Healthy Green Juice? Not So Fast!

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Carrying around a green drink can make us (ok, me) feel virtuous and healthy:)  But bottles of green juice and smoothies instead of diet soda isn’t all good news. Most of them contains lots of added sugars and not as much of those healthy ingredients as you would think.

A new smoothie at Robeks called, “Tropi-Kale” sounds very healthy but the ingredients listed in order of quantity are: Papaya Juice, Pineapples, Fresh Kale, Pineapple Sherbet, and Non-fat Yogurt.  It’s pretty tricky because sherbert is a codename for added sugar. Papaya juice and pineapples are already provide plenty of natural sugars.  A medium smoothie (the smallest size available) has 77 grams of sugar.  With more sugar than 2 cans of regular coke (33 grams of sugar/can), I wouldn’t call that healthy. A homemade version of that smoothie with frozen pineapples, fresh kale and full-fat pastured yogurt would be more filling without the added sugar.

What about those bottled juices everyone is buying? Many experts say the process of getting the vegetables and fruits into the bottle destroys the essential nutrients.  But we don’t always have time to make our own juice so they can be an acceptable alternative.  The key again is that you must read the ingredients.  The Naked Green Machine Juice Smoothie lists the following ingredients in order of quantity: apple juice, mango puree, pineapple juice, banana puree kiwi puree, spirulina, natural flavors, alfalfa, broccoli, spinach, barley grass, wheat grass, ginger root, kale and odorless garlic.  While this green drink looks like it is full of veggies, the first five items listed are fruit juice, making this mostly a fruit drink.  Kale is listed 2nd to last and therefore not a significant ingredient in this supposed healthy elixir.  There are 28 grams of sugar per serving and 2 serving per bottle for a total of 56 grams of sugar!

That doesn’t mean that healthy green drinks aren’t out there.  Evolution makes a line of green drinks including like Green Devotion that only has vegetables and Suja Twelve Essentials is made with organic vegetables and tea, both drinks have 8 grams of sugar per bottle.

Don’t be fooled into buying a sugary juice.  Use these tips to find the best smoothie or juice:

  • Read the ingredients and look at the order.  You can bet that there isn’t a lot of kale when it is last on a long list of ingredients.
  • Look at the amount of sugar.  If it is more than 10 grams, that’s a sign of too much fruit or added sugars like sherbert.
  • Know your buzz words.  “All Natural” doesn’t have a specific meaning according to the USDA and “natural flavors” can actually be unnatural.  “Gluten-free” is just silly because juice doesn’t normally have gluten anyway.

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