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Smooth Operator

July 19, 2012 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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Nothing says summer more than a long line up of twenty and thirty-somethings sporting short shorts and flip flops, trying to balance their frisbees™, picnic baskets and toddlers at the local coffee shop. Somehow they always find a free hand for their coveted $5 frothy beverage.

It seems like this year the blenders at restaurants and coffee shops are working overtime mixing up fruit smoothies as the drinks of choice. Unfortunately, they’re not all created equal. The smoothies I have seen range from about 130 to over 500 calories (I saw one with more than 700) depending on the ingredients and the serving size.Commercial smoothies may contain sugar, fruit, powdered bases, juice, syrups, milk, whey powder, fibre powder, yogurt, ice cream, sorbet and other ingredients like wheatgrass and matcha (nope, these add-ins will not give you superpowers).

A smoothie can be a healthy option if it’s mainly fruit and doesn’t have any added sugar or fruit flavoured syrups. Smoothies made with yogurt or milk have some calcium which is a bonus, but it’s generally far less than you would find in a full serving from the Milk and Alternatives food group.

To see how your smoothie of choice stacks up, ask your provider about the ingredients. You can also check the nutritional information if it’s available in store or on their website to know how much of each nutrient the smoothie in question contains.

When I decide to buy a smoothie, I know that it does contribute to my daily intake so I want to make sure it’s replacing a snack, not just adding on to my other meals and snacks. I ask myself: am I going to savour a little mango madness instead of a snack, or am I going to slurp back a half litre of frozen drink on the way home from the beach right before supper?

Since the smell of barbecue wafting from the neighbour’s backyard has me already planning my next meal, I think I’ll go for the smallest size they have.

How do you size up a smoothie?


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