Juice Healthiest Choice for Children
By Gail Rampersaud M.S., R.D., L.D./N.
juice aisle of the grocery store should be an easy trip for parents
looking for healthy drinks for their children. However, shelved
right alongside nutritious juices are various fruit "ades,"
"cocktails," and "drinks" that look healthy,
but contain little juice and lots of added sugar. It's important
to know how to tell the difference because, while the packaging
may look similar, the drinks can differ considerably in nutritional
fact, the USDA includes 100 percent juice as a healthy option to
help children meet daily fruit intake recommendations, which is
about 1½ cups a day for children age 6 to 11 years. Although
you should select whole fruit first, a 6-ounce glass of 100 percent
juice counts as half of the recommended amount. The fruit-flavored
drinks, however, don't make the grade.
So what do you need to know to help make the right choice? The key
is the percentage of pure juice. The percent of fruit juice is the
first thing to look for on the label. You want to find a product
that specifically says 100 percent fruit juice, like '100 percent
orange juice.' That tells you it contains only the natural juice
found in whole fruit, along with many of the nutrients found in
other useful tips to keep in mind when interpreting the nutritional
value of juice beverages include:
*Make sure additions don't subtract from the nutritional value.
Fortifying a beverage with vitamin C allows manufacturers to state
that it provides "100% vitamin C." This claim, however,
deflects attention from added sugars and essential nutrients that
are missing. By comparison, 100 percent orange juice contains vitamin
C and other important nutrients with no added sugar - only the naturally
occurring sugars found in fresh fruit.
*Beware of "drinks," "ades," "punches,"
"cocktails," and other cleverly worded "beverages."
These drinks have added sugars, are typically low in nutrients,
and don't help fulfill fruit intake recommendations. Keep in mind,
the USDA Dietary Guidelines call out only one beverage as a recommended
option to help meet fruit intake recommendations - 100 percent fruit
*Read the nutrition facts label to compare nutrients, ingredients,
serving size and servings per container.
100 percent fruit juices, orange juice is a nutritional standout.
Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, 100
percent orange juice is the most nutrient-dense fruit juice commonly
consumed in the United States (1). Children
of all ages can help increase their intake of critical nutrients
by drinking 100 percent orange juice. The nutrients found in orange
juice may help promote a healthy immune system, contribute to heart
health and may also help protect against certain cancers (2).
One hundred percent orange juice can help improve intake of vitamin
C, folate, potassium and other nutrients that are essential to a
choosing among fruit beverages for children, remember to start with
100 percent juice. Then, choose power-packed juices to help increase
children's intake of essential nutrients and help contribute to
an overall healthy diet.
1. McGill CR, et al. "Health Benefits of
Citrus Juices". Beverages in Nutrition and Health. New Jersey:
Humana Press Inc. 2004.
2. When consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Gail Rampersaud M.S., R.D., L.D./N. is with the
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
information presented on this site is intended solely as a general
educational aid, and is neither medical nor healthcare advice for
any individual problem, nor a substitute for medical or other professional
advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar
with your unique circumstances. Always seek the advice of your physician
or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical
condition and before starting any new treatment.