Is that right? McDonald's real fruit smoothies
As this blog has noted time and again, the world is chock full of beverages whose manufacturers claim they provide several servings of fruit or are packed with powerful antioxidants, both offered as signs that the drink at hand is really good for you. Usually we end up poking holes in those claims.
But this week we're taking a slightly different tack, looking at a product for which no outlandish claims are being made -- even though they plausibly could be. This is a surprising happenstance, as the beverage is the Real Fruit Smoothie, and the maker is McDonald's.
You'd think that given the pounding McDonald's regularly (and often deservedly) receives for its fat- and sodium-heavy menu, it would take any opportunity to tout as healthful a new item that can actually claim to be made from good-for-you ingredients. It may not be perfect -- more on that in a moment -- but I think these smoothies are a decent addition to the McDonald's menu.
McCafe Smoothies come in two varieties -- strawberry banana and wild berry -- and three sizes, small (12 fluid ounces), medium (16 ounces) and large (22 ounces). Small smoothies have 210 calories, half a gram of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 44 grams of sugar. A large strawberry banana smoothie has 330 calories (the wild berry version has 320), 1 gram of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 70 grams of sugar. (To see for yourself, click here and then go to the McCafe section to find a PDF file of nutrition data.)
The smoothies provide a nice dose of the antioxidant Vitamin C -- ranging from 70 percent of the Daily Value for that nutrient to 120 percent, plus a little bit of calcium and iron.
Yes, there's more sugar in these smoothies than I would choose (I don't add any sweetener to the fruit smoothies I make at home), and I wish sugar weren't the second ingredient in the yogurt they use in these drinks. But it's only the third or fourth (depending on the variety) ingredient in the fruit blend -- and in both varieties, real fruit puree is the first ingredient. Bear in mind that fruit, including the strawberries and bananas in these drinks, has calories and sugar and contributes to the tallies for both in these beverages.
(To see what the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 say about sugar-sweetened beverages, click here, then scroll down to Section 5: Carbohydrates and to page D5-29. The bottom line: Science hasn't shown that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages necessarily leads to weight gain.)
It's easy to take potshots at the world's most iconic fast-food chain. But in this instance, I'm inclined to give McDonald's credit for offering a not-bad product without making a big deal about all the antioxidants and other nutritional benefits it confers. It's just a nice cold smoothie -- to be enjoyed, if you're so inclined, in moderation.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
July 30, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness
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