Smoothie Sugar Extravaganza

I just got off the phone with a customer service rep at McDonald’s and I’m in shock. I’ve worked with the food industry for 10 years and I truly believe that many companies are trying to provide healthy alternatives for Canadians. When it comes to smoothie offerings, many restaurants have abandoned health for a product that should be healthy. I just confirmed that a medium strawberry banana smoothie at McD’s contains 280g of sugar and a large contains 310g. That’s equivalent to 70 tsp and 77.5 tsp of sugar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I was kidding. The rep told me that this specific smoothie has added sugar, DUH really?! I’m pretty sure that’s not natural sugar from the fruit. I checked the ingredient list and it’s not any different from the ingredient lists of the other smoothies. The smoothie ingredient list is “fruit base, ice, low fat yogurt (for the yogurt varieties)”. In case you aren’t aware, that “fruit base” will have it’s own set of ingredients (not listed) and I would bet that the 1st ingredient or at least 2nd ingredient is sugar. The other varieties are lower but still way too high for my liking. For example the blueberry pomegranate has 73g or 18.5tsp of sugar. This is pretty close to a large Coke that contains 20.5g of sugar. Clearly McD’s smoothies are not a healthy choice.
Other restaurants are a little better HOWEVER their serving sizes aren’t as big as McD’s. At Starbucks the smoothies range from 31-40g sugar or 7-10tsp of sugar for an average size of 280mL. If you triple the size to approach that of McD’s then the sugar content is close to 100g. At least some of this sugar is natural because because Starbucks makes their smoothies with milk or soy. Milk naturally contains a sugar called lactose. At Tim Horton’s a 10oz serving contains about 30g sugar or 7.5tsp of sugar. FYI I’m not sure how many oz are in the McD’s smoothies as they are listed in grams instead of mLs (i.e. a large = 1228g).
Your best bed is to pass on these options and make your own at home. Yesterday I made a yummy smoothie with frozen mango, 0% vanilla Greek yogurt and skim milk. Check out a past post I did about making your own smoothies here.

By the way if you want to calculate how many tsp of sugar is in your food or beverage divide the sugar in grams by 4. 1 tsp of sugar = 4g. Therefore, 280g of sugar/4g per tsp = 70 tsp.

2 Responses to “Smoothie Sugar Extravaganza”

  1. Marg Coulter says:

    Just had this discussion with Mark tonight! He had a salad and smoothie at McD’s for lunch today. No protein! Too much sugar! Your timing was perfect!
    He listen’s to you better.
    I made my own smoothie at home wih skim milk and Greek yogurt. I added whey powder for protein. Not too good for those with high cholesterol. So good!

  2. madeleine says:

    That is good timing! I still can’t believe the sugar content. Your smoothie sounds yummy. Greek yogurt are normally higher in protein than regular yogurts so you are definitely getting lots of protein.

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