Your Smoothie Bowl Is Probably Full Of Sugar, But It Doesn’t Have To Be

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By Leigh Weingus

smoothie bowl

Obsessed with those pretty smoothie bowls blowing up your Instagram feed?

Hey, we don’t blame you — but you might want to read this first.

If you’re blending up kale and frozen fruit and adorning those homemade creations with granola, fruit and flowers, or stopping by that local smoothie joint to get your fix, know those picture-perfect concoctions can be giant sugar bombs.

Instagrammer nyfood_digest tops their smoothie bowl with kiwi, bananas and strawberries.

Just think about it: You’re blending sugary yogurt or fruit juices, dumping honey into your smoothie, and then topping everything with granola and dried fruit. That’s a lot of sweet — even if there are some veggies in the mix.

Katherine Brooking, RD and co-founder of, said smoothies get even sweeter when you’re grabbing them to go.

“Some smoothie chains and quick serve restaurants use pureed fruit, fruit sorbets or fruit juice with added sugar to make their beverages,” she told The Huffington Post. “If you’re not careful, a large-sized smoothie from some chains can cost you nearly 600 calories and over 130 grams of sugar.”

She has a point: Starbucks’ strawberry smoothie has 41 grams of sugar in it. That’s more than what’s in a 12-ounce can of Coke.

And that’s just the base. If you’re going for a full-on smoothie bowl, toppings can be dangerous.

“Although toppings are all the craze with smoothie bowls, it’s quite easy to add heaps of calories by adding granola, dried fruit, shredded coconut and more,” nutritionist McKel Hill told The Telegraph in February.

smoothie bowl
Instagrammer Spring Cafe packs on the fruit, seeds and coconut chips.

So, how can we get the benefits smoothies can provide without overloading on sugar? Dr. Susan Mitchell, RD, suggests getting rid of as much added sugar as possible.

“If you want the lowest amount of added sugars, use plain Greek yogurt,” she told HuffPost. “It’s high in protein and has no added sugar. You can add your own sweetener if desired, or get your sweetness from fresh fruit in season. Also, be a label sleuth. Compare brands on the nutrition facts label.”

As for toppings, reach for the almonds.

“Add your favorites nuts — toast them if you want more flavor — to boost protein content of your smoothie bowl and add healthy fats,” Mitchell said.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re all for your love of smoothie bowls. We just want to make sure you’re doing ‘em right.

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