Consumer Reports rates the best smoothies

April 26, 2010 3:06:12 AM PDT
The number of smoothies being sold in supermarkets keeps growing, racking up more than $150 million in sales every year. But are they nutritious? And which ones taste best? Consumer Reports checks out the top-selling brands. Tommy and James O'Brien had a fun job. They're among the 34 kids who helped Consumer Reports test smoothies, the kind you can have with lunch or for a snack.

"I like the taste," declared Tommy O'Brien.

Consumer Reports also had taste testers sample the smoothies and its food experts evaluate nutrition. Some are fruit-based. Others are dairy-based.

"Ounce per ounce, the fruit-based smoothies had slightly fewer calories than the dairy-based," Consumer Reports' Amy Keating said.

But not all were nutritional winners.

"One of the benefits of eating whole fruit is dietary fiber," Keating said. "But Naked Berry Blast says it has zero grams of fiber. You want to choose a smoothie with at least three grams of fiber per serving."

And SunnyD Smoothie Strawberry Swirl says that it has "as much calcium and vitamin D as milk."

"But it has 30 grams of sugar in an eight-ounce glass," Keating said. "So it's not a good substitute for milk."

When it comes to taste, Consumer Reports recommends the dairy-based Lifeway Lowfat Kefir Strawberry. It's also a good source of calcium and protein.

Among fruit-based smoothies, top scores went to Bolthouse Farms Berry Boost Blend, which is 100 percent juice. It has four grams of fiber and lots of vitamin C.

With any of these smoothies, Consumer Reports says it's important to check the serving size.

Often they contain more than one serving, so if you drink the whole bottle, you're getting a lot more calories than you think.