Chew on This

A green drink isn’t always great

Smart people can be fooled. This was recently brought home to me during a small group discussion with third-year medical students at UM’s Miller School of Medicine. And although I wish it was more, our medical students do receive nutrition content through a variety of sources. I meet with them during wellness week, where they are immersed in nutrition, physical activity and wellness content.

Back to the confusion. One of my students was proudly showing off a green drink that he had purchased at the supermarket. If I recommend a green drink to a client it is to increase vegetable intake, particularly to boost vitamins A and C. I said, “Let’s take a look at the label and see what you are drinking.’’

First, a look at the ingredients. All were organic. Number one was apple juice, followed by celery, cucumber, kale and spinach juices, and six other healthy ingredients. But there was a surprise on the nutrition facts label. This drink had no fiber, only 10 percent of recommended vitamin A, 30 percent vitamin C, no iron and 21 grams of sugar.

Putting 1/2 apple, 1 stalk of celery, 1/4 cucumber, 1 cup of kale and 1 cup of spinach, plus a liquid in a Nutribullet, provides 83 percent of recommend vitamin A, 40 percent vitamin C, 6 grams of iron and 8 grams of sugar. Quite a nutrition difference between the blended juice drink and one made with whole foods. The juice drink is not bad, and it is convenient, but it might not be filling in the vitamin gaps for someone who doesn't eat enough vegetables. Don't judge a drink by its name or color. Go to the nutrition facts and the ingredient list to get the whole story.

The medical student who had proudly showed me his green drink had ordered a Nutribullet before the session ended. People just need the facts.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.