Costco’s fruit smoothies have become a popular grab-and-go option for people looking for a quick, tasty treat. But are these smoothies as nutritious as they seem? With high amounts of natural sugars and calories, Costco’s fruit smoothies may not be the healthiest choice for every day.
What’s in Costco’s fruit smoothies?
Costco’s pre-made fruit smoothies are available in several delicious flavors like strawberry banana, mango pineapple, and peach. The main ingredients are fruit purees and juices like strawberry puree, banana puree, mango juice, pineapple juice, peach juice, and yogurt. The nutrition facts show these smoothies are high in calories and sugars:
As you can see, one 12 oz smoothie contains 260-270 calories and over 50 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. With over two days worth of added sugars in one smoothie, this makes Costco’s pre-made fruit smoothies a high sugar food.
Are the ingredients healthy?
Costco’s fruit smoothies provide nutrients from some healthy ingredients like fruit purees and yogurt.
Fruit purees like strawberry, banana, mango, pineapple, and peach provide important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, strawberries offer vitamin C, mangos contain vitamin A, and bananas provide potassium. Fruit purees also supply beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols and carotenoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Yogurt adds protein and calcium, along with probiotics that support digestive and immune health. However, Costco’s smoothies appear to use non-fat or low-fat yogurt, which reduces the protein and calcium versus full-fat yogurt.
So while the fruit and yogurt elements offer some nutritional value, the high calorie and sugar content outweigh the potential benefits.
Are Costco smoothies better than other smoothies?
Compared to smoothies from juice bars or coffee shops, Costco’s pre-made smoothies are generally cheaper in price. However, their nutritional value is similar to other pre-made bottled smoothies.
For example, here’s a nutrition comparison of 12 oz smoothies from Costco and two other brands:
As you can see, the calorie and sugar content is nearly identical amongst these major smoothie brands. So in terms of nutritional quality, Costco’s bottled smoothies are not necessarily better or worse than others on the market. The main advantage is the lower price point at Costco.
Should you drink Costco smoothies every day?
Given their high calorie and sugar content, Costco’s fruit smoothies should not be consumed daily. The American Heart Association advises limiting added sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories.
For a 2000 calorie diet, this equals about 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. With over 50 grams of sugar in one smoothie, drinking one per day would easily exceed the recommended limit.
Consuming excess added sugars like those in Costco smoothies has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. Too much sugar can also lead to energy crashes, mood swings, and tooth decay.
Occasional enjoyment of these smoothies is fine, but they should not be a part of your daily breakfast or snack routine. Limit smoothie consumption to 2-3 times per week at most.
Healthier smoothie options
If you want to drink smoothies more regularly for health benefits, consider making your own at home. This allows you to control the ingredients and reduce added sugars.
Some healthy smoothie recipes to try:
– Berry protein smoothie – Greek yogurt, mixed berries, milk, ground flaxseed, and protein powder
– Green monster smoothie – Spinach, mango, banana, avocado, orange juice, and vanilla Greek yogurt
-PB and banana smoothie – Banana, peanut butter, milk, vanilla, and ice
-Tropical fruit smoothie – Pineapple, mango, banana, coconut water, lime juice, and vanilla whey protein powder
Aim for smoothies with at least 2-3 servings of fruit/veggies, a protein source like Greek yogurt or protein powder, and minimal added sweeteners. Limit fruit juice to 2-3 oz per serving to reduce excess sugars.
Making your own smoothies also allows you to control portion sizes. Limit homemade smoothies to about 12 oz rather than supersized 20-24 oz versions you find at shops.
Should kids drink Costco smoothies?
Costco’s pre-bottled fruit smoothies are not the best choice for kids due to their high calorie and sugar content.
The American Heart Association recommends the following daily sugar limits for children:
– Ages 2-18 years old: Less than 25 g added sugars daily
– Ages 4-8 years old: 21 g or less daily
– Ages 9-13 years old: 28 g or less daily
With over 50 g of sugar per serving, Costco smoothies far exceed the recommended daily limits for kids. Consuming sugary drinks like these on a regular basis can promote unhealthy weight gain and increase cavities in children.
If you occasionally let your child enjoy a small portion of a Costco smoothie as a treat, limit it to 4-6 oz at a time. But these smoothies should not be a daily snack or beverage for kids. Focus on healthier smoothies you make at home with real fruit, yogurt, and minimal added sweeteners instead.
Costco’s bottled fruit smoothies provide a convenient on-the-go energy boost and supply some nutrients from fruits like strawberries and bananas. However, their high calorie and sugar content make them more of a dessert than a health food. Drinking Costco smoothies daily can promote weight gain and other problems due to excess added sugars.
Occasionally enjoying these pre-made smoothies is fine, but they should not be a staple in your regular diet. Make your own smoothies at home using whole fruits, vegetables, protein, and minimal sweeteners for a healthier way to get your smoothie fix. Limit juice portions and added sugars, and keep kids’ portions small. Getting nutrients from whole produce should be the focus when using smoothies to boost your fruit and veggie intake.