Sunday, 1 March 2009

Innocent until proven...?

I don't know about you but from time to time, as a healthy treat, I can sometimes be seen enjoying a small bottle of Innocent smoothie (usually the mango and passion fruit variety... yum!). Taste aside (though it is very good), I like Innocent. They're cute and friendly and their packaging is witty - you'll find, if you up end their small plastic bottles, that there's a message embossed into the plastic, the funniest I've seen has been "Don't stare at my bottom"! Smoothies are undoubtedly 'hip' and healthy, especially as they're advertised as one of your essential 'Five A Day'.
While watching The F-Word, I watched Janet Street-Porter (who isn't my favourite person, I must admit) take a closer look at smoothie products. Many sources brand smoothies as an all-round good food stuff - a great way to start your day, supplement your usual meals with an extra shot of nutrition, an easy on-the-go snack or smuggle more fruit into childrens diet. They are all fruit, after all, aren't they? So they can't be bad... Janet S-P found that many smoothie products (not just Innocent branded, I must add) have a surprisingly high sugar content - sometimes comparible with some soft drinks. "Ah but these are natural sugars!" I hear you cry and yes they are but they are sugar, none the less. Although smoothies do contribute to your 'Five a day' fruit and vegetable quota but one expert that was interviewed claimed that you would be better off eating the fruit itself as it is actually absorbed slower. When you drink a smoothie, the liquid is easily absorbed from the stomach and into the blood stream which can create a peak in blood sugar levels and then, quite quickly, a trough again as the body processes it easily. When I thought about my favourite Innocent 'Mangoes and Passion Fruits', each small bottle contains (according to the maker): 2 and 1/2 apples, 1/2 a crushed mango, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 a squeezed orange, 1/2 a crushed passionfruit and a squeeze of lime. If I ate that in one sitting, I'd struggle and I'd be stuffed but I can happily enjoy one of those in a flash. I'm not saying Innocent or any other company are doing a bad job but what I will say is, be careful with your smoothie in-take. They're yummy and easy but they're also high in sugar so take care.
I got talking to my housemates after seeing the programme and it prompted a really interesting conversation about sugar content in foods and drinks. We were all struggling to understand how our recommended daily allowance of sugars and fat actually affect our own diets.

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