Is fruit juice really good for you?
While 100 percent fruit juices have the appearance of being healthy, these products could be supplying your child with an entire day’s worth of sugar.
A new study analyzed the added sugar content found in 100 percent fruit juices and other similar products that are marketed heavily to children. More than half of the products examined in the study “contained a full day’s recommended maximum amount of sugar for a child,” according to a news release.
“Children should typically limit juice to four to six ounces per day,” says Alisa Oler, a registered dietitian at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Juices may contain added sugars, which provide no nutritional value other than additional calories. While it’s hard to completely avoid sugar, limiting extra sugar intake is key for children to maintain a healthy weight and helps them develop healthy habits for the future.”
The study, conducted at the University of Liverpool in Great Britain, also notes there is a difference between eating whole fruits and vegetables and consuming them as juices and smoothies, pointing out that healthy fiber is often lost during the processing of such products.
“Fiber has many health benefits, such as preventing constipation and limiting spikes in blood sugar,” adds Oler. “It’s true that this, and sometimes other nutritional components as well, is lost when the food becomes processed. Choosing as many whole, natural foods as possible can really help reduce the amount of sugar your family is consuming.”
Oler offers the following tips for both children and adults to stay away from sugar-packed beverages:
- Make juices at home instead of using prepackaged products, or dilute juice by adding an equal amount of water. This gives you the ability to control the amount of added sugar.
- Add fruit to water to liven up the flavor. While fruit contains natural sugar, the added nutritional value whole fruit offers makes this a great option.
- If you or your child is fond of carbonated soft drinks, try flavored sparkling water instead. This is a much healthier alternative that often satisfies the craving for soda or juice.
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