The Juice Controversy: Good or Bad for Kids?
I have heard different messages about juicing: "Are juices good or bad for my children?"
There are different types of varieties of juices and they are not all composed in the same way or contain the same macronutrients, calories, ingredients and sugar. Unfortunately, many juices contain large amounts of added sugar and calories, and not all of them are 100% natural. Also the popular servings and packaging you find in supermarkets today are not equivalent to one serving of fruit (4-6oz). These packages exceed the recommended amount as they come in servings of 16-20oz of juice per package. Which means that each packet contains between 240-300 calories and more than 50g of sugar or 12 teaspoons of sugar.
Water is the preferred form of hydration for children. With the worldwide obesity epidemic, water hydrates children without adding calories. According to the World Health Organization, more than 42 million children under the age of 5 are overweight worldwide. So it is important to prevent obesity and diabetes risk since today the prevalence of obesity in children is alarming.
If you're using juice as a fruit replacement, think twice. The most important nutrient that juice lacks is fiber. The juice lacks many vitamins and antioxidants, and in particular fiber, since this nutrient is found in the whole fruit. Fiber not only aids digestion, but can help lower cholesterol levels and helps slower digestion of sugar in the blood.
For example: How many whole oranges are used to make a 4oz glass of juice? About 2-3 oranges. Do you think your little one could eat 3 oranges in the morning? Most likely NOT because I was full after the first orange because of the volume and fiber it offers. Here's the point: natural fruit is an excellent source of fiber!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
- From 0-6 months: No juice unless you give him some prune juice to help with constipation.
- 6 months to 6 years: 4-6 oz/day
- 7 years and older: 8-12oz day
- Juices can be part of a balanced and nutritious diet in the life of your little one ALWAYS AND WHEN you regulate the amount and choose the right juice
- Choose juices that say “100% fruit juice” or “100% natural juice” as they contain more vitamins and less additives and sugar compared to other juices or juice concentrates. But remember that even 100% fruit juice contains calories!
- If you are going to choose juice, limit it to no more than 4-6oz a day for children 6 months to 6 years old and 8-12oz for children 7 and up.
- If your little one is not that much of a fan of water, you can add a splash of juice or a bit of lemon or other natural herbs like mint or ginger to add flavor.
- Make sure you always give the juice at a meal or snack and not during meals because it can affect your appetite plus it gives you empty calories.
- Water, water, water above all!!