McDonald's Smoothie vs. Odwalla Smoothie: Which Should You Choose?

August 10, 2011   32 Comments

How about a smoothie face off to see which product is the healthiest? This should be fun!

McDonald's Smoothie vs. Odwalla Smoothie

In one corner, we have McDonald's with their latest entry into the drink arena. McDonald's is trying to eat Jamba Juice's lunch and convince people that they are getting on the health train. They advertise that these are made with "REAL FRUIT".

In the other corner, we have Odwalla, once a small company - now owned by Coca Cola - focussed on "nourishing the body whole".

Both contestants weigh in at 12 ounces and they are both called "Strawberry Banana". McD's version costs $2 while Odwalla rings in at $3.50 (at my local supermarket).

BING! Here we go!

Odwalla nutritional facts:

190 calories, 0.5 g fat, 45 g carbohydrates, 38 g sugar, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 0 mg sodium, 5 Points+

McDonalds nutritional facts:

210 calories, 0.5 g fat, 49 g carbohydrates, 44 g sugars, 0 g protein, 0 g fiber, 35 mg sodium, 5 Points+

Ummm, hello? I could have saved myself $1.50! Geez, Odwalla, what did you do - share your recipe?

I would have expected McDonald's to really hit us with added sugar, but their smoothie has only one teaspoon more (5 grams) than Odwalla's.

All I gotta do is leave a little in the cup and I have the same amount of calories with the McD's smoothie.

How about the ingredients? We KNOW McDonald's has all sorts of weird stuff added to their food.

Odwalla Ingredients:

strawberry puree, apple juice, orange juice, banana puree, vitamin C, vitamin D, and beta carotene

McDonald's Ingredients:

Strawberry puree, banana puree, water, sugar, concentrated apple juice, contains less than 1% of the following: cellulose powder, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, xanthan gum, citric acid, colored with fruit and vegetable juice, pectin, ascorbic acid (preservative).

Low Fat Yogurt: Cultured Grade A reduced fat milk, sugar, whey protein concentrate, fructose, corn starch, gelatin. Contains active yogurt cultures. Ice.

So a major difference here is that McDonald's smoothie has yogurt and ice added. But, where are the artificial colors? McDonald's is using vegetable juice to color this smoothie!

Yes, there are some weird ingredients but I am astonished at how similar these two smoothies are. They tasted almost exactly the same (I preferred the McDonald's version).

Since I am a cheapskate, I will pronounce McDonald's Smoothie the better choice based on it being much less expensive.

My suggestion is to treat either of these smoothies as a TREAT. The sugar content is off the charts in BOTH of them and while they are made with fruit purees - they are still not as nutritious as the fruit's themselves.

Please share your thoughts on this comparison.

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"My suggestion is to treat either of these smoothies as a TREAT."

This. Exactly this.

Though, I was pleasantly surprised when I got one of the McD's smoothies a few weeks ago. When I ordered a "small", I actually got one that was small (12 oz) and not a 16 or 20oz one like I'd get at a lot of other places.

Oh no! I had been so excited, knowing I could enjoy a mcd's smoothie on ice cream day. Convenient, cheap, better than an actual milkshake, seemed perfect. But good lord, they put gelatin in everything these days don't they? As a vegetarian, that is one big, unnecessary problem. I'm gonna stick with greek yogurt blended with frozen fruit, I suppose.

I'll take a pass on store-bought smoothies ... I make mine at home ... no added sugar or "foreign" ingredients ... and they are delicious.

Ken Leebow

This is why I prefer Odwalla's bars to their shakes. Actually, any company's bars to smoothies. So much sugar goes into anything now a days though. It's so sad.

I despise McDonald's for their marketing practices. That alone will get me to drink an Odwalla.

They are definitely a treat, but I have to admit I LOVE the McDonald's fruit smoothies! I don't get them very often and they are like ice-cream to me and you can order them without the yogurt, which works great for me since I don't tolerate dairy very well... so as a rare (ice-cream type) treat for me.. I love them!

what about the 2g of protein and 2g of fiber that only odwalla have? that seems like an advantage to me.

@Rachel - thanks for your comment. I thought about that - but 5 grams is a teaspoon so 2 grams for an entire 12 ounces doesn't seem like much of a nutritional benefit. I think it is too small to justify all that sugar.

I'm not a fan of artificial flavours, myself - OR "natural" flavours. It's such a vague term that doesn't really mean anything at all.

I think I'll make my own smoothies ;)

Both my kids love Odwalla too!

I agree 100% to Megan Jervis' comment!

I must have missed something, I see added sugar in McD's ingredient list but not Odwalla. Fructose is a bad word these days too.

I see a lot of discussion on the sugar and colorings, etc. but what about fiber and protein? Without these essential elements (even if they are minor), the metabolizing of the sugar is that much more difficult. I'd go with the fiber and fewer non-essential ingredients any day.

I would never eat anything from Mickey D's... but in this case, I would choose the Odwalla regardless of cost because of a. the sodium found in the McDonalds smoothie and b. the "artificial flavor" ingredient. I am also curious about what constitutes artificial or natural flavors in foods- can someone clarify?

Wow, I thought I was being bad last night when I got the mango pineapple smoothie at McD's. I feel so virtuous now.

yikes i'm gonna pass on both, though maybe grab a McD if i reaaaaaaaally have to. but considering i don't even think about stopping by a McD at any point in my life, it's sort of moot point. But i'm really disappointed in Odwalla...i remember back in my college days (just a few years ago haha) when my school's foodstore and cafeteria would be stocked with odwalla and we always considered it the "healthier choice." What about Odwalla Super Food or the veggie juice versions? Are those any healthier than the ultra sweet strawberry banana smoothie? D:

If you are using real fruit, there will be fiber.

Why no fiber in MCD's smoothie? and why do they need coloring? I don't think there is too much real fruit in MCD's smoothie. A half a cup of strawberries has 1.5 gm of fiber. A half of a medium banana has 1.5 gm of fiber also. Yogurt has almost 1gm of protein per ounce. So the yogurt in MCD's is virtually non-existant. Anytime you add juice, especially concentrated juice there will be a high sugar concentration. Better to make a smoothie at home with more whole fruit and less juice or have the store bought smoothie only as a treat, but I can think of much better ways to spend my treat calories.

I'm totally surprised. I don't really do many smoothies, i'd rather eat my fruit, but i keep telling myself to make smoothies for myself and the kids. What a nice alternative for kids at McDs! Instead of "lets go get an icecream" i can confidently say "lets go get a smoothie" to go with the indoor playground fun at the local McDs on a hot summer day (in Dallas, Tx it's been over 100 degrees for over 40 days here!!) My faves on the McD's menu include their grape/apple/walnut snack tray, the $1 yogurt and fruit parfait, a $1 unsweet tea, a $1.50 grilled chicken snack wrap, and the oatmeal. Can't beat any of those for a semi-healthy snack any time of day... and you can't beat an afternoon $2/$3 snack with some free wi-fi to go with it while the kids play! ;) The key is DON'T GO when you're starved.... eat before you go, so that a snack is all you'll end up buying. You CAN buy a happy meal toy for your kids without buying the food there, as well, just in case you are in the mood to get your kids a plastic treat while you're there. :)

I'm surprised McDonalds isn't that bad! But I agree with Sue - I'd pick fiber and fewer non-essential ingredients any day.

Also, good point that 2 g fiber for 12 oz isn't much, but more importantly: what did McD's do with the fiber? If it's there naturally and not now, my "processed" red flags start waving.

McD's is so good! I like my sm00thies sans dairy so I ask for "no yogurt" when ordering.

I would still pick the Odwalla smoothie over the McDonald's one if I had to. The only difference between artificial and natural flavors is the way they are made in the lab. How is there no fiber if real fruit is being used? However small the amount of fiber is, it helps toward my final goal. I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one, Snack Girl.

I say make your own smoothie at home. WAY cheaper, WAY better AND you know what you are getting.

Alas, gelatin, you turn a potential fruit-only vegetarian smoothie into something entirely different. I'll be skipping this - but thank you Snack Girl for posting all this info! :)

What about the sodium content in McD's but not in Odwallla 35mg. Why???? Where is that coming from? I'll skip that and go with my own or Odwalla.

I'd pick the Odwalla over McD any day for a few reasons many of which have already been mentioned. 5 extra grams of sugar is alot! Although Odwall is owned by Coca-Cola, I still prefer supporting that company than McDonanalds. And, Odwalla offers a 100% plant based bottle. Most of all, though, they just taste better. :-)

Snack girl you rock! I am so happy I found your website. Thank you for this article I have been purchasing the McSmoothie lately and have been quite curious about the nutrition. Thanks again!

If you want to make a great tasting healthy smoothie that will far surpass the above mentioned smoothies in nutrition, then I would checkout Shakeology. Shakeology has been key to my 100 lb weight loss!

There is no added sugar in any Odwalla product.

I find myself to be very disappointed when you endorse food/ treats/ etc. from places like McDonald's based on their cost vs. ingredients or even company policies. If I buy an Odwalla smoothie in a store, I am buying it because I want something filling and quick, and I know that there aren't any artificial flavors or fillers in it. If I stop in at McDonald's *which I never do* I would be more tempted to also buy a small fries or something else to go with my smoothie, which 1. increases the amount of money I spend so that point becomes mute and 2. encourages me to eat fast food despite all the artificial ingredients and 3. encourages McDonald's to continue with the business plan as normal because people will still go there. I'll take the more expensive smoothie and my conscious insted.

Although very thorough, I would like to see a little research going into the "weird" ingredients in some of these fast food items. I would think they are an important factor. Might want to check out Whole Foods' list of substances they do not allow in the products they sell.

I have followed you for a good long time as I have been an avid WW go'er for years as well. I have been introduced to Forks over Knifes and what a new concept the American society should invoke (cause face it, looking around the Americans aren't getting any slimmer). Can you look into this and maybe put some ideas and recipes r/t no oils, dairy, or meat. Been doing it 3-4 weeks and have lost 14 lbs. And Feel amazingly light and energetic. Community wide we have been taught to be healthy with all this lowfat diets but this Forks over Knifes (whole food plant based plan) teaches about what we are doing on the inside of our bodies. We are all dying younger and the ones dying at early ages aren't just overweight these are avid dieters and folks that workout regularly. Please consider getting the word out. We need more "good" unprocessed and unstripped of nutrient foods available to us.

I like what lil b said about unprocessed and unstripped of nutrients. It was pointed out to me recently that most breads in the grocery store are full of "weird" ingredients. I think you might have dropped the ball on this one Snack Girl. I'll take healthy ingredients over "weird" ones anyday. Thank you

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