My issues with juice are simple. First, it’s used as a substitute for water. So often I see people downing the sweet stuff like it’s going out of style. The problem is that juice is loaded with Calories and sugar that you could avoid with plain old water. The truth is, nutritionally, juice is not far off from soda. Think about how many oranges you would have to squeeze to get 1 cup of juice. 3? 4? That’s a lot of oranges! What you’re left with in that cup of juice is the sugar and Calories from 3 or 4 oranges, and none of the fibre. Juice should be a treat, not a regular thirst-quencher.
Secondly, there are too many impostors out there. “Cocktails”, “beverages”, and “punches” abound grocery store shelves and the packaging would have you believe there’s nothing but fresh-squeezed juice in the carton. Not so. Many of these other “beverages” have tons of additives and added sugar. As if we needed more sugar in our sugary drinks!
Juice isn’t all bad. It does have some vitamins and minerals, but so does whole fruit. However, whole fruit also has fibre, less Calories, and the fill-up factor that juice doesn’t have. Kids do not need juice. Period. Although studies have shown that drinking 100% fruit juice may not contribute to obesity like other sugary beverages, it is still a concentrated source of sugar and Calories and so, should be viewed as a treat like other sweets. If juice is a regular thing in your household, now may be a good time to try to cut back. If you’re going to have juice, there are a few things you can and should do.
- Put a limit on it. One serving of juice is 1/2 cup or 4 oz. This should be the limit for young children for the day. As kids get older, 6-8 oz is appropriate.
- Don’t dilute! There is no need to dilute juice. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to develop a liking for plain water.
- Serve in a cup. Giving juice in bottles can increase the risk of dental caries.
- Make sure it’s 100% fruit juice. Look for the words “100% juice” on the label. Fruit “cocktails”, “punches” and “beverages” are NOT juice.