IT is a trend driven by celebrities and the perceived health benefits of making drinks with entirely natural ingredients. But “juicing” could actually be bad for you, experts have warned because a smoothie can contain the same amount of sugar as four to six oranges or a large cola.
Juicing, which is different to blending or pulping, extracts the water and nutrients from a fruit or vegetable while discarding the tough fibre which aids the digestive system.
Barry Popkin, a professor at the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, and Dr George Bray, an American physician, said people were deceiving themselves about their sugar intake by swapping fizzy drinks for juices and smoothies.
For example, one smoothie from Innocent — “pomegranates, blueberries and acai superfood”— contains 34.3g of sugar in a 250ml bottle, while a 500ml bottle of squeezed orange juice sold at Pret a Manger contains 51g of sugar. This compares with 39g of sugar in a 330ml can of Coke.
Prof Popkin said: “Think of eating one orange or two and getting filled. Now think of drinking a smoothie with six oranges and two hours later it does not affect how much you eat.
“We feel full from drinking beverages like smoothies but it does not affect our overall food intake, whereas eating an orange does. So pulped-up smoothies do nothing good for us but do give us the same amount of sugar as four to six oranges or a large coke. It is deceiving.”
Lakeland, the kitchenware retailer, reported last week that sales of juicers had shot up by 4,000 per cent in a week following a Channel 5 documentary in which a man lost six stone by going on a juice-only diet. John Lewis reported that sales had risen by 2,600 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Will Jones, a buyer of small electricals at John Lewis, said: “Juicing is a huge trend for us this year in response to high levels of customer demand for juicers.
Customers have been looking for healthy alternatives to help them stay refreshed in the heat and juicing ticks those boxes.”
Professor Popkin and Prof Bray warned almost 10 years ago that high-fructose corn syrup used to sweeten soft drinks was linked to obesity. Their research was said in part to have led Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to diversify into fruit juices.
In research published as an update, they warn that “smoothies and fruit juice are the new danger”. “To the best of our knowledge every added amount of fructose – be it from fruit juice, sugar-sweetened beverages or any other beverage, or even from foods with high sugar content – adds equally to our health concerns linked with this food component,” they say.