When I was growing up, “juice” was standard fare for kids. Those were the Kool-Aid days…. But now we realize that even juice that comes from real fruits and not a packet of sugary powder is not necessarily healthful.
What is so wrong about juice or other sugary beverages? Isn’t a glass of orange juice an important part of a well-rounded breakfast?
Here are some facts about juice and sugary beverages that may surprise you.
One cup (8 ounces) of apple juice–even 100% apple juice with no sugar added–has the same amount of sugar as 5 apples. Five! Can you imagine your child eating 5 apples at once? The same approximation is true for orange juice. And many companies sell juices in much larger quantities: an average bottle is 15.2 ounces: that’s nearly 10 apples worth of sugar.
We all know that soda is bad for us. But did you know that juice and soda have a similar sugar content? A 12 ounce can of coke, for example, has 40 grams of sugar. ( 4 grams of sugar are equivalent to 1 teaspoon and so that is nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar.) The average bottle of apple juice? Though sugar content varies, most apple juice has about 40 g of sugar in a 12 oz bottle. Again, that’s equivalent to almost 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Tips for parents:
- I recommend that kids of all ages drink mostly water and milk.
- I advise parents to think of juice as “liquid candy.” Okay, perhaps that is a little dramatic, but for a healthy diet juice should be considered a treat rather than a routine addition to a meal or a means of hydration.
- If you do give your child juice, take a lesson from the French: they serve it in the cutest itty-bitty glasses.
- To make sure that your child gets all of the vitamins and minerals that they need to stay healthy, encourage them to eat plenty of whole fruits and vegetables. Your child will get plenty of vitamins eating an orange instead of drinking a glass of orange juice, without the excess of sugar or the spike and fall in blood glucose.