Jamba Juice’s Amazing Greens smoothie promises a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients from a blend of fruits and vegetables. But is drinking this green concoction as wholesome as the company claims?
Nutritional Breakdown of Amazing Greens
Let’s start by looking at the ingredients and nutrition facts for a 16 ounce Amazing Greens smoothie from Jamba Juice:
- Apple juice
- Orange sherbet
For the 16 ounce size, Amazing Greens provides:
DV = Daily Value
At first glance, Amazing Greens appears to contain a solid dose of vitamins, while being low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. The 4g of fiber per serving is also decent. However, digging deeper reveals some limitations:
- Very high in sugar at 44g per serving, which accounts for over half of the carbohydrates.
- Most of the sugar comes from apple juice concentrate rather than whole fruits and vegetables.
- Relatively low in protein at only 3g.
- Many key micronutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins are not listed, suggesting the amounts are negligible.
Benefits of Amazing Greens Ingredients
Despite its high sugar content, Amazing Greens delivers a hefty serving of fruits, vegetables, and greens in each 16oz cup. It contains nutritional powerhouses like spinach, kale, broccoli, wheatgrass, and parsley. Let’s analyze some of the key benefits of these ingredients:
Spinach is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. It may improve eye health, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, support bone health, and reduce risk of certain cancers.
Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. It also provides antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol which help fight inflammation and protect cells from damage. Kale has been shown to support heart health, lower cholesterol levels, and may have anti-cancer effects.
Broccoli is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber. It contains sulfur compounds like sulforaphane which are linked to reduced risk of cancer. Broccoli may also improve digestion and gut health thanks to its fiber content.
Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll, flavonoids, and vitamins C and E. Some research indicates it may help stimulate immunity, purify the liver, improve digestion, and neutralize oxidative stress. However, more studies are needed on its specific effects.
Chlorella is a type of nutrient-dense algae. It provides protein, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Chlorella may help remove toxins, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and stimulate the immune system. But overall research is still limited.
Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and flavonoids. It acts as a diuretic to flush out excess water and salt from the body. Parsley also helps fight inflammation, protects liver health, and works as a mild laxative for improved digestion.
Watercress provides significant amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, manganese, and antioxidants. It has been used traditionally to treat respiratory conditions. Watercress may also help regulate thyroid function, improve bone health, and reduce inflammation.
Concerns About Sugar Content
While the ingredients in Amazing Greens provide valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, the high sugar content is concerning. A 16 ounce serving contains 44 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to over 11 teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men.
Almost all the sugar in Amazing Greens comes from apple juice concentrate rather than whole fruits and veggies. Juice concentrates are processed to remove the fiber and isolate the sweet flavor. This spikes the sugar content dramatically. For comparison, a whole apple contains around 19 grams of sugar compared to a 1/4 cup (60 ml) serving of apple juice concentrate which provides 16 grams of sugar.
Consuming excess added sugars has been linked to increased risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Fatty liver disease
- Tooth decay
The fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from whole fruits and vegetables help reduce these risks. But juicing removes the beneficial fiber, leaving only the easily absorbed sugars.
Additionally, excess sugar promotes inflammation, disrupts gut health, and may indirectly affect hormones. The liver converts fructose from sugar into fat, which can increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
For those watching their sugar intake, a single Amazing Greens smoothie could provide over 100% of the recommended daily added sugar maximum per the American Heart Association. The occasional treat may not be an issue, but regularly consuming these high sugar smoothies could negate many of the potential health benefits.
Making a Lower Sugar Version
Luckily, it’s easy to modify the Amazing Greens recipe to be lower in sugar and higher in nutrients. Here are some simple swaps to try:
- Use 100% orange juice instead of orange sherbet. Look for unsweetened orange juice without added sugars.
- Swap apple juice concentrate for a whole apple, carrot, or beet to provide natural sweetness with fiber.
- Include an avocado for creamy texture, fiber, and healthy fats.
- Add lemon or lime juice for a tangy flavor and vitamin C.
- Use plain yogurt or kefir instead of sherbet for probiotics and protein.
- Mix in flax or chia seeds for anti-inflammatory omega-3s.
- Blend in extra spinach, kale, or broccoli for a nutrition boost.
