Apple juice as sugary as Coca-Cola, experts warn

Apple juice has as much sugar as soft drinks, and health experts are warning consumers to limit consumption or risk gaining weight.

Often selected as the healthier option over soft drinks or energy drinks, apple juice is no more than a ''sugar syrup'', nutritionists say.

''It's just like drinking Cola-Cola, it's no different,'' Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Kellie Bilinski said.

''That's the misconception that people think, 'oh it's good for me'. I would much prefer people drank water and ate the fruit.''

Fairfax Media found a bottle of Coles' Finest Australian cloudy apple juice contains more kilojoules and carbohydrates than a bottle of Coca-Cola, based on an average of 100ml. The Daily Juice Company apple juice contained more kilojoules than a soft drink, but slightly less carbohydrates and sugar.

The Goulburn Valley lemon fruit juice contained the least amount of sugar and carbohydrates, compared with Daily Juice five fruits and apple juice and the Coca-Cola bottle.

Apple juice is thought to be one of the sweetest juices, and because it is comparatively cheap, it is used as a base by juice bars.

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said when you removed the fibre from the apple juice, it became little more than sugar syrup.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recognise fruit juice as a serve of fruit, but limit it to 125ml, when the average bottle is 400ml.

Dr Stanton said consumers were eating up to five large apples within one bottle of juice, which exposed them to far too much sugar.

''You could never take in that much sugar naturally,'' she said. ''You need to look for juices that are made from squashed fruit, and they have a high fibre content.

''It's better than Coke, but not much.''

National director of cardiovascular health at the Heart Foundation, Dr Rob Grenfell, agreed that fruit juices should be considered as ''special treats'' rather than daily routines.

''We tend to look at sweetened drinks as energy, that in the sense of soft drink and fruit drinks, are largely unnecessary and you need to burn them off.''

In a report by Choice, it found fruit frappes and smoothies, such as the ones sold at Boost Juice and Donut King, also contained high levels of sugar. ''Consumers should remember that fruit juice contains sugar, so the bigger the bottle, the bigger the sugary punch,'' Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

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