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Fruit juices and smoothies are considered superior to energy drinks in terms of their nutrition content. Recent research has come up with shocking evidence of unacceptably high sugar content in these fruit juices and smoothies that are handed over to children without a concern since they are considered to be healthier.
A recent study was carried out by researchers at University of Liverpool and the University of London led by Dr. Simon Capewell. They analyzed the sugar content per every 100 ml of the fruit juice drinks, 100% natural juices and smoothies that are made especially for children. They took the information listed on the labels of these drinks. They calculated the amount of naturally occurring and added free sugars glucose, fructose, sucrose and table sugar in these drinks.
The Recommended Daily Amount of Sugars for Children
According to the recommendation of the American Heart Association (AHA), the daily allowed limit is 3-4 tea spoons of sugar for children and 5 teaspoons for teens. According to the UK's National Health Service (NHS), the daily allowed dose of sugars is 4 teaspoons in children aged 4-6 years and less than 5 teaspoons for children aged 7-10 years.
Fruit Juices- The Perfect Hiding Place for Sugars
The study found out that smoothie contains up to 13 grams of sugar per every 100ml. the average amount of sugar in the pure drinks was found to be 10.7 grams per 100ml. More than 40% of the drinks were found to have 4 teaspoons of free sugars which is equal to the maximum amount of sugar allowed for children.
The sugar content of the drinks that were assessed by the research team members fell within a range of 0-16 grams/100ml, the average of which was found to be 7grams/100ml. The sugar content of these drinks was considerably high and was found to be even higher in the pure fruit juices and smoothies.
Based on the findings of the study, the researchers put forth some recommendations
- Fruits should be consumed as whole, not as part of a smoothie or fruit drink.
- The fruit juices, drinks and smoothies with a high sugar content should not be categorized as “5 a day”
- Fruit juices should be diluted with water or unsweetened juices should be opted for. These drinks should be allowed only during meals.
- The daily consumption of fruit juices and smoothies should be limited to 150 ml per day, or just over 5 oz.
- If necessary, government intervention should be employed to stop the manufacturers from adding unnecessary sugars to fruit drinks, juices and smoothies.
Whole fruit, as opposed to fruit drinks, is rich in fiber which delays its digestion. This is why whole fruits are more filling than fruit drinks. Making the fruits into a drink takes the fiber out of them.
This research has put a big question mark on the benefits of fruit drinks and smoothies, encouraging the parents to go for whole fruits instead of fruit drinks to derive maximum benefits from them.