Looking for a delicious way to beat the summer heat? Fast food restaurants are stocking their menus with all sorts of cold, fruity drinks to help you keep your cool, like McDonald's new Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie. It's cold, it's tasty and it's made of fruit, so it's got to be healthy... right?
Not so fast. If anyone knows how to take something that should be healthy (like fruit) and make it terrible for you, it's the fast food industry. Let's take a look at the nutrition facts and see whether these smoothies pass the bikini test.
Whenever I see fast food or processed foods that contain fruit, I'm immediately suspicious. These companies are notorious for using artificial flavors instead of real fruit, and sometimes go as far as to use berry-shaped pieces of cellulose (woody plant matter... so pretty much cardboard) with artificial color instead of using real berries. So does the McDonald's Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie actually contain blueberry and pomegranate? A quick check of the ingredients reveals the use of both blueberry and pomegranate purees with no artificial flavor or color. Well done, McDonald's.
Another thing to watch with smoothies is the sugar content. Fruit has a lot of sugar in it and just about all smoothies have even more sugar added. McDonald's smoothies have sugar and fructose in addition to the sugar naturally contained in the fruit. All of that adds up to a drink that has more than 10 teaspoons worth of sugar. That's more than a can of Coke!
And of course, if it has lots of sugar, it also has lots of calories. In fact, a small (12 oz) Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie at McDonald's has 57% more calories than a can of Coke.
At this point you might be thinking “Ok, McDonald's smoothies are not healthy, but other restaurants have to have healthier smoothies!” I'll give you some points for optimism, but sadly, you would be incorrect. Burger King's smoothies, like the Tropical Mango Smoothie, are even more caloric than McDonald's.
While a can of Coke does have fewer calories and less sugar than a smoothie, Coke lacks certain nutrients provided by the fruit in smoothies. That makes it hard to say that Coke is actually healthier. But you know what is healthier than both? An ice cold water and a piece of fruit, which is what this blogger will be choosing this summer.
Check out the full nutrition facts for these smoothies:
Burger King Tropical Mango Smoothie
Burger King Pina Colada Smoothie
Burger King Strawberry Banana Smoothie
McDonald's Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie
McDonald's Pineapple Mango Smoothie
McDonald's Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Baskin Robbins Mango Smoothie
Baskin Robbins Peach Passion Banana Smoothie
Panera Low Fat Black Cherry Smoothie