In a world where fast food is synonymous with unhealthy, McDonald's is trying to separate itself from the stereotypical fast food drive-through that fattens up its customers by serving them mega-burgers and greasy fries. A new move that separates McDonald's from its competitors is the recent launch of McDonald's smoothies made with real fruit. The timing couldn't be better as consumers look for something cool and refreshing to wet their parched throats, as they contend with record high temperatures. Sure, a McDonald's fruit smoothie sounds virtuous. After all, it's made with fruit – but is it really healthy?
McDonald's Fruit Smoothies: What's in Them?
McDonald's smoothies come in two flavors – strawberry banana and wild berry. To McDonald's credit, these smoothie drinks are made with real fruit puree and concentrated fruit juices. For example, the strawberry banana smoothie is crafted from a fruit blend of strawberry puree, banana puree, and concentrated apple juice. Additional ingredients that make up less than one percent of the total include xantham gum, citric acid, cellulose, pectin, ascorbic acid, and artificial and natural flavors.
To create a sippable smoothie, the fruit blend is added to low fat yogurt and processed in a smoothie maker machine. Keep in mind that the blend is pre-made, so you won't see the fruit being chopped up and added to the blender, as you would at some smoothie shops. If you want this experience, head to a Smoothie King or Jamba Juice instead.
McDonald's Smoothies: The Nutritional Low-Down
If you order the smallest McDonald's smoothie (12 ounces) in the strawberry banana flavor, the calorie content is pretty reasonable at 210 calories. The 16 ounce size has 260 calories. But before you bolt over to McDonald's to pick up one of these fruity creations, bear in mind that a sixteen ounce smoothie has a whopping 54 grams of sugars – twice the amount in two Snicker's bars.
On the plus side, you'll get more vitamin C, fiber, and calcium from a McDonald's smoothie than you would from a Snicker's bar. In addition, the pureed fruit supplies some antioxidants. Still, if you're watching your sugar intake, a McDonald's smoothie is more of a splurge than a dietary staple.
Are McDonald's Smoothies Healthy: The Bottom Line
It's a positive that McDonald's is taking steps to promote healthier eating and drinking – and a McDonald's fruit smoothie has more overall nutrition than a soft drink. Still, their fruit smoothies are best used as a dessert alternative – not a drink to sip with a meal. With so many sugar grams, don't make these drinks a habit.