Fruit Juices vs. Fruit Beverages
Kids love the taste of pure fruit juice, and parents love it because it’s a healthy source of nutrients. When choosing healthy pure juice for your children, it’s important to note what kind of juice you are serving and how much you are offering. Here’s what families should know about fruit juice versus other fruit-flavored beverages:
Choose the Right Fruit Juice
All juices are not created equal – some are nutritional gems while others are sugar water. Consider these tips as you make juice part of your child’s diet:
Be label savvy and buy juice labeled “100% fruit juice.”
- Beware of words like “drink,” “punch,” “cocktail,” “beverage” and “ade.” These are not 100% juice – they’re junk fruit beverages.
- Many junk fruit beverages are nutrient-void beverages, commonly masked as fruit “juice,” “drinks” or “cocktails.” Most contain 10% or less of pure fruit juice, and lots of water, sugar and additives. Junk fruit beverages have little or no nutritional value.
- Avoid junk fruit beverages that are disguised as juice “blends” that contain small amounts of various fruits like grape, apple and pear. Ounce for ounce, these juices don’t have the natural levels of vital nutrients that 100 percent pure juices like orange juice provide. Plus, they usually contain added sugars.
Examine the ingredients and avoid fruit-flavored beverages that have added fructose corn syrup. They shape a child’s taste toward sweet cravings.
Look at the juice, if you can see through it, you’re buying mostly water. Generally, the cloudier the juice, the more nutritious it is. Picture a tall glass of 100% pure orange juice with pulp. There should be some sediment at the bottom, which is a reminder of the juice’s origins.
Consider juice variety instead of choosing one type of juice. Another beneficial juice in addition to orange juice is nectar juice. Nectar usually has more calories, but more nutrients are preserved during processing nectar than other juices. Apricot nectar is especially healthy, containing a lot of beta-carotene, almost a gram of protein per 8-ounce glass, and it’s higher than most juices in vitamin A, vitamin B-6 and iron. Other nutritious nectars come from the “P” fruits – peaches, pears and prunes.
How Much You Drink Counts
Juice can be a tasty alternative to water, but consuming too much juice may take the place of other nutritious foods the child would normally eat. The following explains how much juice is appropriate for a child up to 18 years of age:
- 1-6 years old: 4-6 ounces per day
- 7-18 years old: 8-10 ounces per day
Juices should only make up a very small amount of overall daily fruit and vegetable intake. We always encourage “the real thing” – whole fruits and vegetables as much as possible!
Juice Consumption 101
- Offer 100% juice at mealtimes or as snacks as an alternative to soda or junk juices. Serve orange juice at breakfast and pack a carton in your child’s lunch box for lunch or as a daytime snack.
- If a child usually consumes more than the daily recommended amount of juice, then dilute the juice with water. The water has the sweet taste of juice while allowing the appropriate amount of juice intake throughout the day.
- If a child asks for carbonated soda, add seltzer to a glass of 100% pure orange juice to add a bubbly sensation.
- Don’t let toddlers walk around or fall asleep with a baby bottle filled with juice. It can cause tooth decay. The juice bathes the teeth, which may contribute to bacterial growth, plaque and eventual decay (a condition called the “juice bottle syndrome”).
Vitamin C Tips
- Orange and grapefruit juices contain more natural vitamin C than any other fruit juice. They’re great juices for your children – and for you.
- The vitamin C content of canned juices may deteriorate upon exposure to air, so be sure to refrigerate and tightly seal opened containers.
- Freshly squeezed juice contains more vitamin C than “made from concentrate” canned or frozen juices.
- Adding ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, to juice allows manufacturers to claim that the drink will give your child “100% vitamin C.” This health claim, however, can mask its sugary content and hides the fact that other essential nutrients are not included.
Avoiding Tummy Aches
Juices with a high fructose-to-glucose ratio and that contain sorbitol can aggravate the intestines, especially those already sensitive by irritation or infection.
- Recommended Juices: Citrus juices and some other juices (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and white grape juice) do not contain sorbitol and are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition for use during intestinal illnesses.
- Fructose-to-Glucose Ratio: A high fructose-to-glucose ratio may cause diarrhea or abdominal pain because the excess fructose ferments in the large intestine. Orange juice is a recommended juice because it contains equal amounts of glucose and fructose and no sorbitol.
- Infants and Children: Because their immature intestines allow more unabsorbed sugar to reach the colon where it ferments, infants and children are particularly prone to gas and diarrhea from excessive juice.
Favorite 100% Pure Fruit Juice Facts
- Orange – The juice with the highest amount of vitamin C and potassium and a good source of folate and thiamin. It also contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
- Grapefruit – The juice with the second highest amount of vitamin C.
- Apricot Nectar – This juice is high in vitamin A and contains a small amount of iron and zinc.
- Prune – The juice highest in iron, zinc, fiber and niacin.
- White Grape – A juice high in vitamin C, and the best juice for healing the intestines.
- Apple – This juice has no nutritional advantage over other juices, but is good for flavoring water because it dilutes well.
Smoothies and Juicing
- Smoothies are a fun way to ad more fruits and veggies into your child’s diet. You can also add lots of other things into the smoothie to make a very nutritious snack. We also have smoothie tips and recipes on our website.
- Juicing is also way of ensuring that you know what types of juices are getting into your child’s diet. But remember the daily recommendations listed above for juice intake — we always encourage whole fruits and veggies whenever possible!!