Your Juicing, Sugar and Diabetes Questions Answered

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 13 May, 2017

I've started juicing fruit and veg. Is the calorie content much the same for ingredients? Juiced apple the same as a whole apple?

This really depends on the type of juicer you are using and whether some of the fruit is cast aside or not.

If you are blending up a whole fruit and including all of this in a smoothie style drink, then yes, the calories will be the same as none of the fruit is lost. But if you are using a traditional juicer, that squeezes the juice from fruits but loses the pulp, then the calories would be lower.

It's hard to estimate the loss in this case though, so we would always recommend just adding the whole fruit. It's better to overestimate a little than underestimate.

Hope this helps!

I have been drinking a green juice daily as part of my diet (33 to 38% sugar). As a result, my sugar intake always go up to 150%. Is this bad? Should I cut back? In addition to the green juice, I normally consume approximately 5 a day on a normal day, mostly by eating raw vegetables, but not much of the green type (hence the juicing). I have not been eating fruit because the sugar intake will go even higher. Some advice please?

Having one juice a day is not a problem at all – just aim for around a 150ml serving. These drinks are a good way of getting lots of vitamins into our diet. They do contain a lot of sugar and this is more accessible than whole fruits and vegetables, as the fruit has been broken down and the sugars released – but they still bring with them the benefit of lots of vitamins too.

When it comes to sugar, the important thing is where it's coming from. If you're eating lots of fruits, vegetables and milk products, then it's likely you'll go over the allowance a little – but that's nothing to be concerned about. However if most of your sugar is coming from added sources such as cakes, biscuits, sweets, desserts and sauces for example, then you should try to reduce these in your diet.

So even if you are reaching 150% of your sugar allowance, if this is mostly from natural sources, then it's absolutely fine.

Hope this helps!

I'm really struggling with keeping my sugar totals down, despite trying to pick healthier choices including fruit/skimmed milk etc. I'm already trying to avoid obvious chocolate, biscuits etc but is sugar in absolutely everything? And how do I stick to my total without avoiding fruit altogether?

Please don't be concerned about the sugar in things like fruit, vegetables and milk products – this isn't the type of sugar we're concerned with.

Sugar is a tricky nutrient to track because there is no way to distinguish between added sugars and those naturally occurring in things like fruit and milk. This is because current UK labelling laws don't require manufacturers to split out these types of sugars in the nutrition panel. But eating sugars from natural sources is not the same as eating lots of added sugars.

At present, the official guideline for sugar intake is only for added sugars – to reduce these from 10% of our total energy, to 5%.

In a perfect world, food packaging should show how much sugar is from natural sources and how much has been added to the product, but unfortunately it doesn't, and the recommended intake on UK food labels is still set for total sugars. The amount is 90g per day based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet – which equates to 18% of daily energy coming from sugar. This is the figure we use for our Well Balanced nutrient guide.

However – I would just highlight that this 90g figure is based on 2,000 calories a day and as you are on a reduced calorie intake, it does make the sugar target more challenging – as 18% of 1,400 calories is 63g total sugar per day. For this reason, it can be quite easy to find you go over your sugar target each day if you're eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

The important thing is not how much sugar you're eating in total, but where your sugar is coming from. Look through your diary to see which foods are contributing most sugar. If it is mostly coming from fresh fruits, vegetables or milk products, there is no need to be concerned – even if you are exceeding your target a little. This is because natural sugar sources also contribute lots of beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, fibre and calcium. These can also alter the way the food is broken down in the body and therefore the effect the sugars have on your body, so going over is not a big issue in terms of your health and weight loss.

Hope this helps to reassure you!

You explained that if we consume a lot of natural sugars in fruit to not be so worried about the sugars bar. Why not have separate bars for natural and processed sugars? Thanks

We'd like it if we could, but unfortunately UK labelling laws don't require manufacturers to split out these types of sugars in the nutrition panel. So we don't have any way of knowing how much of the sugar is natural and how much is added.

So for now the best we can do is advise you not to be concerned with how much sugar you are getting from whole fruits, vegetables and milk products – but to look out for those coming from added sources. These can be the more obvious foods such as biscuits, sweets and chocolate – but also more hidden sugars in things like sauces, ready meals and some cereals for example.

Hope this helps!

Pre diabetes,how much fruit is OK to eat?

Having an overall healthy and balanced diet is really important for us all, and particularly if you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. This means choosing a good balance of different foods in your diet including:-

  • wholegrain carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice or wholegrain breakfast cereals
  • lean proteins e.g. poultry, lean red meat, eggs, fish, low fat dairy foods
  • plenty of fruit and vegetables

Cutting back on foods that are high in fat and sugar is also important e.g. cakes, biscuits, fried foods.

Although sugar is an important consideration for someone with diabetes or pre-diabetes, eating fruit brings a whole host of benefits such as fibre, vitamins and minerals, so you don't need to worry about cutting it out altogether. Aim to have at least 5 portions of fruit and veg every day, and opt for vegetable choices when you can. If you can opt for 3 portions of veg and 2 of fruit, this would be a good balance.

Whole fruits are also less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, as the sugar is released more slowly into the bloodstream. So stick with whole fruits in your diet rather than juices or smoothies where possible.

Hope this helps!

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.