The Role of Juice in a Healthy Diet

A recent article from the medical journal Pediatrics found that preschoolers who drank at least one serving of soda, fruit juice or other sweet beverages every day were more likely to become overweight if they were already overweight or at risk for being overweight.

It appears that for children who are overweight or at risk for being overweight, moderating sweetened beverage consumption and of course, watching their diet and exercise, is important. However, this study did group all sweetened drinks together, which may not be a fair comparison. There is a difference between beverages. Juice that is 100% juice can be a healthy part of your child’s diet and can serve as one fruit serving, according to the USDA Food Guidelines. The new Food Guide Pyramid at www.choosemyplate.gov recommends 100% fruit juice as a way to add a fruit option to a child’s diet. Read nutrition labels, and look for 100% juice, such as Juicy Juice®. Avoid beverages with words like “ade,” “beverage,” “cocktail” or “drink” in the name. These words indicate that a product is not 100% juice. For example, many “fruit juice drinks” contain only 10% fruit juice and contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and artificial flavors.

Parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics policy guidelines for juice consumption, which states that fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces a day for children 1 to 6 years old and 8 to 12 ounces a day for children 7 to 18 years old. The guidelines also differentiate between 100% fruit juice as opposed to fruit drinks, favoring the use of 100% fruit juice.

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