Outside magazine, August 1996
Increase your brain power, detoxify your digestive tract, even improve your sexual performance. These are the promises being proffered by the latest twist in short-attention-span health food making its way east: souped-up smoothies.
Yes, of course, fruit, juice, and nonfat yogurts are worlds healthier than fast food, but this new breed of smoothie goes well beyond such basics. Stroll into a Jamba Juice--a chain that's exploded with 27 stores between Sacramento and San Diego in the last three years--and you might be offered bee pollen, brewer's yeast, spirulina, Chinese herbs, and a antioxidants in your shake.
While many athletes swear by dietary supplements, they're no more scientifically proven in a smoothie than off the shelf of a health-food store. And as you might discern from spirulina's generic name--pond scum--some of these products can be contaminated with elements like, "insect parts, bird feathers and droppings," according to studies compiled by the National Coucil Against Health Fraud.
What's not controversial is the stuff that tastes good: fruit. "It's a shame they have to promote these weird powders that are unsubstantiated," says Paula Benedict, chairwoman of the California Dietetic Association's Consumer Protection Committee. "They should promote the fruit, which is rich in carbohydrates and low in fat, meaning increased energy for any athlete."
Better yet, smoothies are simple to make. Here's a basic recipe for a two-cup serving:
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped fruit
But if you'd rather let someone else clean the blender, try an offering from Jamba Juice or the like. Just ask them to hold the pond scum.