UH Today is produced by seniors in the Journalism program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.



How healthy is Jamba Juice?

By Sarah Pacheco

To find relief from the high temperatures of the day, University of Hawai`i at Manoa students hurry to Jamba Juice, located on the second floor of the Campus Center.  Smoothies there may offer a solution to the heat, but health-conscious students wonder if the smoothies are a truly healthy snack. 

The Jamba Juice website says the smoothies produced by the national company are healthy meals and snacks.  The site adds “We provide nutrient-rich smoothies that give consumers a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, potassium, calcium and fiber.”  For those wanting to improve their smoothie’s nutritional content, boosts, which consist of herbs, minerals and vitamins, can be added free of charge.

The claim of Jamba Juice is that their smoothies are only made of 100 percent natural ingredients needed by the body and the brain to function properly.  “Natural” or “organic” does not always equal healthy, though.  The popular Orange Dream Machine flavor packs 540 calories for one 24-ounce Original serving size.  Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended 2000-calorie diet, one smoothie equals one-quarter of a person’s daily calories. 

Chad K. Lee, a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness who has a degree in Kinesiology from California State Sacramento, adds, “There is a difference in calorie intake per individual.  Most of the population feels a normal intake is around 2000 calories.  You can’t say that’s the same for everyone based on an individual’s resting heart rate.”  A resting heart rate, or RHR, determines how many calories are needed to sustain life when the body is at rest.  The larger the body or the more the body is active, the larger the calorie intake. 

In addition to a high calorie count, the Orange Dream Machine smoothie also contains 37 percent of a person’s daily value of carbohydrates, most of which comes from sugar, and 13 percent of a person’s daily value of sodium.  The good news is that the sugars come from the fruits and yogurt used to make the smoothies.  These types of sugars are unrefined, meaning they are found naturally in the food and are considered by nutritionists to be better than refined, or added, sugars because there are usually other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber present in the food.  However, no matter the source of the sugars, too much can lead to health problems such as cavities, hyperactivity, diabetes and weight gain.

“Most people fall into the trap that they drink Jamba Juice then go ahead and eat a full meal,” Lee explains.  “But basically Jamba Juice is a meal within itself because it’s so high in calories.  If they’re not watching their calories, regardless of if you’re eating healthy, the high amount of calories is still going to add up to something unhealthy.”

Some people grab a Jamba smoothie for reasons other than health.  David Wilkis, a senior at UH-M, says that he drinks Jamba Juice when he wants something sweet or when he sees a Jamba Juice store.  “For me, calories aren’t a big issue,” Wilkis states. 

For others, a fresh and nutrient-rich meal is something for which they search.  Zach Oda, a UH-M sophomore, explains “I don’t really go to Jamba Juice.  There are so many calories, especially from sugar.  It’s just not worth it to me.”

To reduce calorie and sugar content, Jamba Juice spent two years at a California research and development lab to develop a low-cal, low sugar smoothie.  “We removed the sherbet/sorbet/non-fat vanilla yogurt (depending on the product) as well as reduced the amount of fruit juice on average by 2/3,” the Jamba website explains.  “Then we added more fruit to keep the same great taste, as well as a proprietary low calorie smoothie base, called the lower calorie dairy base.”  The four “Enlightened Smoothies” flavors have between 280 to 320 calories and between 45 to 63 grams of sugar for an Original 24-ounce serving.

“On the flip-side, if there is someone who eats poorly and wants to start being healthy, Jamba Juice is a good alternative,” Lee states.  “If you’re not going to eat anything else with the Jamba Juice at that meal, I think it’s fine.” 

Those who still want a refreshing smoothie with fewer calories and less sugar can use the recipes found on the Jamba Juice website, www.jambajuice.com, for inspiration and make their own smoothie.  The fruits will be fresh and people can monitor what is put in the smoothies.  Nutritional information and ingredients of Jamba smoothies can also be found on the website and in catalogue books in Jamba stores.  Another alternative to Jamba Juice is locally owned franchises.  Locally grown fruits are usually used, so there is a minimal loss of nutrients. 

“Consistency is the name of this game,” Lee emphasizes.  “It’s about a lifestyle.  People are so busy now; they need something on the go.  Jamba Juice promotes this lifestyle, so does the popular culture.” 


© 2005 UHM Journalism program and students.