Fruit juice 'has too much sugar for it to be a five-a-day'
Fruit juice should not be counted as one of your five-a-day because it contains too much sugar – but dried fruit should, two new studies suggest.
Most health guidelines encourage people to consume drinks such as orange and apple juice in order to have a healthy balanced diet yet ignore dried fruits.
But the findings of two teams of British researchers turns that advice on its head – concluding that fruit juices should be avoided and dried fruit consumption encouraged.
The first study found that even freshly squeezed fruit juices can contain as much as five teaspoons of sugar per glass because the squeezing process concentrates their sweetness.
This is around two-thirds of the amount found in a can of soda and can contribute to obesity and also disturb blood sugar levels and the body's natural metabolism, the study found.
Researchers said that the juices should be taken off the five-a-day recommendations so that people are encouraged to eat whole fruits and vegetables instead which have far more nutrients per calorie.
Dr Hans-Peter Kubis, Bangor University in North Wales, said that the fruit juices could encourage a "sweet tooth".
"I'd question the wisdom of including fruit juice in the five-a-day message.," he said.
"The problem is people often substitute them for real fruit which is a mistake. Fruit juice is higher in sugars than people realise and they are likely to encourage drinking too much sugar."
He suggested that one part of fruit juice should be diluted with four parts of water in order to make them more healthy.
In the second study, partly conducted by the University of Leeds, researchers found that dried fruits contain just as many antioxidants, polyphenols and nutrients as normal fruit.
It found that dried fruits can help combat cancer, metabolic disease and heart problems
They are also a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
The researchers have called for advice to encourage people to eat more of the dried fruit and for them to be included in the five-a-day messages.
Professor Gary Williamson said that dried fruits were often overlooked because people assumed they were too tasty to be good for you.
"We are not saying you should get all five of your five-a-day from dried fruit but you could definitely get at least one.
"Some fruits including dried fruits contain high levels of a variety of polyphenols and we are just starting to understand their health protective effect."
Professor Daniel Gallaher, of the University of Minnesota who was also involved, said: "Dried fruits are great sources of total and soluble fibre in the diet."
The research was presented at the World Nut & Dried Fruit Congress.