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A smoothie cup refers to a container that holds a fruit-based beverage, or to the contents of such a container. The containers may be either disposable or reusable, while smoothie cups may be either liquid or frozen. These types of containers and beverages require some adjustments if used by those with lactose intolerance or diabetic concerns.
When people use the term "smoothie cup" to talk about beverage containers, they might be talking about disposable or reusable cups. The disposable cups normally hold anywhere from 12 to 20 ounces (about 355 to 591 milliliters), and they are made of durable plastic. These cups have a domed lid with a large hole in the center for a big straw. These types of cups are provided by fast and health food chains when people need something to eat or drink on-the-go. Although these types of cups are cited as being a major environmental problem and waste source, most of the cups are recyclable.
The reusable type of smoothie cup normally is a metal container, although some are made of heavy plastic. It is extremely similar to a thermos in appearance, but instead of keeping a beverage hot, the cup keeps the smoothie cold. This is necessary if the person intends to drink the smoothie slowly, because smoothies typically contain dairy-based ingredients such as yogurt, milk or ice cream that can spoil quickly if left out in heat. These cups come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors to suit the user's personality and beverage needs, but they all are designed to be used over and over again, eliminating the need to put a plastic cup in the trash or recycling bin.
In regard to smoothie cups as the beverage, the only requirements are a fruit and a base or thinner such as milk or yogurt. The combinations are up to the consumer and often are influenced by what is immediately available in the region. For instance, in the United States, a flavor such as banana and strawberry is common, but in a southern region, combinations such as mango and pineapple might be more standard. Regardless of the combinations selected, a person may opt to freeze portions of the smoothie to create frozen smoothie cups, which some people enjoy as a treat in hot weather similar to a popsicle.
A major element in a smoothie cup is dairy, so many people with lactose intolerance have to avoid these beverages. Lactose intolerance is a medical condition in which people do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to digest milk sugar. When a person who is lactose intolerant wants a smoothie cup, he has to substitute the milk-based ingredients with products such as soy milk. Fruit and milk are primarily various types of sugars, so smoothies also sometimes are a concern for those with diabetes, a condition in which a person cannot handle the sugar he ingests. A diabetic can have a smoothie cup, but may need a dose of insulin to do so, depending on the severity of the diabetes.