosing healthier smoothies:

  • Watch your serving sizes – go for smaller options
  • Look for smoothies made from real fruit rather than juice concentrate
  • Avoid smoothies with added sugars
  • Ask for yoghurt instead of ice-cream
  • Consider swapping a smoothie for a piece of fruit and a tub of yoghurt