You should be eating five fruits a day, or is it seven? Faced with the problem of combining a busy schedule with a good diet, many people turn to smoothies for their daily fruit intake. But are smoothies healthy? We investigated…

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Fruit smoothies are promoted as a simple way to boost your fruit and veggie intake. So you whizz up an orange, apple and banana, add a few nuts and yoghurt, a splash of juice and a healthy glug of honey. Or you grab a readymade one on the way to work. You are set for the day. Or are you?

So, smoothies: healthy or not?

Research has revealed that smoothies aren’t all we believe them to be. Fruits provide fibre, but by removing the skin and pulping the remains most of the fruity goodness is lost. Smoothies also contain large amounts of fructose (a survey published in 2013 indicated that 41 of 52 commercial smoothies contained more sugar than Coca-Cola and had more kilojoules, reports doctor and medical reporter Michael Mosley). The truth? Smoothies can actually drain energy and cause weight gain. Dentists aren’t crazy about smoothies either, because they are acidic and the bits cling to your teeth.

individual smoothie ingredients

Individually, the contents of this smoothie may be healthy and nutritious, but blitz them together with fruit juice and honey and they can be a nutritional, sugar-packed disaster zone.

In a second 2013 study, Fruit Consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes, published in the British Medical Journal, researchers discovered that you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes by drinking instead of eating your fruit.
The subjects who ate fruit were two percent less likely to develop diabetes; those who drank more than three glasses of fruit juice a week increased their risk by eight percent. So, fruit juice-based smoothies don’t pass the healthy test.

In yet another study, conducted by the Western Australia Institute of Medical Research Epidemiology, it was shown that fruit juice drinkers were also at increased risk of bowel cancer. Although eating more fruit and vegetables helps reduce the risk of colon cancer, fruit juice’s high sugar content actually increases the risk of certain cancers. The researchers explained that after processing and packaging, ingredients in fruit juice that protect against tumours, such as fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants, are lost. But vegetables such as broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, apples and dark yellow vegetables helped battle colon cancers. Read more information about the Australian study at

But smoothies are not all bad news

On the whole, store-bought smoothies are virtually always high-sugar nutritional disasters, says natural medicine healthcare practitioner Dr Joseph Mercola in the US. But it is possible to make a healthy smoothie at home, provided you go easy on the fruit. You can add an apple, a banana, some berries or a kiwi fruit for a bit of sweetness, but the bulk of your smoothie should be made of organic green veggies such as spinach, celery, curly kale, cucumber, lettuces or avocado pear (just one-quarter or a half). It appears that many people avoid green veggie juices because they don’t like the colour, but they can taste good – simply add a few power-punching ingredients to suit your taste buds: lime and lemon (skin optional), cranberries and, of course, ginger for a punchy, healthful kick. If you need to thin your smoothie, use coconut water instead of sugary fruit juice. Coconut water is rich in potassium and electrolytes. Are smoothies healthy or not? In this case, yes.


Acknowledgements & Photo credits

  1. Photo of smoothie courtesy of Apolonia /
  2. Photo of individual smoothie ingredients by Sigurdas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons