Jamba Juice is a relatively nutritious fast-food chain known for its fruit smoothies and juice blends with sherbet and frozen yogurt, but is ordering there a truly healthy choice? It doesn't take a registered dietitian to assess the facts, and we've got the information you need to determine for yourself: is Jamba Juice healthy? Short answer, not healthy enough. We have some all-natural tips for how to make better classic smoothies at home.
What's in a Jamba Juice Smoothie?
Even a small fresh fruit juice cup from Jamba Juice can have up to 58 grams of sugar content. Obviously there are some natural sugars in fruit (that's what makes them so sweet), but there's more to Jamba Juice than just natural whole-food ingredients. Enough to justify a class-action lawsuit against Jamba Juice brought by The Center for Science in the Public Interest for misrepresenting their products as healthy eating when instead they're using cheap, non-natural ingredients. This includes added sugars in their supposedly all-fruit smoothies and replacing expensive menu items like kale with other less costly ingredients.
So that means that along with the ingredients you can actually see like soy milk and whole foods like blueberries or chia seeds, at the end of the day you could find fewer calories by purchasing a McDonald's milkshake or a Starbucks coffee than ordering at Jamba Juice. How is this possible?
Is Jamba Juice Healthy? The Real Ingredients Revealed
It's sad but it's true: Jamba Juice should be treated more like a sweet treat or dessert rather than a healthy snack. Here's why.
1. Sugar Content
Let's review some of the sugar stats when it comes to Jamba Juice menu items.
- Strawberry Surf Rider: This recipe contains 327 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, and 79.9 grams of carbs. A whopping 71.2 of those carb grams come from sugar.
- Caribbean Passion: The calorie count of this menu item is 254, and while the servings of fruit are real, with strawberries and peaches delivering vitamin C, the orange sherbet and passion fruit mango juice blend up the sugar content to 55.9 grams.
- Peanut Butter Moo'd Smoothie: Though this decadent dessert tries its best with nonfat yogurt, bananas, and peanut butter, the sugar content still comes in at 63 grams for the small 16-ounce size.
- Acai Primo Energy Bowl: The 16-ounce serving of Jamba Juice's Acai Primo Energy Bowl also has 58 grams of sugar and 440 calories that it would take over 2 hours of walking to burn off.
- Fresh-squeezed juices: Even items that don't contain the sugary sherbet content like carrot juice still have 19.5 grams of sugar and no dietary fiber content to offset it (you'd need the pulp of a smoothie for that). Menu items like the Watermelon Breeze come with 82 grams of sugar when 2 cups of actual watermelon only have 18 grams of sugar.
As you can see, fruit juices and fruit purees all contain some sugar, but even the veggie menu items have added sugars at Jamba Juice to make the products more appealing to customers' taste buds. Without the pulp content of fruits and their skins, you're missing out on a lot of nutrients, and menu items like the Apple N Greens Smoothie tend to be more fruit-based than veggie-based, again because sugar tends to taste better than the bitter edge of vegetables like kale.
2. Lack of Satiety
Those on a juice cleanse know that hunger can be an issue if you're not consuming the fiber and roughage of whole foods. If you're on a dedicated cleanse, MCT oil can add something more substantial for your body to digest (it also works to lend feelings of fullness while fasting), but if you're getting a juice or a smoothie from Jamba Juice, it doesn't work as a drinkable meal replacement. Meal replacement shakes often contain whey protein and an abundance of vegetable fiber to make sure you've received the proper amount of balanced nutrients, and also to ensure that you're not still hungry after you've consumed a sufficient amount of calories.
If you're interested in weight loss, shopping at Jamba Juice instead of utilizing meal replacement shakes and powders could work against you. You've had all the calories and sugar of a meal but not the full nutrient and fiber support, which may lead you to eat sooner to try and feel full, doubling or even tripling your calorie intake.
Besides the weight-loss issue, shopping at Jamba Juice multiple times a week costs way more than buying fresh fruits and veggies and blending them up yourself. Not only are you not getting all the best parts of your food, but you're also paying more for less! A juice or smoothie without proper nutritional content is basically a soda without the fizz or affordability: empty calories for at least $5 bucks a pop.
Homemade Healthy Jamba Juice Alternatives
We gave you some problematic Jamba Juice examples. So here are some much healthier homemade alternative recipes designed by the crew here at VeggieShake.
Instead of the sherbet-heavy Strawberry Surf Rider, how about this heart-healthy recipe with strawberries, peaches, and raspberries? It's just as thick and visually appealing as the cup you'd get from Jamba Juice, but it has superior whole fruit content and some ginger and coconut water for anti-inflammatory support and blood pressure control.
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup peaches, frozen
- 1/4 raspberries, frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger, ground
- 1/2 cup coconut water
Forget Jamba Juice's Caribbean Passion in favor of this tropical blend from VeggieShake that will give you an energy boost along with protein-rich hemp seeds (which contain all the essential amino acids), the antioxidant and immune-boosting content of cranberries and orange juice, plus tasty mangoes and vibrant cherries for color and flavor.
- 1/2 cup frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen cherries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
3. Guilt-Free, Healthy Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
Rather than worry about the sugar content of a Peanut Butter Moo'd Smoothie, satisfy your sweet tooth with this healthy alternative to a Reese's treat. That's right: all the rich taste of a peanut butter cup made with coconut sugar, almond milk, banana, jicama, and MCT oil derived from coconut oil. Even with adding a couple of pieces of candy on top, you're still doing your health a true service as you enjoy a sweet treat.
- 1 banana, frozen
- 1/2 cup jicama, cubed
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
- 2 mini peanut butter cups
- 1 tablespoon MCT oil
4. Acai Oat Bowl
Replace the Acai Primo Energy Bowl from Jamba Juice with our overnight Acai Oat Bowl: blend up your preferred fruits, possibly with some Greek yogurt (for extra texture and thickness) and cinnamon, then combine that smoothie with a bowl of rolled oats, chia seeds, and granola. Simple and with a prep time that's finished in minutes, you can wake up to this treat first thing while you're still in your PJs, and enjoy it without having to spend the extra money or go through a customer service exchange first.
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2 cups cashew milk
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons acai powder
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Toppings: strawberries, cashews, granola oats
5. Orange-less Orange Juice
For a fresh-squeezed juice alternative, check out our Orange-less Orange Juice. You can make carrot juice yourself with or without a juicer and then add it together with apples, cucumber, and ginger for a refreshing glass of antioxidants and phytonutrients for eye health and more.
- 5 carrots
- 2 apples
- 1 cucumber
- 1 piece ginger
The VeggieShake Superfood Blend
We here at VeggieShake have built a business around our Superfood Blends because we know the value of eating whole-food ingredients. With 34 high-quality, non-GMO superfoods like kale, ashwagandha, beet, and acai, our blends come with 20 grams of filling protein per serving, 5 grams of fiber for digestive health, and all of it is natural, vegan, organic, gluten-free, and made in the USA. We're proud of our product, and know it would serve you better in a homemade smoothie than a thousand trips to Jamba Juice to overspend on sugary sherbets. Why not give it a try today?