Danimals smoothies have become a popular drink option for kids in recent years. With fun animal characters like Danimal the lion cub adorning their packaging, these yogurt-based smoothies are marketed as a nutritious beverage for children. But are Danimals smoothies actually healthy? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and nutrition facts of these kid-targeted drinks.
Danimals Smoothie Nutrition Facts
The main ingredients in Danimals smoothies are yogurt, fruit juice from concentrate, and added sugars. Here is the nutrition information for one 8-ounce bottle of Danimals strawberry smoothie:
As you can see, a Danimals smoothie contains 150 calories per 8 oz serving. It also contains 29g of carbohydrates, with 23g coming from added sugars. The two main sources of protein and calcium are the yogurt and milk ingredients. Each smoothie has a blend of fruit juices from concentrate, providing vitamin C and some additional nutrients.
Benefits of Danimals Smoothies
Despite their high sugar content, Danimals smoothies do provide some nutritional benefits:
With 4g of protein per serving, Danimals smoothies contain more protein than most juice drinks. The protein comes from the yogurt, which makes the smoothies thicker and creamier than juice alone. Protein is important for kids’ growth and development.
The yogurt and milk ingredients provide a good amount of calcium – 20% of the daily value per serving. Calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth in children.
The fruit juices – usually strawberry, orange, peach, or berry – contain vitamin C. An 8oz serving provides 45% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for kids. Vitamin C boosts immunity and helps absorb iron.
Probiotics are the beneficial live bacteria found in yogurt. Danimals uses yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus casei. These probiotics may improve digestive health and support the immune system.
Drawbacks of Danimals Smoothies
While they do provide some nutrients, Danimals smoothies also have some significant drawbacks when it comes to health:
High in Sugar
The main concern with Danimals smoothies is their very high sugar content. A full 23g of sugar in one 8oz serving accounts for a quarter of the maximum daily added sugar intake recommended for kids ages 4-8. Too much added sugar can negatively impact blood sugar levels, tooth decay risk, and weight management.
Lack of Fiber
Unlike whole fruits and vegetables, Danimals smoothies contain no fiber. The soluble fiber found in whole produce helps slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Without this moderating influence, the sugars in Danimals smoothies are rapidly absorbed leading to quick spikes in blood sugar. Fiber is also key for digestive tract health.
Fruit Juice From Concentrate
Rather than fresh produce, Danimals smoothies use juice concentrates reconstituted from fruit extracts. This processing method strips away many of the original vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in fresh fruit. The fruit juice concentrates are also very high in natural sugars without the balancing fiber of whole fruits.
Some Danimals smoothies contain artificial colors, natural flavors, cellulose gel, and other additives. While not highly unhealthy, these extra ingredients are signs of a highly processed food product rather than a simple, whole food smoothie.
Are Danimals Smoothies Healthy as Part of a Balanced Diet?
When consumed in moderation alongside a diet rich in whole foods, Danimals smoothies can provide protein, calcium, vitamins, and probiotics to help supplement a child’s nutrition. However, given their lack of fiber and whole fruits along with added sugar content, Danimals smoothies should not be considered a health food. They are a sweet, fortified snack that can fit into a healthy diet occasionally, but parents should limit portion sizes and combine with whole fruits, veggies, proteins etc. for balanced nutrition. Danimals smoothies should not replace whole milk/yogurt, fresh fruit, or other more nutrient-dense beverage options.
Here are some tips for parents when considering Danimals smoothies:
Read Labels for Sugar Content
Compare nutrition labels and choose lower sugar varieties when possible. For example, the Danimals Wildly Nutritious smoothies contain about half as much sugar as the regular Danimals smoothies.
Limit Portion Sizes
One 8oz bottle or juice box of Danimals smoothie contains the maximum recommended added sugar for a child’s day. Consider splitting one smoothie into two 4oz servings to cut the amount of sugar.
Combine with Whole Foods
Pair smoothies with fruits, vegetables, proteins etc. to help balance out the nutritional value. For example, enjoying half a smoothie with apple slices, carrot sticks, and string cheese makes for a more wholesome snack.
Treat as Occasional Snack
While tasty and fun for kids, Danimals smoothies should be enjoyed in moderation a couple times a week rather than daily. Rotate with other healthier beverage options like milk, water, seltzer, and fresh fruit smoothies.
Healthier Kid-Friendly Smoothie Alternatives
For parents looking to limit sugary drinks but still provide tasty smoothies, here are some healthier recipe ideas:
Greek Yogurt Berry Smoothie
Blend together plain Greek yogurt, frozen mixed berries, banana, peanut butter, and milk for a nutrient-rich smoothie. Can use honey to sweeten if needed.
Green Fruit Smoothie
Combine spinach or kale with pineapple juice, mango chunks, banana, and avocado for a colorful smoothie packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Tropical Fruit Smoothie
Mix diced mangos, pineapple, banana with coconut water and lime juice for a refreshing, fruity drink without added sugars.
Berry Yogurt Smoothie
Stir together fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, vanilla yogurt, and ice for a simple but satisfying sugar-free smoothie.
Peach Almond Smoothie
Blend peach slices with almond milk, vanilla almond butter, and ice into a nutritious peach smoothie.
The Bottom Line
Danimals smoothies can provide protein, calcium, vitamins, and probiotics from their yogurt and fruit juice ingredients. However, their lack of fiber and whole fruits along with high amount of added sugars mean they should be enjoyed occasionally as part of an overall healthy diet. Parents can mix Danimals smoothies with other whole foods, limit portion sizes, and rotate with healthier homemade smoothies for a better nutritional profile. While tasty and convenient, Danimals smoothies are best treated as an occasional fortified snack rather than health food.