You wouldn't give your toddler a can of soda pop to drink for breakfast, would you?
But one serving of grape juice packs just as much of a sweet punch as a can of Mountain Dew. In fact, grape juice actually has two grams more of sugar than the soda and seven more calories.
But what's so bad about fruit juice, anyway? Over the years, we have grown accustomed to the idea that juice is a healthy drink, but it's actually anything but.
Not only does the amount of sugar in juice contribute to tooth decay, but there are a whole host of diseases and conditions that juice can trigger.
For parents and caregivers wanting to provide healthy drinks for kids, juice doesn't seem to be such a healthy choice after all.
Health Risks Associated with Too Much Sugar
Overconsumption of sugar is considered one of the biggest threats to children's health. With obesity and diabetes on the rise, it's very important to watch how much sugar your child is eating - and drinking.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting children's daily added sugar limit to between three and six teaspoons, depending on their age.
Juice contains very high amounts of sugar, so it's important to know the correct amount for your child to have on a daily basis. See the guideline below for more details.
Children's Guideline for Fruit Juice Consumption
If you're unsure of how much juice is okay to give your child, you are not alone. The Mayo Clinic has created a helpful guide to figuring out the best amount of juice by age below.
Birth to 12 months
Infants are not to be given fruit juice, with the exception of prune juice for constipation.
1 to 3 years
Four ounces of juice served in a cup is permitted daily.But, do not give your toddler juice in a bottle because it can greatly increase tooth decay, especially if they drink it throughout the day. Avoid giving juice before bedtime.
4 to 6 years
Four to six ounces a day is ideal.
7 to 18 years
One cup of juice is an acceptable amount to have or up to two-and-a-half cups of fresh fruit instead.
Fruit Juice Alternatives
Although you can't avoid giving your child fruit juice altogether, there are some healthier options instead. Try giving your child whole fruits instead of juice; the fiber is more satisfying.
Diluting juice to a 30/70 ratio instead of straight-up juice is another option. The subtle amount of juice will provide just enough flavor without the sugary after-effects.
Herbal teas are wonderful healthy drinks for kids and a great alternative to fruit juices.
Vegetable juices are a healthier alternative, preferably green.
Seltzer water a great alternative to soda pop. Add a little squeeze of lemon or orange for a burst of flavor.
Coconut water has many health benefits. Not only is it a low-calorie drink, it has loads of potassium and is a great source of electrolytes when you are dehydrated.
Sneaky Ingredients Disguised In Healthy Drinks for Kids
The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) suggests if you do give your child juice, make sure it is 100 percent juice.
Yet, some healthy drinks for kids are often disguised as wolves in sheep's clothing. This means they have ingredients that sound healthy, but they're not.
A recent study revealed that there are actually 71 different types of sweeteners hidden in plain sight.
Here are a few:
- Dehydrated can juice
- Sugar in the raw
- Brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Inverted sugar
- Corn syrup
- Corn sweetener
- Juice concentrate
- Rice syrup
- Palm sugar
Although High-Fructose Corn Syrup has been frowned upon and phased out, it continues to make an appearance under other names like "table sugar" or "corn sugar". Be mindful of these alternative names when you are reading labels.
How Juice and Other Sugary Drinks Harm the Body
It's a proven scientific fact that regularly drinking fruit juice contributes to diabetes and obesity. Just two sugar-sweetened drinks a day can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 26 percent.
So what's the difference between giving your child a piece of fruit to eat versus a juice box? Well for starters, a piece of fruit takes longer to digest, so your blood sugar levels won't spike.
When the body drinks juice instead, the amount of sugar traveling into the bloodstream is instant. What that means is our livers, pancreas, and heart take a direct hit, setting us up for heart or liver disease down the road.
Too much sugar also means too many triglycerides are released into our bloodstream and clogging our arteries.
The Name Game
Sugar-free. No sugar added. Zero sugar. Sometimes all of these names can be confusing. So what's the difference anyway? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sheds some light on what these terms mean below:
Artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame are the most common types of chemical used in diet sodas and teas. The FDA defines sugar-free as anything under 0.5 calories.
No Sugar Added
No amount of sugars were added and no added sugar ingredients, as in juices or jams, were included.
If a label says "reduced sugar" it means the amount of sugar in the product has been reduced by at least 25 percent.
If your child is overweight or has diabetes, sometimes a sugar-free alternative is necessary to have. Make sure to consult with your child's pediatrician beforehand.
Drink to Their Health
Selecting the best healthy drinks for kids shouldn't have to be a stressful experience. As long as you educate yourself with the most up-to-date information, you can rest assured you are doing everything you can to make healthy choices for your family.
Now that you've got all the information you need on fruit juices and sugar, we hope you take a look at some of the healthy fruit juice alternatives we have available.
Take a look at some of our delicious drink choices and sample a few of your favorites today!