- Top with crunchy nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts, hemp, or pumpkin seeds.
With simple substitutions like these, you can easily transform Amazing Greens into a well-balanced smoothie that still packs in the fruits, veggies, and greens.
Is Amazing Greens Worth the Cost?
At around $5-$8 per 16oz cup, Amazing Greens is one of the more expensive smoothie options at Jamba Juice. Is it worth the splurge?
On one hand, you are getting a big dose of leafy greens that can be difficult to eat otherwise. The combination of wheatgrass, chlorella, parsley, spinach, kale, and broccoli in a portable smoothie makes it easy to ingest several servings of veggies at once.
However, with proper meal planning, you could buy these same ingredients at the grocery store for a fraction of the cost to blend at home. And you’ll avoid the excess sugars that come with the Jamba Juice version.
If you struggle to eat enough greens and don’t mind the high sugar content, then occasionally treating yourself to an Amazing Greens smoothie can be a convenient way to get more nutrition. But for everyday smoothies, making your own lower sugar version at home is the healthier and more budget-friendly option.
Healthy Alternatives to Amazing Greens
Here are some lower sugar smoothie options at Jamba Juice that still provide ample fruits and vegetables:
Orange Berry Bliss
Made with orange sherbet, strawberries, banana, and orange juice, this provides a hefty dose of vitamin C and potassium. Skip the sherbet to further cut the sugar.
With mango, peaches, banana, passionfruit juice and lime sherbet, this smoothie delivers vitamin A and vitamin C. Substitute Greek yogurt for the sherbet.
Protein Berry Lime Slim
This blend of strawberries, berry juice, lime, and pea protein powder offers antioxidants, vitamin C, and 15g protein to help you stay full. One of the lowest sugar choices at Jamba.
Orange Dream Machine
A mix of orange juice, banana, whey protein, and omega-3s from flaxseed provides vitamin C, potassium, protein, and healthy fats with lower sugar impact.
Choosing these items without the sherbet and adding extra whole fruits or greens will further reduce the sugar content while still providing ample flavor and nutrition from natural ingredients.
Should You Drink Amazing Greens Every Day?
Daily juicing or smoothies can be a convenient way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. However, Amazing Greens may not be the best choice for a daily habit due to its high sugar content.
Consuming 44+ grams of added sugar every day could lead to health issues over time. Occasionally enjoying this sweet treat may be fine, but opt for lower sugar smoothies or homemade versions if making green smoothies a regular habit.
Focus on smoothie recipes that emphasize whole, minimally processed ingredients like:
- Whole fruits & veggies
- Fresh leafy greens
- Plain yogurt or kefir
- Nut butters
- Seeds like chia, flax, or hemp
- Coconut water
- Herbs and spices like cinnamon, ginger, turmeric
Sweeten as needed with small amounts of honey, maple syrup, or banana instead of fruit juice concentrates. This prevents excess blood sugar spikes while still providing nutrients and plant compounds.
Smoothies made with primarily whole foods will increase your vitamin, mineral, fiber, and antioxidant intake without negative impacts. Adding a daily green smoothie, for instance, can help you effortlessly eat more veggies.
If you do indulge in the occasional Amazing Greens treat, balance it out by eating whole, unprocessed foods for the rest of your meals. Moderation and variety are key when incorporating sweetened smoothies like this into an overall healthy diet.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Amazing Greens does provide significant vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content from all the greens. However, its very high sugar content from fruit juice concentrate makes it more of a treat than a daily health drink.
Enjoying this satisfying sweet green smoothie from Jamba Juice occasionally is unlikely to cause harm. But regularly consuming 44+ grams of added sugar could counteract the intended health benefits.
To make this smoothie a more nutritious option:
- Skip the sherbet and use low sugar orange juice or whole fruits and veggies instead
- Include avocado, yogurt, nut butter, seeds, or protein powder for satiety
- Sweeten minimally with small amounts of honey or maple syrup if needed
- Keep overall sugar under 25 grams per serving
When making green smoothies a daily habit, choose recipes focused on whole foods over fruit juices whenever possible. This ensures you maximize the natural vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants from ingredients like spinach, kale, parsley, broccoli, and wheatgrass.