In this report
May 2010 Ratings
Chain-store smoothies

Smoothies to savor

Last reviewed: May 2010

Smoothies can serve as a main course, snack, or dessert, and can be healthful to boot. To see which are worth sipping, our trained tasters tried 12 packaged, refrigerated smoothies that are either juice- or dairy-based. We also had 34 boys and girls ages 6 to 17 tell us which of four smoothies they preferred; and we had tasters sample offerings from two smoothie chains.

What we found

The best smoothies could have come right from a blender. The two from Bolthouse Farms, both juice-based, were best of all, with blends of fresh-tasting fruit flavors. Another excellent juice-based smoothie was Sunkist Naturals. The best dairy-based smoothie was Lifeway Kefir, thick and yogurtlike, with a mild, fresh-tasting strawberry flavor. Other findings:

Pricier isn’t better

The excellent Lifeway costs 89 cents per serving; the good Sambazon, $2.38.

Dairy varies

Three of the four dairy-based smoothies contain yogurt; Lifeway has kefir, a cultured beverage similar to yogurt that is claimed to have twice the amount of live and active cultures in regular yogurt. Lifeway also has the most protein of all, at 11 grams per serving. All of the dairy-based smoothies provide 15 to 30 percent of the daily value of calcium.

Kids preferred dairy-based drinks

We had them try two fruit- and two dairy-based smoothies. Their favorites were Stonyfield Organic Wild Berry and Frusion Strawberry Blend.

Nutrition differs slightly

Per ounce, most of the juice-based smoothies have fewer calories than the dairy-based, most with no fat per serving (most of the dairy smoothies have 2 to 3 grams). Most of the smoothies have less than 100 milligrams of sodium per serving, and all have 20 to 33 grams of sugars except for Dannon’s artificially sweetened strawberry banana, with just 12 grams. Lifeway, Sunkist, and Bolthouse Farms Berry Boost have the most fiber, at least 3 grams per serving. The Bolthouse and Sunkist smoothies are very high in vitamin C.

Bottom line

Consider one of the excellent choices in our chart (available to subscribers). Check ingredients; look for a juice-based smoothie that is all fruit with no added sugar or a dairy one that has calcium and is low in fat.