For many parents, teachers and babysitters, a glass of juice is an easy snack to grab when kids get hungry. But is the beverage truly nutritious for your kids, or is it doing more harm than good?
Naturally you want your kids to have all the vitamins and minerals they need. And juice can seem like an easy way to ensure they get their daily requirement of fruits and vegetables. But if you pick the wrong juices, you could be giving them more empty sugars than genuine food value.
Read the labels
When picking out juices for your children, keep in mind that not all juices are created equally. Some are truly 100 per cent juice, while others have been concentrated and need added water to bring them back to the desired taste level. But there are some that are made almost entirely of artificial additives and flavours. CBC News reveals that some beverages posing as juices hold as little as 5 to 10 per cent juice. And what makes up the other 90 to 95 per cent? Nothing good. Kool-Aid Jammers, for instance, have high-fructose corn syrup as their second ingredient. And other than a little bit of concentrated apple juice, the rest of the ingredient list features artificial flavours, preservatives and dyes. Not a whole lot of wholesome goodness in there for your little one.
Find the best option
Although there are a lot of less-than-stellar options out there, there are also some juices that can be very good for your kids. Tropicana Premium, for example, is made of 100 per cent pure oranges. Or if you have a juicer at home, turn your favourite fruits and vegetables into delicious all-natural beverages. So long as you steer clear of juices with misleading labels that call the product a “fruit cocktail,” “fruit drink” or a “fruit beverage,” you should be OK. When in doubt, though, take a peek at the ingredients to be sure.
Opt for healthier alternatives
Keep in mind that juice isn’t the only option. When it comes to quenching your child’s thirst, Health Canada advises that water can’t be beat, and whole fruits and vegetables are better options for nutritional content. So although juice has its place, it isn’t the only way to go. Make sure juice isn’t acting as a replacement for water or real fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet.
Pasteurized vs. unpasteurized
Another aspect of juice selection to take into account is whether it has been pasteurized or not. Health Canada recommends avoiding all beverages that are unpasteurized — meaning they haven’t been treated with heat or ultraviolet light, which kills potentially harmful micro-organisms. Though it’s unlikely you’ll find unpasteurized juice at your local supermarket, you may find it at farmers markets or orchards. And while it’s true that unpasteurized juice is safe for most adults, it can be dangerous for young children and can cause illness, so make sure to keep an eye out.