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Fruit Juices vs. Fruit Beverages

Kids love the taste of pure fruit juice, and parents love it because it’s a healthy source of nutrients. When choosing healthy pure juice for your children, it’s important to note what kind of juice you are serving and how much you are offering. Here’s what families should know about fruit juice versus other fruit-flavored beverages:

Choose the Right Fruit Juice

All juices are not created equal – some are nutritional gems while others are sugar water. Consider these tips as you make juice part of your child’s diet:

Be label savvy and buy juice labeled “100% fruit juice.”

  • Beware of words like “drink,” “punch,” “cocktail,” “beverage” and “ade.” These are not 100% juice – they’re junk fruit beverages.
  • Many junk fruit beverages are nutrient-void beverages, commonly masked as fruit “juice,” “drinks” or “cocktails.” Most contain 10% or less of pure fruit juice, and lots of water, sugar and additives. Junk fruit beverages have little or no nutritional value.
  • Avoid junk fruit beverages that are disguised as juice “blends” that contain small amounts of various fruits like grape, apple and pear. Ounce for ounce, these juices don’t have the natural levels of vital nutrients that 100 percent pure juices like orange juice provide. Plus, they usually contain added sugars.

Examine the ingredients and avoid fruit-flavored beverages that have added fructose corn syrup. They shape a child’s taste toward sweet cravings.

Look at the juice, if you can see through it, you’re buying mostly water. Generally, the cloudier the juice, the more nutritious it is. Picture a tall glass of 100% pure orange juice with pulp. There should be some sediment at the bottom, which is a reminder of the juice’s origins.

Consider juice variety instead of choosing one type of juice. Another beneficial juice in addition to orange juice is nectar juice. Nectar usually has more calories, but more nutrients are preserved during processing nectar than other juices. Apricot nectar is especially healthy, containing a lot of beta-carotene, almost a gram of protein per 8-ounce glass, and it’s higher than most juices in vitamin A, vitamin B-6 and iron. Other nutritious nectars come from the “P” fruits – peaches, pears and prunes.

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