Have you been to a juice bar lately?

“Immune Builder,” “Pineapple Passion” and “Zeus Juice” are just some flavors to choose from. What’s in a name? Just how nutritious are these smoothies?

Juice bars are sprouting up all over the place. They’re one of the fastest growing fast food trends in the nation. For a society on the go, smoothies seem to provide just what we need. Or do they? Nutrition specialist Carolyn Collins, R.D., of Tampa General Health Care says a smoothie full of fruits and vegetables can’t replace a healthy meal.

Collins explains, “Yes, you can add it as a supplement, but you don’t want it to be a replacement.”

She suggests to get the most out of a smoothie choose orange juice because it’s more nutritious than apple, grapefruit, pineapple or grape juice. Also, ask for other extras, like protein, to balance the high carbohydrates found in fruits.

“You can get the fiber in the blended juice. You can get the vitamin C, some of the other vitamins, and you can add some fat and water soluble vitamins,” says Collins.

Juice bar manager Randy Clunn says it doesn’t matter which smoothie you choose. Each one is packed with ingredients. “The surgeon general recommends four-and-a-half servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and each of our smoothies is equal to that, if not exceeds that,” he says.

Take wheatgrass juice for example. Randy says it’s the equivalent of two-and-a-half pounds of raw vegetables.

Randy says, “I’ll put eight or nine carrots in my juice, and think, ‘Well, how long would that take me to eat that?’ It would take forever.”

While smoothies are often low in fat, most contain between 300 and 500 calories, something to keep in mind the next time you’ve got a craving. Besides counting calories, you may also find yourself counting money. Smoothies cost about $3 each.

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