The juice aisle of the grocery store should be an easy trip for parents looking for
healthy drinks for their children. However, shelved right alongside nutritious juices
are various fruit “ades,” “cocktails” and “drinks” that look healthy, but contain little
juice and lots of added sugar.
It’s important to know how to tell the difference because, while the packaging may
look similar, the drinks can differ considerably in nutritional value. In fact, the USDA recommends 100 percent juice as one way to help get the daily fruit a child needs.
The fruit-flavored drinks, however, don’t make the grade.
So what do you need to know to help make the right choice? According to Gail Rampersaud, M.S., R.D., L.D./N. with the University of Florida Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences, the key is the percentage of pure juice. “The percent of fruit juice is the first thing to look for on the
label. You want to find a product that specifically says 100 percent fruit juice, like ‘100 percent orange juice.’ That tells you it
contains only the natural juice found in whole fruit along with the nutrients naturally found in that juice.”
Gail offers the following tips to help parents interpret the nutritional value of juice beverages:
* Make sure additions don’t subtract from the nutritional value. Fortifying a beverage with vitamin C allows manufacturers to state
that it provides “100 percent vitamin C.” This claim, however, deflects attention from added sugars and essential nutrients that are missing. By comparison, 100 percent orange juice provides vitamin C and other important nutrients with no added sugar — only
the naturally occurring sugars found in fresh fruit.
* Beware of “drinks,” “ades,” “punches,” “cocktails” and other cleverly worded “beverages.” These drinks have added sugars, are typically low in nutrients, and don’t help fulfill fruit intake recommendations. Keep in mind, the USDA Dietary Guidelines call out
only one beverage as a recommended option to help meet fruit intake recommendations — 100 percent fruit juice.
* Read the nutrition facts label to compare nutrients, ingredients, serving size and servings per container.
Among 100 percent fruit juices, orange juice is a nutritional standout. Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients,
100 percent orange juice is the most nutrient-dense fruit juice commonly consumed in the United States.
“Children of all ages can help increase their intake of critical nutrients by drinking 100 percent orange juice,” said Rampersaud.
“The nutrients found in orange juice may help promote a healthy immune system, contribute to heart health and may also help
protect against certain cancers when consumed as part of a healthy diet.”
When choosing among fruit beverages for children, remember to start with 100 percent juice. Then, choose power-packed juices,
such as 100 percent orange juice, to help increase children’s intake of essential nutrients and help contribute to an overall healthy diet. For more on the health benefits of 100 percent juice and its role in children’s diets, visit www.FloridaJuice.com.