10 Things Parents Should Look for With Fruit Juices
Fruit juices can be an alternative to soda or other sugary non-nutritive drinks. However, some beverages passing for fruit juice are not actually as good for you as they would have you believe. Reading labels and knowing what to look for will aid you in choosing the most nutritious juices for your kids. Here are some things to look for.
- Is it fruit juice or a flavored juice drink? – Some beverages labeled as juice drinks, or juice cocktails have as little as 10% actual juice and in some cases less than that. Although many may be fortified with Vitamin C, the sugar content is so high that any nutritional value is compromised by the effects of the sugar. The label will tell you how much juice is actually contained in the product.
- 100% juice has more nutrients – When you get a product with 100% juice, you are getting a product that has been squeezed from actual fruit or from a concentrate. These juices have higher concentrates of vitamins and minerals which are essential to a healthy diet.
- Darker juices have more antioxidants – Blueberry, pomegranate, and grape juice are loaded with antioxidants that fight the free radicals roaming around the body and causing disease. Consider balancing the usual orange, apple and cranberry juices with some of the darker berries for variety and for health.
- Is sodium benzoate an ingredient? – Read labels carefully. Sodium benzoate has been found to have a negative effect on the behavior of children. In addition, when combined with Vitamin C and the preservative potassium benzoate, the carcinogen benzene is formed.
- 100% organic fruit juice – Arguably, certified 100% organic fruit juice will have the most nutrients and also be free from additives, pesticides, herbicides, dyes and other synthetic compounds that can have an adverse affect on health.
- Sugars – Know how much sugar the juice contains because some fruit juices will actually have more than some sodas. High sugar content is associated with childhood obesity, so you will definitely want to limit the amount of juice you are serving your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics has made some recommendations. They suggest no more that 4-6 ounces for kids 1-6 years old and 8-12 ounces for older kids.
- Food dyes – In particular, red dye #40 has been shown to be linked to hyperactivity in children. If possible, try to avoid juices that have this ingredient listed on the label.
- Carmine – Crush some scaled insect bodies into a powder form, boil that in ammonia and filter the solution. Next add alum to the liquid and the resulting red participate is carmine. This red dye is used in the manufacture of paints and rouge, artificial flowers and crimson ink. It’s also used in some deep red fruit juices.
- Potassium – Juices which contain potassium are helpful in balancing sodium in the body. Even though water should be the drink of choice on hot summer days, choosing a juice containing potassium can serve as a smart snack drink.
- High fructose corn syrup – This sugar, derived from corn syrup is said to have disadvantages. It is quickly broken down metabolically and converted to fat. This in turn makes the liver work harder. There is still controversy as to how harmful HFCS actually is to humans. Fruit juices with “no added sugar” have only the sugar that is naturally contained in the fruit itself, and therefore are healthier than those with additional sweeteners.
Reading the labels and researching ingredients will help ensure that you are offering your kids fruit juices that are healthy and nutritious. For the most healthy and purest fruit juices, you may want to consider purchasing a juicer and making your own fresh juices.