Young and Middle-Aged Women Fuel Smoothie Boom
by KAMIKA DUNLAP
FRESH STRAWBERRIES, bananas, orange sherbet, ice or nonfat frozen yogurt with
a boost of Ginseng may make perfect for a dessert beverage, Doris Iberico calls
"I don't want to eat much, but I do want to start my day healthy," said Iberico, 38, of Berkeley as she took a seat on the bench outside of a crowded juice bar to drink her smoothie and wait for her ride. "I think of smoothies as the future nutritional fast food."
Smoothies, a California craze once relegated to health restaurants and fitness clubs, have gone mainstream.
The smoothie industry is projecting
sales of more than $6 million this year, said Dan Titus, director of the Juice
Gallery, a research company in Chino Hills California that concentrates on specialty
"We're all conditioned in the United States of America for a 'quick fix' and that's why vitamin sales are huge," Titus said. "If people can get vitamins in their smoothies, then it's natural to gravitate towards them."
The additions of boosts, or vitamin supplements, in smoothies have made smoothies a symbol of health and convenience.
So far, health-obsessed women ages 15-45 are responsible for smoothies' popularity.
Rhondi Schigemura, who conducts research and development trends on supplements for Jamba Juice, a San Francisco based juice bar company, said college educated and professional women are the company's primary consumers.
Women in that age range make up the majority of the population and influence society's ideas about food and health, she said.
In the world of boosts, however, the American Nutraceutical Association (ANA) decides what's cool and uncool for consumers.
"It's a self governing type of industry," Schigemura said.
The two-year-old association is made up of health care professionals and nutraceutical manufactures, which provide information about vitamins and supplements.
It is the ANA that sets the industry's standards
for manufacturing nutraceuticals.
The ANA is not associated with the Food and Drug Administration that regulates pharmceuticals, Schigemura said.
Drinks blended with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs are tested to determine the kinds of effects it will have on the body, she said.
UC Berkeley Clinical Nutritionist, Michelle Vivas said people who have diets largely composed of vitamin supplements should be careful.
Vivas said sometimes companies add multivitamins to their products to make the label look more impressive.
"It (multivitamin food and drink) makes for pretty expensive urine," Vivas said. "Total health comes from sleeping and eating right, not taking 19 different vitamins."
One popular vitamin often added to smoothies is Ginko Biloba, a supplement mostly taken by the elderly to increase blood flow to the brain. Many smoothie drinkers believe taking this supplement will increase memory, Vivas said.
"Just because you receive more blood flow to the brain doesn't increase your memory," she said.
Experts say some smoothie drinkers often rely on ingredients in the shake to keep them in shape.
"People feel good about putting something good into their bodies," said Iberico, a smoothie drinker for five years.
"The society we live in makes it easy to eat pizza and hamburgers and then pay money to fix yourself up with a boost," said Jake Wollner, a manager at Frozen Fusion juice bar in Berkeley.
Smoothies are not a substitute for eating well, Vivas said.
"A multivitamin is not going to improve a bad diet," she said.
Dina Michail, 22, a legal studies major a UC Berkeley said, she goes to juice bars about once a week for an energy boost.
"I don't know if it really works," Michail said as she sipped her Energy Juice Boost . "I definitely need some energy."
Still, for others like Sam Sims, an Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services counselor, who took a last gulp of his strawberry banana blend, "Somtimes I don't believe that boost stuff," he said. "I just drink them because they taste good."