How Healthy Are Smoothies And Juices ?

How many of us have grabbed a smoothie or a juice when we’re trying to be super healthy? They’re packed with fruit/veg and labelled “Innocent”, 1 of your 5 a day, superfoods, vitamins, clean, green detox. They have that health halo effect so they’re surely a healthy no brainier?

However, with their bright colourful bottles and healthy labelling it’s sometimes easy to forget that they are full of sugar and are ultimately carbohydrate in a bottle. It might say “no added sugar/refined” on the label but it doesn’t mean it’s sugar free. Those naturally occurring fruit sugars are still sugar and liquid carbs. Great for an energy hit but keep in mind the sugar and potential calorie content, particularly if you’re on a calorie controlled diet!

Currently there aren’t any restrictions on the words the industry can use in their labels. Juices and smoothies are also exempt from the sugar tax as its classed as naturally occurring sugar. However, the NHS suggests limiting consumption of fruit juice and smoothies to a maximum of 150ml a day.

For example:
Tropicana smooth orange juice (250ml) = 22.5g sugar (5.5 tsp).

Naked Green Machine juice (250ml) = 28.5g sugar (7 tsp).

Innocent pineapple, banana and coconut smoothie (250ml) = 31g sugar (8 tsp).

Take the Green Machine juice above. One small bottle contains 3.3 apples, 1/3 kiwi, 1 banana, a slice of pineapple and a slice 1/3 of a mango. That’s a lot of fruit and a pretty sizeable fruit salad if you were to eat it as whole fruit. There’s also 3 large oranges in a bottle of OJ. Would you usually eat that much fruit in one sitting if it wasn’t in a drink? It’s really easy to over consume calories in liquid form.

That small bottle of Innocent strawberry and banana smoothie also has more calories, carbs and sugar than a thick slice of white bread smothered in strawberry jam!

By blending fruit you’re removing most of the healthy fibre from the fruit and consuming mainly just the fruit sugars. Juices are even more concentrated. Eating the fruit whole keeps the sugars and fibre intact, taking longer to digest which may help you feel fuller for longer and avoid having a blood sugar spike.

In summary, juices and smoothies are a good way to get fruit and veg into your diet if you struggle hitting your 5 a day. They‘re nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. However, keep in mind that unsweetened fruit/vegetable juices/smoothies only ever count as one of your 5 a day no matter how many glasses you consume in a day. Also keep in mind the concentrated fruit sugar and calorie content if you’re on a calorie controlled diet.

If you like juices and smoothies then you can work them into your calorie allowance and consume them as part of a balanced diet. Try eating some whole fruit/veg as a snack instead or dilute the juice 50:50 with water to reduce the sugar content. Some brands also do lower calorie options which are already bulked out with water like Trop 50 which has around half the sugar and calories.

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