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High amounts of sugar hidden in healthy beverages

Loaded with real fruit and juice, fruit smoothies are commonly touted as a healthy alternative to soft drinks.

Except new research by consumer group Choice reveals that some store-bought ‘healthy’ beverages such as fruit smoothies, frappes and frozen-yoghurt drinks, can contain up to 31 teaspoons of sugar.

That’s more than the amount of sugar found in a large 650ml bottle of Coca Cola.

After analysing 95 drinks from a range of popular outlets such as Boost Juice, Donut King, Wendys, Gloria Jean's and New Zealand Natural, the research group found that 85 per cent served ‘healthy’ drinks that were high in sugar.

Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just said: "Smoothies might have a healthy image, but some are packed with hidden sugars."

Drinks which contain ingredients such as high-fructose syrup, fruit juice concentrates and artificial flavours and colours are often higher in sugar than actual fresh fruit, she said.

"This makes smoothies more like a sugary meal than a snack."

At the top end of the scale, the review discovered that Baskin and Robbins yoghurt smoothies contained between 29 and 31 teaspoons of sugar.

It also found that Boost Juice's super smoothies, while made with real juice, are high in energy and close to 2000 kilojoules per regular serve, which is roughly the same number of kilojoules as a main meal.

The Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing advises the average daily kilojoule intake for men aged 19 to 30 years, is between 9000 and 16,900 and for women, between 7,100 and 13,900 for the same age group.

The consumer study also highlighted an inconsistency between stores’ serving size.

At Donut King a regular size drink is 280mL, while at New Zealand Natural a regular is 650mL.

The consumer group advises considering all of the ingredients in a drink and serving size prior to purchase.

"If you are an active person and you want a quick pick-me-up, some outlets have better options with smaller sizes, fewer kilojoules or less added sugar," Ms Just said in a statement.

Better yet: try making your own healthy smoothies at home.

That way, you know exactly what you’re consuming.

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