New research published in BMJ Open confirms what scientists and many healthcare professionals have believed for some time: the sugar content in fruit juices, drinks and smoothies are “unacceptably high.” What’s even more disturbing about the findings is that the article is entitled “How much sugar is hidden in drinks marketed to children?”
Researchers at the University of Liverpool and the University of London analyzed the sugar content per 100ml in over 203 supposedly healthy beverages. All were taken from the seven top supermarket chains in the UK and all were aimed squarely at children. The average sugar content across all types was 7g/1.5 teaspoons and was significantly greater in purer smoothies. Over 40% of the products had 19g of sugars.
For a little perspective, here’s the American Heart Association‘s daily sugar intake recommendations:
- Adult women – 5 teaspoons / 20g
- Adult men – 9 teaspoons / 36g
- Children – 3 teaspoons / 12g
The high quantities of sugar within smoothies and fruit juices undermine their status as a ‘health food.’ Certainly, there are benefits, as they carry vitamins and minerals, but the problem here is the quantity of sugar ingested at the same time. Cracking open of those 19g-sugar-smoothies is like chugging down half a can of Coke.
What’s the solution?
The study recommends that “fruit should be consumed in its whole form, not as juice… In order to help combat the growing problem of childhood obesity, manufacturers need to stop adding unnecessary sugars.”
The AHA states that 1 in 3 children in the USA are obese.
Here is what a ‘healthy’ green smoothie might contain:
- 1 cup spinach, fresh
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¾ cups strawberries
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 banana
This concoction contains 218 calories. Even though it may feel like a ‘green’ smoothie with all those leaves in the blender, only about 6% of the calories come from the spinach. The rest is all fruit, with a total of 32 grams of sugar. 59% of the total calories in this smoothie come from sugar.
You can find more information about the current research on how glucose affects the heart.