Trendy juices and smoothies: are they good for you?

Trendy juices and smoothies: are they good for you?

Freshly squeezed, pressed, green, kale or berry are just some of the juices and smoothies that now fill menus at cafes and local juice bars – but just how healthy are they?

At some point, these juices and smoothie blends were originally a fruit, but by the time they appear on your table, they are unlikely to be as good for you, as a simple piece of fruit would have been.

Often these tasty drinks contain high amounts of sugar. If the drink contains yoghurt or ice cream, you also need to consider how many calories it has, especially if the drink accompanies, rather than replaces, a meal.

Juices

Fresh juice drinks can contain the same amount of sugar as soft drink, but not the same nasty preservatives.

“Juice has less fibre than a whole fruit or vegetable does, and fruit juices in particular are likely to have a higher glycemic index — a measure of how a food raises blood-sugar levels — than a whole fruit,” according to Harvard Medical School.

In simplest terms, without the fibre from its pulp, the human body can’t slow down the digestion of the fruit’s sugar and so it can be stored as fat.

Susan Jebb from the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Unit at Cambridge University said “Fruit juice isn’t the same as intact fruit and it has as much sugar as many classical sugar drinks.”

“It is also absorbed very fast, so by the time it gets to your stomach, your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly.”

Smoothies

Smoothies are an easy way to consume a lot of calories. When ordering a smoothie, be sure to check if it contains additional sugar, syrup or honey.

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, if you’re making your own smoothies, make sure you avoid fruit-flavoured yoghurts which often contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners and fruit syrups.

Try to use bananas sparingly as they have a high glycemic index – and go lightly on sweeteners, even ‘healthy’ sweeteners like honey.

There are some simple rules to follow when ordering a juice or smoothie:

  • Ask for the whole fruit to be blended into the drink, using all the fibrous pulp.
  • Add some vegetables, maybe some carrot, avocado, spinach or kale.
  • Don’t add extra syrups.
  • Opt for fresh juice, instead of bottled.
  • Only have small glasses of regular fruit juice (150mL or less)
  • If you’re having a meal, choose a low-calorie beverage. This might mean avoiding yoghurt-based drinks
  • Make your own! The best way to know exactly what your drink contains, is to do it yourself.
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