A hot topic in pediatric nutrition always seems to be the topic of juice. Is it good, is it bad, what kind should I be giving my child? It’s important to know that “fruit beverages” have different distinctions, which affect their overall nutrient profile. In fact, just like certain food products have to posses certain ingredients in certain proportions for the government to grant them a standard of identity (think mayonnaise,whole wheat bread, etc) so do juices.
A carton/bottle can only be labeled “Juice” if it is 100% fruit juice. This means that the only ingredients in this product are whole fruits that have been processed down into what becomes the juice concentrate which is then combined with filtered water if needed (there are a few exceptions of course like freshly squeezed juices, where water isn’t added). Occasionally, there may be additives like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or beta-carotene (vitamin A) but nothing else to dilute the whole fruit juice. Next we have “Juice drink” which can have no less than 50% fruit juice to earn this distinction. Next in line we have “Nectar” which can have no less than 30-40% fruit juice, “Ade” (think lemonade, limeade, grapeade) which can have no less than 25% fruit juice, and lastly we have “drink” which can have no less than 10% fruit juice (reminds me of the “Orange Drink” they used to give us at elementary school cook-outs).
So as we stray from the 100% fruit juice distinction that’s where we can start to see other things in our juice besides real fruit juices such as high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, dyes, the list goes on!
As one might be able to see from this information, 100% fruit juice is your best bet. In fact, ½ cup of 100% fruit juice counts as one serving of fruit. While serving your kiddos 100% fruit juice can be a tasty way of making sure they get adequate amounts of fruit in their diet, you want to make sure not to over do it and that juice isn’t overly replacing whole fruit. It’s recommended that 1-6 year olds have 4-6 oz of juice per day, and children 7 and up limit their juice consumption to 8-12 oz. simply because although these juices tend to be great sources of vitamin C, they are also high in natural sugars. It’s a good idea to encourage kids to drink mostly water when they are thirsty so as to prevent them from only finding satisfaction in sweet drinks.
So, as if you didn’t know where this was going…here it is: moderation is key!
Tags: baby food making