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The Naked juice scandal reminds us there's no such thing as healthy juice

Claire Zulkey wonders when she'll ever get used to the idea that she has two boys. She is the author of two books for young people, An Off Year and Best Frenemies. She and her filmmaker husband live in Evanston, IL. You can find out more...

Do yourself a favor — consider all juices, even those that claim to be healthy, liquid candy

The consumer advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is now suing PepsiCo, maker of Naked juice. The CSPI alleges that Naked’s statements like “no sugar added” and “only the best ingredients” lead customers to believe that the juice is healthier than it really is — one of its drinks has more sugar than a can of Pepsi. In the papers filed, the class-action plaintiffs are asking that PepsiCo change its marketing practices and award damages to people who have bought the products.

Does this news leave you feeling burned? Did you give Naked juice to your family under the assumption that it was a healthier choice than other juices?

A handy rule of thumb moving forward through the world of juice — assume all juices are high in the bad stuff, because they are. Yes, your child will get more vitamins and fewer additives by choosing 100 percent fruit juice instead of sweetened juice or fruit juice cocktails, but you still can’t escape the calories and sugar (and the ensuing sugar rush!).

More: 37 green smoothies and juice blends you'll actually want to drink

It’s practically impossible to avoid juice entirely if you have a kid. I know my son gets it at preschool snack-time and sometimes we let him have some at a party or to get him through, say, a haircut or a doctor’s appointment. Just remember that quantity is even more important than quality when it comes to letting your kids have fruit juice — the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

  • Birth to 6 months. No fruit juice unless it's used to relieve constipation
  • 6 to 12 months. If juice is given, limit it to 4 to 6 ounces (118 to 177 milliliters) and serve it in a cup (not a bottle) to avoid tooth decay
  • 1 to 6 years. Up to 6 ounces (177 milliliters) a day (that’s the size of two small Dixie cups)
  • 7 years and older. Up to 12 ounces (355 milliliters) a day

Just remember that your child doesn’t need juice — when in doubt, go with milk or water (and if he turns those down, he’s not really thirsty). And as a rule of thumb, when you’re trying to decide which brand to buy, it’s simply easier to assume all juices — even the ones that claim to be healthy — are nutritionally inferior to a good old piece of fruit.

More: What is really in your orange juice

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