4 Ways You’re Ruining Your Children’s Health With Fruit Juice

August 30, 2013


So you’ve decided to strike a blow for good health by ditching fizzy soda drinks and giving your kids 100 percent fruit juice.

Good for you! But don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. Fruit juice may not be as healthy as you think.

Pediatrician Amy Beck, who recently published an article in the research journal Academic Pediatrics, sees decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among kids as “a promising public health trend.”

Juice has a lot going for it. But to many parents’ surprise, a reduction in sugar intake is not among them.

An eight-ounce glass of apple juice contains 27 grams of sugar – the same as eight ounces of Coca-Cola. This is one of the reasons Beck suggests that parents limit consumption of fruit juice and replace soda with water or milk.

How much fruit juice is OK? The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association offer these guidelines, based on the age of the child:

  • Birth to six months: no fruit juice (except for relief of constipation)
  • Six months to six years: 4 to 6 ounces per day
  • Seven years and older: 8 to 12 ounces per day – no more

Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky says that while too much sugary fruit juice could make your kids pudgy, that’s not the worst of it.

The high sugar content of unsweetened pure fruit juice is sufficient to damage teeth.

She says if your child is drinking excessive fruit juice (especially acidic juices like lime, cranberry, or orange), the acid can wear down the enamel that protects and strengthens teeth.

This can lead to cavities, sensitive teeth, and eventual tooth loss.

Keep your kids’ teeth healthy by diluting fruit juice with water, letting them drink it through a straw, and making sure they brush their teeth afterwards. If you’re giving your toddler juice, serve it in a cup, not a bottle.

Zeratsky says parents should ditch sweetened juice or fruit-juice cocktails. Discourage kids from sipping fruit juice throughout the day. Give them a glass to accompany a snack or meal instead.

Kids can still enjoy fruit juice without piling on the pounds or spoiling their toothy grins. Let them make their own milkshakes and smoothies. Blend milk or yogurt with soft fruit (mango, berries, bananas, and so on). Make a “cocktail” with diluted fruit juice, water, and crushed ice

(If you want to spoil your kids, use calorie-free sparkling water or seltzer to make the drinks a little fancier.) Kids can even freeze pieces of crushed fruit in ice-cube trays and add them to milk for a fun, nutritious drink.

Finally, make sure your child eats plenty of whole fresh fruit – there’s no substitute. Even the best unsweetened fruit juice lacks the fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins found in whole fruit.

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