5 reasons why smoothies are not a shortcut to a healthy diet

Smoothies have a reputation as a bit of a wonder drink – one which isn’t always founded on facts, as we explain. 

1. However much you drink, it won’t count as more than one of your 5-a-day.

A row of fruit smoothies 

According to new national recommendations, smoothies can count as no more than one of your 5-a-day – even if you’ve put 5 different fruit and veg in them. And if you have a glass of juice on the same day, you can’t count them both. 

2. Having a massive smoothie for breakfast doesn’t mean you can  just eat chips and cake for the rest of the day.

Cupcakes 

Healthy choices at one point in the day don’t cancel out the effects of salt, sugar and saturated fats in less healthy choices you have at other times – the idea is that they replace these foods or leave less room in the diet for them. Including fruit and veg in our diets throughout the day means there is more chance of that happening.

3. Smoothies are high in sugar.

Green smoothie in a jar with apple, pineapple, lettuce and cucumber

If you blend fruit, the natural sugars are released from within the cell walls of the fruit and become “free sugars”. Free sugars include any added sugars (including honey and maple syrup) and are the kind we should all be cutting down on to protect our teeth as well as lower our energy intake to help maintain a healthy weight. Even if they have some added vegetables like spinach or kale, they are still likely to be high in sugar. 

4. You can quickly have too much of a good thing.  

Watermelon smoothie in two small glasses 

According to the national Eatwell Guide, a serving of smoothie (or juice) is 150ml. That’s the same as a “mini” can of cola and less than half the size of a standard can of soft drink. It’s smaller than the little smoothie bottles you can buy and almost certainly a lot smaller than one you’d buy in a café. Remember, sharing is caring so split your smoothie with a friend or keep some for the next day if you are at home. 

5. Drinking smoothies doesn’t mean you have a healthy, balanced diet.

Bananas on weighing scales 

We all need to eat more fruit and veg, and a 150ml portion of smoothie is one way to help you towards that, but it’s not the only thing to think about when it comes to eating well. We also need to eat high fibre and wholegrain carbohydrates, as well as some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, lean meat  and other protein foods, as well as low fat dairy products and small amounts of healthier, unsaturated fats. To go with your breakfast smoothie, what about a poached egg on wholegrain toast, or ring the changes with a bowl of porridge topped with berries? 

Eatwell Guide 2016 Eatwell guide

As a guide, just over a third of our diet should be fruits and vegetables, a third starchy carbohydrates (preferably high fibre or wholegrain versions) and as well as some lean protein-rich foods (meat, fish, beans, lentils) and reduced-fat dairy products, and small amounts of unsaturated fats.

The Eatwell guide is a tool to help you plan a balanced diet. It has been updated in 2016 - read more about the latest version.

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