Sunday, February 09, 2014
FRUIT JUICES AND SMOOTHIES
Are you sweet enough?
It's not uncommon to see celebrities and fashion bloggers carrying their designer piece, be it a Chanel Boy or a Celine tote, in one hand and a so-called super-food smoothie concoction in the other. Fresh juices and smoothies have been recognised as the healthy, ‘fashionable’ beverage to drink, next to a Starbucks coffee, and I’m sure you haven’t failed to notice the increase in the number of retail establishments that are popping up and selling juices and smoothies which claim to re-energise you and fight off disease, and the number of juicer products and blenders being marketed and sold; the juice industry has long enjoyed a healthy image, however there has been some recent debate in the field of nutrition about how healthy these smoothies and fruit juices actually are.
You're all probably aware of the controversies surrounding the use of sugar, and in particular, high-fructose corn syrup, in sodas/fizzy drinks and other foods and its link with the paired epidemics of obesity and diabetes, but there is a new controversy about fruit juices and smoothies with some claiming that they are as bad for you as Coca-Cola.
The current UK government recommendation is that one 150ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice can count as one of your 5-A-Day of fruit and vegetables (note, juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, even if you have more than one glass) and a smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit/vegetable may count as two of your 5-A-Day depending on how it is made, however Dr Susan Jebb, a key figure in the nutrition field, suggests that this recommendation should be changed and the public should be encouraged to stop drinking juice. She warns that the sugars in fruit juice, albeit natural sugars rather than added sugars, are absorbed very quickly and that by the time it gets to your stomach your body cannot tell the difference between ‘healthy’ fruit juice and ‘unhealthy’ Coca-Cola and thus fruit juices and smoothies have the same effect on the body as fizzy drinks/sodas. Of course this has implications for the NutriBullet smoothie-maker gadget I have just bought!
I have always had a glass of fruit juice with breakfast and I am not about to change that or start demonising juices and smoothies just yet. The problem with these drinks is that during the blending/juicing process, the healthy fibre component is broken down in to simple sugars but unlike Coca-Cola and other sodas, fruit juices and smoothies retain a lot of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C. So am I going to stop using my Nutri Bullet? The answer is no! Instead, my focus for myself and my clients is to continue recommending what I have always suggested if you want to drink juices/smoothies:
1. Control the portion size – fruit juices and smoothies have always been considered as healthy and consequently people often think this is a licence to drink as much as they like. As I’ve said before, healthy food and drink still have calories and therefore can still be fattening if consumed in large quantities. I’d recommend no more than 150mls a day.
2. Reduce the frequency - following on from my point above, you should avoid using fruit juices and smoothies as your main drink with and in between meals. Instead, if you are going to drink juices and smoothies, limit it to one portion a day (perhaps with breakfast as the vitamin C will help you absorb the iron from your breakfast cereals or toast) and the rest of the day drink water.
3. If you are going to drink a glass of fruit juice/smoothie, try and drink it with a meal so your blood sugars do not spike too quickly. I tend to have mine with breakfast and then drink water for the rest of the day
4. Don’t see juices/smoothies as an alternative to eating the whole fruit/vegetable; you must aim to eat at least 4 or 5 portions of the intact whole fruit/vegetable so that you consume the all-important fibre component, which research shows can reduce disease risk, and you are likely to consume less calories - imagine how many oranges you would have to squeeze to get a small glass of juice.
The brown sludge caused by the omega-3 fat boosting chia seeds tastes much better than it looks - trust me!
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