Smoothies are a quick and easy way to get some fruit and veg into your diet, and are ideal for those with on-the-go lifestyles. However, smoothies have long been demonised by the media due to their high sugar content, and have been heavily criticised for contributing to health problems. We’ve spoken to Dr Emma Derbyshire, a Public Health Nutritionist, to clear up some of the myths surrounding smoothies.
Dr Derbyshire explained: “In my opinion, [smoothies] provide a portable, convenient source of fruit and are a useful way to top up our fruit and veg intakes. Government nutrition guidelines state that a 150ml smoothie counts as one of our recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day.
“Given that fewer than a third of adults and just 8 per cent of teenagers in the UK meet the 5-a-day target for fruit and vegetables – most manage just two or three portions – a smoothie at breakfast or lunchtime can easily help more people to add an extra fruit portion to their day.”
Contrary to popular belief, and information published by other media sources, smoothies are beneficial to our health. In the past, reports have claimed that smoothies lose their dietary fibre and have a high glycaemic index, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike and has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. New reports from the University of Leeds have dispelled this myth, concluding that the cell wall structures of fruits remain intact when processed, and can still offer beneficial amounts of fibre. For example, strawberry, banana, mango and passionfruit retain a considerable amount of fibre after processing and this has a glycaemic-lowering impact.
But, what about the fibre content?
In some brands of smoothie, the cell structure was similar to chewed fruit, and Dr Emma Derbyshire sheds light on the truth around fibre in smoothies, saying: “Many smoothies provide 2-4g of fibre in a 250ml serving, which is far higher than 100 per cent fruit which contains just 0.5g per 250ml.
“This is important because a lack of fibre is one of the most overlooked dietary gaps in the UK – staggering 9 per cent of us do not get enough. Dietary fibre is important for a range of health reasons extending far beyond digestion. It can regulate blood glucose response, lower cholesterol levels and new evidence shows it could have a positive effect on gut microbiota, too.”
Aren’t smoothies bad for our teeth?
Smoothies have been accused of being bad for our teeth, however, Dr Emma Derbyshire clears up these claims, saying: “Contrary to popular belief, there is no significant different between eating whole and juiced fruit when it comes to the effect on our teeth, according to research carried out at the Leeds Dental Health Institute.
“Specifically, the research looked at ‘demineralising’ of the enamel and effects of sugars when comparing whole or juiced apples, oranges, grapes, carrots and tomatoes. Dental experts believe that any fruit or drinks that contain sugars or acids – including fruit- could damage your teeth if you don’t look after them properly.”
Next time you buy a smoothie with your lunch or make one at home, you can enjoy it knowing that the claims set out by the media aren’t necessarily true. Check out some recipes for homemade smoothies here.