The Truth About Fruit Juice and Smoothies

What are the benefits of drinking juice and smoothies?

Fresh juice and smoothies are a great in helping you to meet the five-a-day recommendations, in a quick and convenient way.  Mixed juices and smoothies will also have a variety of different fruits and vegetables in, so you’ll be getting a good range of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other good nutrients which are important for maintaining good health and cutting your risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. 

How much can I drink?

A serving of unsweetened (i.e., no added sugar) fruit or vegetable juice is about 150ml. 150ml is the size of a small wine glass or about 3/4 of a mug. However much you drink, juice counts as of one portion a day. That’s mainly because juice contains less fiber than whole fruits and vegetables. 

Because smoothies contain all the fiber, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they count as more than one portion.  Smoothies can count to two portions per day.

If you have diabetes or are trying to lose weight, limiting fruit juice to 150ml and smoothies to two 150ml portions would be sensible.  You can have more than 150ml of juice or smoothies, but like anything, having too much of something is not necessarily good, so make sure you get the balance right.

Do they contain lots of sugar?

Smoothies and juice contain the natural sugar found in whole fruit.  These sugars are a great source of energy and they are digested slowly and help to sustain energy levels throughout the day.  Including fruit, fruit juice or smoothies as part of a balanced diet will not significantly increase your consumption of sugars. 

Studies have shown that fruit smoothies contain the same amount of natural sugar as the equivalent whole fruit.

‘Added sugar’ is refined and should be limited in what we eat and drink.  This type of sugar, found in sweetened juices, sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks, should only be consumed in very small amounts as “treats” rather than on a regular basis.

Can people with Diabetes have juice and smoothies?

If you have diabetes, the amount of carbohydrate you eat is important to keep your blood sugar level under control.  Carbohydrate comes from starchy foods (e.g., bread, rice, pasta, potatoes) and from sugars. Consuming too much carbohydrate in one go can make your blood sugar level go too high.

All types of fruit, fruit juice and smoothies will contain some natural sugars which will affect your blood sugars.  To make sure your blood sugars don’t go to high, limit fruit juice intake to 150ml per day.  If you are having a smoothie, you can have 150ml up to twice a day. For whole fruit have no more than one to two portions at any one time. The key is to spread fruit, juice, and smoothies throughout the day so that you don’t have too much at any one time.

It is recommended that people with diabetes have plenty of fruit and vegetables as this help to prevent some of the complications of diabetes and are good for general health. 

A dietitian can give you more advice if you have diabetes.

Are they good if I’m trying to lose weight?

If you are trying to lose weight, the key is to eat and drink less calories than you’re burning off through exercise and being active.  Fruit and vegetables are low in fat and calories and are great for filling you up. Cutting down on high calorie foods and drinks and having more fruit and vegetables can really help with weight loss.

Research shows that replacing foods of high energy density (high calories per weight of food) with foods of lower energy density, such as fruits and vegetables including juice and smoothies, can be an important part weight management.

Fruit juice and smoothies will give you essential nutrients, which your body will need during weight loss.  Smoothies are a good source of fiber and this can help keep you feel fuller for longer, helping you to cut down on less healthy snacks.

It is important to remember that there are calories in fruit, juice, and smoothies, so overdoing it will not help.  As a guide, stick to one 150ml portion of fruit juice per day or two 150ml portions of smoothies or vegetable juice.

Are they bad for my teeth?

Acids in food and sugar are known to damage your teeth if you don’t look after them properly.   Fruit juice and smoothies contain fruit acids and fruit sugars, but research shows that the effect on your teeth is no worse than if you ate whole fruit.  Looking after your teeth by brushing regularly and having good dental hygiene will help prevent damage to your teeth whatever you decide to eat or drink.