We love smoothies because you get a lot of fruit in one go. But is such a fruit drink as healthy as it seems? Experts explain.By: Isabelle Voois
For starters, not all fruit smoothies are created equal. A smoothie contains as much sugar as what you make it from, warns food scientist Guido Camps. “Most smoothies that consist of 100 percent fruit, therefore, contain as much sugar as the same amount of fruit, because nothing changes in the composition.”
But if you go for a ready-made supermarket smoothie with apple, banana and strawberry, according to sports scientist and sports dietitian Titia van der Stelt, it only contains the sugar from the fruit itself. “But fruit sugar or ‘normal’ sugar is no different for the body: they are both fast forms of carbohydrates. Per 100 milliliters this gives about 12 grams of carbohydrates and about 52 kilocalories.”
“If you take the same ingredients in the same amount for your smoothie, you get about the same calories per 100 grams,” the sports scientist continues. “The amount of fiber from whole fruit is only about 150 percent higher, since there is probably some peeling or sifting during the preparation process. That in turn can influence your feeling of satiety.”
A smoothie provides relatively little satiety. You don’t have to chew, so you pour it right in.
And let that feeling of satiety be an important point. Research shows that satiety is influenced by your mouthfeel and eating speed. This is determined by the structure of the food. “So that smoothie gives relatively little satiety,” says Camps.
“You don’t have to chew, so you pour it right in. A smoothie actually counts as a drink like orange juice. If you were to eat the fruit, you wouldn’t eat two bananas and three oranges so quickly. But So you could drink that with a smoothie.”
“In addition, your body takes action more quickly to produce a lot of insulin if the amount of sugars in the blood suddenly threatens to rise quickly,” adds Van der Stelt. “A lot of insulin leads to a rapid drop in blood sugars, which in turn can cause a feeling of hunger.”
A smoothie contains less fiber
Cutting or peeling a piece of fruit and eating it into wedges (which you have to chew) ensures that your brain receives many more signals that you are busy eating.
“As a result, you become satiated and you take less fruit sugar at a time. With a bowl of pre-cut fruit you also have the chewing process and these advantages, at most you miss the moment of the cutting process,” says Van der Stelt. But such a container is often not very durable and they are often smaller portions. “And usually it’s a lot more expensive, too,” says Camps.
Of course you should not exaggerate, but I sometimes recommend (top) athletes five pieces of fruit or sometimes a smoothie.
The Nutrition Center recommends eating at least two pieces of fruit per day. “Only 10 percent of the Dutch achieve this recommendation, so we can make some profit with that,” says Van der Stelt. “I would wholeheartedly recommend seeing two as a minimum and spreading them out nicely throughout the day as snacks.”
“Of course you should not exaggerate, but I sometimes recommend (top) athletes five pieces of fruit or sometimes a smoothie. So there is no hard ‘max’. In any case, there is nothing wrong with a third piece of fruit when you are hungry. instead of a cake.”