Juice bars and restaurants portraying themselves as “healthy” have been popping up across America. One such place that has blanketed the metro Detroit area and nation is Tropical Smoothie Cafe. But are their smoothies good for you? 

The short answer is IT DEPENDS. 

Walk into a Tropical Smoothie Cafe and you’re given the impression this is a restaurant for health conscious people. Their menu is an expansive list of fruit smoothies and their food menu has plenty of relatively healthy options. 

On the surface, this looks like a great place for health conscious people, and it can be, but customers need to beware of the hidden danger lurking behind the counter that goes into ALL BUT TWO smoothies here, Turbinado. 


Every smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe (except Detox Island Green & Triple Berry Oat) gets a scoop of Turbinado and if you’re not paying attention to the small print on the menu you may not even realize this is added to your seemingly healthy smoothie. So what is Turbinado? 

If you guessed Turbinado is sugar, you guessed right. Turbinado is a type of partially refined light brown cane sugar similar to demerara but with larger crystals. Turbinado is billed as the “healthier sugar” because it’s less processed than refined white sugar and contains trace minerals but the minerals contained in Turbinado most certainly don’t make it nutritious and don’t negate the fact this is still just sugar, regardless of how it’s being marketed to consumers. 

𝗟𝗲𝘁’𝘀 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗮𝘁 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗧𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝗺𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗲 𝗖𝗮𝗳𝗲’𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝗽𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗿 𝘀𝗺𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗲𝘀— 

 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗮 𝗕𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗻𝗮 𝗠𝗮𝘅- 

Sounds super healthy, right? You better look closely at the nutritional information. This one has 880 calories, 29 grams of fat, 130 grams of carbs, and 97 grams of sugar. 


Even if you order it without the Turbinado, which you should do with every smoothie offered at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, you are still getting 70 grams of sugar. If you order this thinking you’re being healthy, think again. 

Add one of their 500-600 calorie sandwich wraps to this smoothie for lunch and your “healthy” lunch has around 1400 calories!! 

If you’re trying to lose weight, this meal likely won’t help. 

𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗱 𝗧𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝗺𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗲? 

Not necessarily. You can eat healthy here but you’ve got to pay close attention to the nutritional information of their smoothies and food options and make sure you skip the Turbinado. 

Some of their smoothies, such as the Detox Island Green, do not have Turbinado added and are actually very low in calories (180 calories). 

It’s important to reiterate that you can opt out of having Turbinado added to any smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe but only if you ask to have it omitted when you order. Pay close attention to the kid behind the counter that’s making your smoothie, however, because on too many occasions (and at several different locations) I’ve had the employee throw a scoop of Turbinado sugar in out of habit even though I specifically asked to have it omitted. 

As with almost any restaurant, you can accomplish eating a healthy meal that’s low in fat, low in sugar, and low in calories at Tropical Smoothie Cafe but you have to be aware of the hidden dangers that lurk behind seemingly healthy items, such as Turbinado sugar. 

One last note about Tropical Smoothie Cafe. With any sandwich wrap ordered here you get a choice of a bag of chips or a piece of fruit (typically an apple or orange). Take the fruit! 😉  

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