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The Juice on Juice: Once and for All

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In the seventh installment of her "Dangerous or Safe?" series, pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson sets the record straight about whether fruit juice is good for kids.

fruit juice

Fruit is a symbol of health:

  • It is grown in the earth.
  • It is naturally sweet and sun-ripened.
  • It is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Fruit juice is supposed to represent a glassful of health.

Fruit juice is now on the receiving end of bad press, credited with everything from severe infections to steady weight gain.

Is juice really all that bad for you?

  • "100% juice" is squeezed from the fruit; it includes vitamins and minerals but misses the fiber.
  • "Juice drinks" take 100% juice, dilute them with water and then add sweeteners like sugar or sugar alternatives; much of the nutritional value is lost and what's left is often a high-calorie drink.
  • Labels are famously unclear, making claims about "health" and "nature" while really containing a product that is unhealthful: "Cocktails," "punches," "drinks" and "beverages" all mean that sugar has been added.

Is there anything redeeming--even healthy--about juice?

  • Fruit purées are as good as taking a bite of the whole fruit.
  • Though 100% juices have more calories than the actual fruit and lack fiber, they still provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Recent data has shown that 100% fruit juice consumption is not related to children becoming overweight.

For Dr. Cara's bottom line, go to Is Juice Bad for Kids? Page 2.

Dr. Cara Natterson, author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe is a pediatrician and mother of 2. To buy a copy of her book, click here.She is currently working on the forthcoming book entitled Dangerous or Safe?

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