Offering your child a juice box or a glass of fruit juice with a meal may seem like a healthy choice – but is it really? Are fruit drinks unhealthy, in fact?
Well, a new study found that fruit juices marketed toward kids are often less healthy than you might assume, Yahoo Lifestyle reports. This is due to artificial sweeteners or added sugar that are often included, even though the packaging may not make that fact very clear, the 2019 Children’s Drink Facts study, conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, noted.
“Most of them didn’t have any juice,” lead study author Jennifer Harris, Ph.D., told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I don’t think parents realize that.”
It’s not the first time that juice has been in the news over its questionable nutritional value for kids. In May 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced new guidelines saying children under 12 months of age should have no juice – a change that local experts said was “long overdue,” Metro Parent reported.
Some popular kids’ drinks that contained high amounts of added sugar included Capri Sun Juice Drink, Hawaiian Punch, Sunny D and Minute Maid Lemonade, the Children’s Drink Facts study pointed out.
Even though the drinks may boast having vitamin C, for example, they might also contain no fruit juice at all – or even have more than 50 percent of kids’ recommended daily sugar intake in a single serving, Harris said.
Another concern, she told CNN in another recent article, is that many parents may not know how to recognize the names of artificial sweeteners. Examples of those names include aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, stevia, neotame and saccharin, CNN adds.
Consider these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate website for making healthy beverage choices for your family.
1. Reach for water
As simple as it may sound, you can’t go wrong with water – which is healthier, less expensive and helps quench your thirst between meals.
2. Make healthy choices readily available
Water and low-fat or fat-free milk or dairy alternatives should be readily available when kids are looking for something to drink – that way, kids won’t be tempted to reach for a juice box or soda.
If opting for fruit juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice without added sweeteners, and only offer it in moderation. Try out this raw carrot juice recipe from hometown juice chain Drought for an easy four-ingredient drink you can make yourself.
3. Read the labels
As a family, learn to read food labels and what they mean. Parents and kids can get familiar with checking to see whether a fruit drink has added sugar or sweeteners.