Today many parents are confused about the health benefits or risks of serving their kids fruit juice. In the past, fruit juice was considered a very healthy choice of beverage since it contains Vitamin C and many other nutrients. Yet according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, fruit juice may be “misused” as a drink for kids as it is basically pure fruit sugar! Serving fruit juice shouldn’t be a major concern for parents, but the AAP identifies several potential problems with serving kids too much.
Serving kids fruit juice on a regular basis may contribute to:
* Excess weight and obesity
* Dental caries (cavities) due to the natural sugar it contains
* Gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas and abdominal pain
It isn’t that fruit juice is bad for kids, it’s a case of quantity and quality. When you serve your kids juice, make sure it is 100% pasteurized fruit juice, not a fruit drink or “cocktail” that contains mostly refined sugar. If your child already has a regular juice habit, try diluting it with fresh water to reduce calories and intake of sugar.
Serving kids aged 1 to 6 years 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice a day is considered safe and reasonable; for older kids, 8 to 12 ounces of is appropriate. Children under 6 months of age should not be given any fruit juice, with the possible exception of use as an occasional remedy for constipation.
Fruit juice has a lot of calories compared to whole fruit, and whole fruit is more nutritious. Try experimenting to find fruits your child enjoys eating. Try making fruit smoothies for your kids (mix the pulp with ice or almond milk for a healthy and nutritious start to the day). Avoid serving juice as a substitute for more than half of your child’s recommended daily servings of fruit.