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Are smoothies and frappés healthy?

You might be surprised by the sugary punch packed by some of these fruit-based drinks.
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01 .Fruit smoothies and frappés

Smoothies and frappes
We looked at more than 90 smoothies and frappés from popular food and drink outlets, and analysed their nutritional content, paying particular attention to the amount of kilojoules per serve.

Fruit and vegetables are generally low-kilojoule foods, rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, making them perfect for a snack between meals. So, given how healthy fruit and veggies are, surely frappés and smoothies made with “fruit” are also healthy snack options?

CHOICE analysed 95 of these from popular outlets such as Boost, Donut King and Wendys, and found that, while they seem good in theory, the inclusion of fruit concentrate and added sugar – along with serving sizes that can be larger than an average plate of food – poses serious health issues for people consuming these drinks as between-meal “snacks”.

Scientific studies, including those recorded in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, show people whose diet is high in fruits, vegetables and legumes have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and type-2 diabetes. On the other hand, diets high in added sugars are associated with obesity and dental health issues, which means the “hidden” sugar in these products isn’t likely to do your health – or waistline – any favours.

Sugar high

When fruit is juiced, the sugars, fluids and flavours are extracted from the fruit fibre, but the kilojoule content remains much the same. In addition to the fruit concentrate that is already high in natural sugars, some drinks also contain added sugar. All up, a large number of kilojoules can be packed into a small amount of liquid. Dietitian Dr Rosemary Stanton says while it is known the body doesn’t recognise feelings of satiety after drinking soft drinks, whether this also applies to juice is not known. However, any excess of kilojoules is a problem and consuming large amounts of fruit sugars without fibre on a regular basis isn’t ideal. “Most people would be unlikely to get through four apples, but could easily manage the equivalent in juice,” she says. Of the 95 drinks we looked at, 81 had sugar levels we would classify as high in sugar (with 7.5g/100mL or above). With a teaspoon of sugars weighing in at about 4g, the use of juice concentrate or added sugars means that when you have one of these drinks, you could be consuming far more sugar than you expect – up to the equivalent of 31 teaspoons in just one regular drink.

A meal in a drink

Another key issue we found was the difference in “regular” or “medium” serving sizes – from 280mL (at Donut King) to 650mL (at New Zealand Natural). Stanton says that in addition to the problem of using fruit sugars without fruit fibre, the “regular” serving sizes at some popular juice bars go far beyond what can be considered as a reasonable snack, except for those who are very physically active. Given a regular flat white coffee provides about 500kJ of energy, consuming up to 2600kJ in one smoothie is simply encouraging people to overeat, she argues. Even the kids’ serving size at Boost (350mL) provides up to 1500kJ. The draft version of the revised Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends limiting food and drinks containing added sugars – particularly sugar-sweetened drinks. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating suggests a single serving of fruit juice shouldn’t be bigger than 125mL, while a serving of yoghurt (a common ingredient in smoothies) is capped at 200g.

Products reviewed

  • Baskin Robbins Mango Yoghurt Smoothie
  • Baskin Robbins Strawberry Banana Yoghurt Smoothie
  • Baskin Robbins Strawberry & Wildberry Yoghurt Smoothie
  • Baskin Robbins Strawberry Yoghurt Smoothie
  • Boost Juice  Super Smoothie Brekkie to Go Strawberry
  • Boost Juice  Super Smoothie Brekkie to Go Mango
  • Boost Juice  Super Smoothie Brekkie to Gogo Original
  • Boost Juice  All Berry Bang Lite
  • Boost Juice  Berry Berry Lite
  • Boost Juice  Crushes Lemon Crush
  • Boost Juice  Crushes Watermelon Crush
  • Boost Juice  Skinny Minnie Melon
  • Boost Juice  Smoothie Mini-Me Mango
  • Donut King Fruit Freeze Mango
  • Donut King Fruit Freeze Strawberry
  • Gloria Jeans  Banana Fruzie Smoothie
  • KFC Krusher Strawberry Smoothie
  • Michel's Patisserie Dairy Free Fruit Smoothie Banana
  • Michel's Patisserie Dairy Free Fruit Smoothie Mango
  • Michel's Patisserie Dairy Free Fruit Smoothie Mixed Berry
  • Michel's Patisserie Smoothie Banana
  • Michel's Patisserie Smoothie Mango
  • Michel's Patisserie Smoothie Mixed Berry
  • Muffin Break Banana Smoothie
  • Muffin Break Blueberry Smoothie
  • Muffin Break Mango Smoothie
  • Muffin Break Raspberry Smoothie
  • Muffin Break Strawberry Smoothie
  • Muffin Break Froot Blast Blueberry Banana
  • Muffin Break Froot Blast Mango Tropic
  • Muffin Break Froot Blast Strawberry
  • New Zealand Natural Berry'lishius Yoghurt Smoothie
  • New Zealand Natural Mango Tango Yoghurt Smoothie
  • New Zealand Natural Tropical Tornado Yoghurt Smoothie
  • Subway Banana Smoothie
  • Subway Mango Smoothie
  • Subway Strawberry Smoothie
  • Wendys Berri Blast Non Dairy Smoothie
  • Wendys Lemon Zest Non Dairy Lite Smoothie
  • Wendys Watermelon Delight Non Dairy Smoothie


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