Juice often gets bad press as a potential contributor to childhood obesity, but recent research tells a different tale, finding that, in fact, juice can have some very real health benefits for kids — provided they drink the right type.
Vitamins and minerals
According to the American Dietetic Association, “with the exception of fiber, fruit juices provide substantial contributions of several vitamins and minerals.” While juice should not be thought of as a replacement for whole fruits and vegetables, 100 percent juice does help to complement an overall healthy diet — one cup of fruit juice counts as one fruit serving in the nutritional pyramid. Additionally, 100 percent fruit juices that are fortified with additional vitamins and calcium help to boost overall nutritional intake in growing bodies. Make sure you don’t confuse “real juice” for those made with added sugars, artificial blends and sweeteners. The powerful health benefits of juice for kids lie in those that are marked as “100 percent juice.”
Kids are always on the go, and staying hydrated is important to maintaining energy levels, concentration and a healthy system. Compared with adults, kids’ bodies are less effective at perspiring and can produce more heat during exercise. Further, while adults may be more in tune with their bodies and thirst, few kids want to stop in the middle of play, even when their bodies are screaming for hydration. Healthy juices contribute to daily fluid intake and provide a much healthier alternative to sugar-laden sports drinks.
The University of California – Davis recently conducted a review of past juice research going back to 2005. Its findings suggest that there could be a “positive association between intake of 100 percent juice and reduced risk for several chronic diseases.” Their review indicated that consumption of apple, citrus, cranberry, grape and pomegranate juices all showed beneficial effects, ranging from reductions in urinary tract infections to certain cancers.
In a separate study, researchers at the University of California – Davis found that adults who drank one eight-ounce glass of vegetable juice each day “got nearly twice as many vegetable servings a day than those who did not drink any vegetable juice,” and those same benefits extend to kids. If you have a picky eater, vegetable juice can be a great (and frustration-free) way to make sure she is getting at least some vegetables into her diet — even if the broccoli remains on the plate.
Develop healthy habits
Research published in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that adolescents who drank any amount of 100 percent juice had lower intakes of total dietary fat and saturated fat — and higher intakes of key nutrients, including vitamins C and B6, folate, potassium and iron — than those who did not. Further, the study indicates that kids who drank more than six ounces of 100 percent juice a day also ate more whole fruit and fewer added fats and sugars.