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Until recently, smoothies and juices were hailed as the perfect way to get a healthy and nutritional boost from fruit and vegetables. However, whilst there is still no denying that smoothies and juices do have their place as part of your weekly diet, there is some controversy surrounding their genuine health giving properties. That is why at The QHotels Collections Health Clubs we felt it was a good opportunity to investigate further and report our findings on whether smoothies and juices are friend or foe.

Smoothies and juices came to the UK from America a number of years ago. Ad campaigns, movies and media are all responsible for putting juices and smoothies on a health food pedestal. Yes, if you are not a fan of eating fruit and vegetables, then juicing or whizzing up a smoothie is undoubtedly better than not eating fruit and vegetables at all. However, there is a little cause for concern surrounding excessive consumption of smoothies and juices.

One of the main benefits of consuming smoothies and juices is that it is an easy way to achieve your 5-a-day recommended portions of fruit and vegetables. And with recent reports suggesting that we should all now be aiming for 7 portions of fruits and vegetables daily, smoothies and juices continue to offer an excellent way in which to help achieve that goal.

A well-balanced and varied diet containing an assortment of fruits and vegetables will provide your body with a number of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. However, often in the juicing or smoothie making process, these essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients are broken down and lost.

Furthermore, you will unfortunately not get that all-important dietary fibre from juices and smoothies. Juicing machines leave behind all the pulp (which is dietary fibre), and smoothies mash it and break it down beyond recognition. Your body needs a diet rich in important dietary fibre so that it can maintain a healthy digestive system and also regulate blood sugar levels.

Smoothies and juices concentrate the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. Whilst some natural sugar is quite good for us, it does have to be consumed in moderation – and it is worth remembering that refined sugars (so those found in cakes, biscuits, sauces, desserts, ice cream etc) are really very bad for us. As you will no doubt have seen, there are regular reports in the press stating that we are all eating too much sugar. A diet high in sugar can lead to all sorts of unpleasant health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, as well as being attributed to certain cancers, stroke and heart disease. Plus, dentists do not recommend juices and smoothies as the sugars found in fruits and vegetables can contribute to tooth decay when left in contact with your teeth for too long.

Smoothies and juices can actually be quite high in calories. Whilst making your own ‘pure’ smoothie or juice from nothing but natural fruits and vegetables can be relatively low in calories, adding extras such as yoghurt, honey, peanut butter, cows’ milk, coconut, almond or soya milk, and seeds such as flaxseed all of a sudden makes the calorie content rocket.

So, what is the conclusion? Are smoothies and juices friend or foe? Well, like anything in life moderation is key and a little of what you fancy does you the world of good. There is no substitute for a healthy, well-balanced and nutritious diet which contains plenty of natural ‘whole’ fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates, pulses and lentils, and lean proteins. An occasional juice or smoothie won’t do you any harm and it is a good way to boost your fruit and vegetable intake. However, don’t rely on smoothies and juices as an alternative to eating properly. Remember, in order to stay healthy, fit and well you should eat three balanced meals a day with some nutritious snacks in between.