Fruit Juice – A Healthy Substitute for Your Kids or Not?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:17 AM

Many juices are advertised as being nutritious, and kids love juice, so parents happily provide it, believing it is a healthy choice. However, juice does not provide the same nutrition as a piece of whole fruit, and has been linked to obesity and tooth decay.  Juice should be given in moderation and should not be thought of as a substitute for healthier choices like whole fruit, milk or water.

If you choose to give your child juice, Sara Wiemer, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions for maximizing its nutritional value:

  • Read labels carefully. Many juices are high in calories and sugar, and low in nutritional value – no better than a can of soda!  Avoid juice from concentrate and juice with a lot of additives.
  • Opt for a serving of fruit instead of juice whenever possible. If this isn’t possible, try to select a 100% fruit juice with pulp. While 100% fruit juice does provide some of the vitamins and nutrients present in the fruit itself, it often lacks fiber and other nutrients,  and can have unhealthy additives.
  • Use a cup, not a bottle, when giving juice to small children and restrict its use to meal or snack times. If a child is “nursing” a bottle of juice over a long period of time, or falls asleep with it in the mouth, the sugars sit on the teeth and will lead to tooth decay.
  • Juice is filling and decreases your child’s appetite for more nutritional foods – be sure to offer healthier choices first.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following servings of juice:

  • Under six months – Not recommended
  • Ages one to six years– No more than 4 to 6 ounces are recommended per day
  • Ages seven to eighteen years – Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day

 

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