Smoothies are a sneaky food. Once upon a time, they were made from only fruits or veggies along with a bit of ice or low fat dairy. Today, they're packed with hundreds of calories and a ton of added sugar. Smoothies have the ultimate health halo and can be especially tempting in the summer. So how can you make healthy choices at places like Jamba Juice or Robeks?

ย Image: Screenshot of Washingtonian Well+Being interview 7/25/12

ย I recently did an interview with Washingtonian's Well + Being blog where I gave my best and worst picks for three of the biggest smoothie shops. The answers were surprising! Here are my favorite bites from the interview and tips for healthy smoothie picks:

  • Don't let the names on the menu fool you. A smoothie in a category called 'snack right' had 550 calories and 125 grams of sugar. In another shop, my best and worst pick had names that were nearly identical.
  • Bigger isn't better. Always order the smallest smoothie size, or heck, split it with a friend! The smallest size I saw on the menu for adults was 12 oz in one store while the smallest size in other chains was 16 or 20 oz. Way too big.
  • Read the ingredients for added sugar.ย It's hard to judge smoothies by grams of sugar alone since fruit has naturally occurring sugars. But check out the ingredients list for 'sherbet', 'juice', or 'honey'. All of these are added sugars that you should aim to minimize.

How do you make smart choices with smoothies?

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.