Is Jamba Juice Healthy? Smoothie Fans Might Not Like the Answer
A new class action lawsuit filed against Jamba Juice alleges that the popular smoothie chain that touts ingredients like “real fruit” isn’t as good for you as it claims.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit known for calling B.S. on food companies, brought the case, saying the so-called “whole” ingredients disguise what the products actually are: desserts, not snacks.
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So is Jamba Juice actually healthy for you, or is it all just marketing fluff? Sorry smoothie fans, but it’s true that these drinks get an undeserving health halo. You’re better off eating actual produce and considering Jamba Juice a treat instead of a regular meal. Let’s break down the reasons why, shall we?
Those smoothies are sweeter than you think.
Blended fruit beverages are basically sugar delivery systems that go directly from your mouth into your bloodstream. Smoothies may contain more fiber than juices, but not 100% of the time — and certainly not by all that much.
For example, Jamba Juice’slist “watermelon juice blend” as the predominant ingredient, meaning that you’re getting less fiber and more sugar than you would if you were to simply sit down and eat some watermelon slices.
A small Jamba Juice Watermelon Breeze sets you back 58 grams of sugar, but two cups of actual watermelon only has 18 grams. That’s no brainer, IMO! The fruit is lower in calories and sugar, and packed with more fiber compared than the concentrated version.
Something made from fruit can still, ultimately, become sugar.
If it’s got fruit juice, fruit puree, or fruit juice puree, it’s got sugar. Because fruit juices and fruit purees are concentrated forms of naturally occurring sugar, they’re often added to products to sweeten the taste. Case in point: Jamba Juice smoothies and their supermarket cousins, bottled smoothies like Naked Juice.
Think of it this way: One whole orange is about 60 calories and 15 grams sugar; one serving of orange juice (a measly half cup, or 4 ounces) is about the same. The choice is 100% yours to make, but since most of us aren’t drinking a shot glass-sized serving of juice, you’re better off eating the real deal. Then you can choose to eat sugar in ways you really enjoy it (my personal choice = chocolate).
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Fruit-based ingredients may ditch the good stuff.
True, fruit-based juices and fruit smoothies made with juice aren’t necessarily terrible for you. Nor does it mean they’re made with “fake” ingredients or lots of added sugar — but that does not mean that they’re good for you, either.
Juices and purees just concentrate the sugar that’s naturally found in fruit and remove the other components (fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals) to work as a sweetening agent that creates the flavor you love while leaving out what made the food nutritionally valuable in the first place.
Take the Apple N Greens smoothie at Jamba Juice. It may look green, but that doesn’t mean it’s made from just kale. In fact, the predominant ingredients are apple and strawberry “juices,” which means that you’re still drinking a mostly fruit juice-based product before your straw even hits a chard leaf.
To that end: Drinking beverages doesn’t fill you up the same way that eating water, fiber, and phytonutrient-filled fruit and veggies do. Not to mention that research links eating whole produce with a slew of health benefits, while drinking calorie-containing beverages is connected to an increased risk of chronic diseases.
Drinking a smoothie is not all that filling or cost-effective.
Even if you’re getting a Jamba Juice with added protein powder, you’re still not CHEWING any food, right? Plus most protein powders contain only the isolated amino acids themselves — not a more satisfying source of protein that would also have fiber or fat to fill you up. And an added flavor, like vanilla whey, is just another way of saying protein powder with extra sugar!
Let’s also not forget an apple, for example, costs small change, while a small green smoothie at Jamba is upwards of $5. These fancier forms of nature’s best food (produce) are not only worse for you, but they’re significantly more expensive — up to triple the price — thanks to fancy marketing claims and upgraded packaging.
The bottom line: Jamba Juice is a sweet treat — not a satisfying snack.
You’re better off eating the whole fruit, not just the juice that fruit contains. And if you are a smoothie aficionado, chew on this: You can easily make more nutritious versions at home using plain Greek yogurt, berries, banana, and peanut butter (or any nut butters/fruit you love). You’ll automatically create a healthier, longer-lasting energy boost that’s delicious and filling.