Okay, the first thing you learn when you spend a lot of time looking at smoothie chain ingredient lists and nutrition facts is…you should really make your smoothies at home.
Smoothies can be a great way to consume lots of nutrients quickly, but at most national smoothie bars, they’re mostly a way of getting lots of sugar into your bloodstream quickly. (Yuck!) Exhibit A: The very popular Angel Food smoothie at Smoothie King contains 70g of total sugar, 50g of which is added sugar (and that’s for the small).
Yes, most of them are going to contain some natural sugar from fruit, but when you’re liquifying things, you still want to keep that to a minimum.
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All that being said, if you are going to hit up a smoothie joint, whether it’s a smaller group that’s doing things right like Juice Press or the infamous Jamba Juice, we want you to have some guidance. So, opt for these healthier picks, below.
The Healthiest Smoothies at Popular Smoothie Chains
Juice Generation makes lots of nutritious blends. The Power Plant contains plenty of kale and almond butter, plus health boosters like moringa and spirulina. It balances out 21g of sugar with 17g of protein and 11g of fiber, and vegans and vegetarians can happily sip it.
We love that Juice Press is notoriously obsessive about high-quality, organic ingredients. Grab the Green Light if you need a light snack—it’s got lots of greens and little else. For a smoothie that really fuels you (or, say, post-workout), opt for the Clean Green Protein. It’s got more sugar than the former but spinach and kale are the first two ingredients, followed by hemp protein, and you get 16g of protein and 20g of fiber.
Clean Juice is spreading out all over the country, and it touts its all certified-organic ingredients. On the smoothie front, go for The Intense One for its healthy ingredients like avocado, ginger, and kale. The sugar to protein ratio is a little off, so try adding hemp protein to change that.
Smoothie King’s smoothies are mostly closer to junk food than health food. Take the Green Tea Tango, which you might be inspired to order since the first ingredient is matcha. Yeah, it contains 35g of added sugar on top of natural sugar from milk. It’s hard to find a great choice here, but Slim-N-Trim Veggie is probably the safest bet, since it contains vegetables and has less sugar (29g) than others (and at least none that’s added). What’s in the “protein blend” is unknown, however. Skip it if you can.
Instead of blending fruit, Jamba Juice generally adds already processed fruit juice to its smoothies, so things are already off to a rough start. Almost all of its blends are shockingly sugary. The best we could even point to is the Kale-ribbean Breeze, which packs a whopping 48g of sugar but at least contains leafy greens and whole food protein sources like Greek yogurt and chia seeds. This is what we call seriously slim pickings.
It’s hard to find something that isn’t all sugar at Planet Smoothie, and some of their ingredients are way too mysterious (frozen yogurt, for example…which doesn’t tell us what’s in the frozen yogurt). In this case, it’s actually better to steer away from options that contain greens, since they generally add minimal greens to otherwise sugary fruit blends for show. The Peanut Butter Power Up is your best bet here—it’s made with peanut butter, oats, bananas, chia seeds, and frozen yogurt (again, don’t love this!) and at least delivers a good amount of protein and fiber.