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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:35 GMT
Warning over fruit juice 'excess'
Fruit juice and salad
Unsweetened fruit juice is best, say experts
Fruit juices and smoothies may seem to be a healthy choice, but dieticians are warning people not to drink too many.

Figures published this week showed Britain now consumes 2.2 billion litres of juice drinks a year - around 36 litres for every man, woman and child.

But experts from the British Dietetic Association said people should eat a range of fruit and vegetables too.

And they said some drinks, particularly dairy-based smoothies, were high in calories.

It's fine to have it as one of your portions, but it can't count as all five - no matter how much you drink
Dr Frankie Phillips, British Dietetic Association

The examination of the fruit juice market by research company Mintel looked at pure fruit juice - both fresh or from a concentrate - and drinks that contain a percentage of juice.

It found orange and apple juice still account for more than 70% of the market in terms of volume but demands are changing.

The market for exotic juices, such as kiwi, passion fruit and berries grew by 133%.

But grapefruit juice dropped 23% and tomato juice by 60% over the past two years.

Mintel predict sales of both fruit juice and juice drinks will continue to rise and expect the figure to reach almost 3 billion by 2009.

James McCoy, senior market analyst at Mintel, said: "Trends towards healthier eating as well as an increasing interest in more natural, organic products, are key reasons for the phenomenal growth we have seen in this market."

'Moderation the key'

But experts from the British Dietetic Association issued a note of caution.

The BDA's Ursula Arens said: "Small quantities of fruit juice are a helpful way to get more vitamins, but the British diet is not particularly low in vitamin C.

"If you look at a typical serving size, you are getting a lot of calories very quickly. As being overweight is more of a public health problem than a shortage of vitamin C, people need to view these drinks with caution."

And Dr Frankie Phillips, also of the BDA, added: "It's the same as for any food - moderation is the key.

"With fruit juice, unsweetened juices such as orange or apple are fine and will count towards having five portions of fruit and vegetable a day."

Dr Phillips said fruit juices only count as one portion a day, no matter how much someone drank, because the aim was to encourage people to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables to get a range of nutrients.

"It's fine to have it as one of your portions, but it can't count as all five - no matter how much you drink."

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