'Healthy fruit smoothies more sugary than cola'

Last updated at 11:39 30 December 2006

Bursting with fruit, smoothies are the drink of choice for many health-conscious Britons. However, many of the colourful drinks are actually more sugary than Coca-Cola.

Experts also warn that smoothies can be low in vitamins and fibre - and say we may be better off eating actual pieces of fruit instead.

Among the worst offenders is Marks & Spencer's own-brand banana smoothie.

Billed as being 'good & yummy,' the high concentration of fruit means a small bottle contains more than seven teaspoons of sugar.

This makes it more sugary than Coke, which despite being much maligned for its lack of nutritional value, contains 10.6g of sugar per 100ml, or just over five teaspoons per 250ml serving.

Also loaded with sugar are Waitrose's blackcurrant yoghurt probiotic smoothies, which contain 14.2g of sugar per 100ml, and the chain's mixed berry fruit smoothies, which have 11.8g of sugar per 100ml.

Tesco's banana smoothie and the mango, pineapple and banana smoothie from its Finest range, are both also more sugary than Coke.

Brand names are also high in sugar, with many Innocent smoothies containing more than 11g sugar per 100ml - or a staggering 22 teaspoons per litre carton.

Britain's biggest-selling smoothie maker, Innocent tells its customers 'We promise that anything Innocent will always taste good and do you good.'

Diet experts say that the large quantity of fruit needed to create even a small smoothie means they contain a lot of sugar from the fruit itself. Some also contain other sugar, added to improve the flavour.

And they warn that peeling and blending fruit reduces both its fibre and vitamin C content - and releases sugars usually locked inside the fruit.

They say that while the drinks can boost an individual's daily intake of fruit and vegetables, the sugar can damage teeth - and puts those who think they have gone for a healthy option at risk of quickly taking in a lot of calories.

Dr Frankie Phillips, a dietician with the British Dietetic Association, said: 'Smoothies are a more concentrated source of calories than the fruit in its natural form and because of that, they are also a more concentrated sugar source.

'Fruit juice is also quite acidic if you sip at a smoothie over an hour or so, you could cause your teeth some damage.'

Others go as far as to advise eating pieces of fruit rather than smoothies.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, nutritionist with Slimming World, said 'For weight loss, we recommend eating the whole fruit because it is a lot more satisfying for the appetite.'

She added, that despite the high sugar content, smoothies are still more nutritious than soft drinks.

The manufacturers stress that the natural sugar found in fruit is healthier than sweeteners found in carbonated drinks and is broken down slowly by the body, ensuring energy levels are kept stable.

A spokesman for Innocent said a 250ml bottle of one of its smoothies contains the same amount of sugar as a large banana.

He added: 'Innocent smoothies contain nothing but whole crushed fruit and juice - they do not contain any added sugar.

'Britons need to consume more fruit and veg and a smoothie is one way of getting more fruit into your diet.'

Waitrose said that most of the sugar in its smoothies comes naturally from the fruit. Any that is added is used sparingly to improve flavour.

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