Almost everyone loves a smoothie, and most of us assume that they are a healthy option for a quick breakfast or a mid-morning pick-me-up, especially the high-profile brands such as Innocent Smoothies.
So, are Innocent smoothies healthy? Well, they are packed with fruit and leafy green vegetables and are classed as one of your five-a-day, but they do also contain a lot of natural sugar.
In order to find out more, we’ve taken an in-depth look at this popular smoothie brand to see if Innocent smoothies really are good for you.
Innocent smoothie ingredients
Innocent smoothies are made from 100% fruit and vegetables, with botanicals or seeds added to some of the flavours such as their Uplift Super smoothie which includes flax seeds and baobab, a fruit renowned for its Vitamin C benefits.
The good news is that there are no added sugars in an Innocent smoothie – all the sugar is produced naturally from the fruits packed into the drink. And they do pack the fruits into each bottle. With flavours including mango, strawberry, pomegranate, pineapple and apple, there is a smoothie to suit all tastes. The Gorgeous Greens flavour doesn’t only contain fruit, but also includes kale and courgette for a veggie kick!
Talking of vegetables, there is more good news for vegetarians and vegans, as since 2009 all Innocent smoothies are vegan-friendly and therefore guilt-free.
None of the Innocent smoothies contains dairy milk (the Totally Tropical flavour contains coconut milk – but the rest of the smoothie range are simply fruit and vegetables). There is also a dairy-free range, which is made using almonds, oats, hazelnuts or coconut milk and goes perfectly over a bowl of muesli for a delicious breakfast.
The nutritional value of Innocent smoothies
Consuming a smoothie can make it easier to reach your five-a-day target, but what are the nutritional values gained from drinking an Innocent smoothie?
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamin B helps your body release energy from food and maintains a healthy nervous system, whilst Vitamin C helps with the protection of cells and maintains healthy skin, bones and blood vessels.
For a whopping 72% of your daily Vitamin C recommendation, try the Magnificent Mango flavour smoothie – it’s also a personal favourite of mine and much nicer than of a cup of coffee mid-morning!
If you want to increase your body’s natural defence against viruses and infections than choose a smoothie high in Vitamin E. The Spark Super Smoothie is fortified with 60% of your daily requirements.
Innocent do not list iron in the nutritional values of their smoothies; however, iron is an important part of our diet and carries oxygen around the body via the red blood cells. If you are looking to add iron to your diet, it might be best to forgo Innocent smoothies and make your own drink using a mixture of green leafy vegetables such as curly kale or watercress blended together.
Which flavours offer the most nutrients?
The nutrients in each drink do vary from flavour to flavour.
The Super Smoothie range offers a better balance of nutrients than the general smoothies as these smoothies are fortified with vitamins.
A good all-rounder would be the slightly indulgent cacao and cherry flavour which boasts more than half of the RDA in Vitamins B and E – and it has a super chocolatey taste too!
If you are not a fan of bananas (which seem to be a staple in most smoothies to add thickness to the texture) then try the Uplift Super Smoothie. It has no bananas but does pack a generous 63% of your Vitamin C RDA.
Sugar in Innocent smoothies
This is where Innocent smoothies do lose a few points in the healthy eating and drinking stakes. Whilst there is absolutely no added sugar in their drinks, all the smoothies are quite high in natural sugar. This is unavoidable as natural sugar occurs in fruits and vegetables, but the important difference is that fruit and vegetables have not had sugar added to them to improve the flavour or preserve them.
The added, or refined sugar in food such as chocolate doesn’t provide any real nutritional value. But fruit provides vitamins and fibre, making an Innocent smoothie a better option than reaching for the cookie jar!
However, just keep in mind that even natural sugar found in a smoothie can be bad for you if you consume too much – that’s because it raises your blood sugar levels considerably and having too much, too often can eventually affect your health negatively.
The calorie count in Innocent smoothies and Super Smoothies ranges from 112 calories per 250ml in the Recharge Smoothie, which includes apple, mandarin, banana, carrot, peach and flax seeds with a dash of ginger, to the more calorific Berry Protein Super Smoothie with 216 calories per 360ml bottle. Whilst it contains more calories, it does also include 7.9g of soya protein.
Choose the smoothie that fits your unique health goals – if you are trying to lose some weight, go for the one with lower calories and if you are trying to increase your protein intake to build muscle, pick the one with added protein.
Do Innocent smoothies offer any health benefits?
Many of the smoothies, such as the Invigorate Super Smoothie contain Vitamin B6 which is key to helping your digestive system process any protein you eat. As your body cannot store Vitamin B6, it’s important to eat leafy greens and beans as part of a healthy diet, but an Invigorate smoothie can give you 41% of your Recommended Daily Allowance, giving you a boost of this important vitamin.
Bananas contain potassium which helps maintain healthy blood pressure and normal muscle function, and the majority of the Innocent smoothie range include this potassium-rich fruit. For a real potassium hit, try the Cinnamon and Banana Split which includes three pressed bananas.
Are Innocent Smoothies good for weight loss?
We should all try to consume more fruit and veg. The NHS gives clear guidelines on the benefits of hitting the 5-a-day target. Innocent smoothies count as one of your five-a-day, but the bad news is that however many smoothies you drink, it will only count as one portion.
The smoothies are also sugary and contain up to 216 calories and an average of 35g of sugar-based carbohydrates. So, whilst they are an enjoyable treat and a convenient way to help you reach your 5-a-day, if you are looking to lose weight, they probably shouldn’t be consumed regularly. You’d be better off with an apple or a banana.
Do Innocent smoothies count as one of your five a day?
Yes! But be warned, however many you consume, it will only count towards one portion.
Can an Innocent smoothie be bad for you?
Providing it is consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet and in moderation, an Innocent smoothie won’t be bad for you. Just make sure you drink moderate amounts and no more than 1 a day so that your health is not negatively affected in the long run by high natural sugars found in these smoothies.
Are Innocent smoothies bad for your teeth?
There is no getting around it, all sugars are bad for your teeth, but to minimise the risk we suggest drinking your smoothie through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth, or avoid smoothies which are high in citrus fruits as Vitamin C as the ascorbic acid can damage tooth enamel.
Can Innocent smoothies be frozen?
Smoothies are always better when consumed fresh. We don’t recommend freezing a shop-bought smoothie.
The verdict – Are Innocent smoothies good or bad for you?
There is no denying that Innocent smoothies are tasty, packed with fruit and do not contain concentrates. I’ve tried most of the flavours and I do enjoy them – but in moderation. They are sugar-heavy and contain sugar-based carbs, but they also offer a boost of important vitamins, minerals and fibre.
As with most foods, moderation is key. If you are on the go and need a quick pick me up, then an Innocent smoothie is a good choice and provides a convenient way to help get more fruit and vegetables into your diet.
Smoothies have long been advertised as a ‘healthy’ option, but as we’ve discovered, the sugar content is high, so it’s always best to check the nutritional information first to see if the drink is right for you.
Kerry Garner has an interest in nutrition and is always on the look-out for new, healthy and exciting snacks for her son’s packed lunch to ensure he gets a balanced diet that’s not boring. She is a keen home-cook and loves nothing more than experimenting in the kitchen and inventing nutritious, yet tasty meals for her family to enjoy.