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Fruit Juice Does Nothing For Kids, Pediatricians Say

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There is no reason for kids to drink fruit juice, if whole fruits are readily available, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised. In case children get thirsty, they should drink water to wash down the fruits, instead.

Fruit juice has plenty of benefits, such as vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium. It also contains antioxidants, which are really helpful in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, the Los Angeles Times reports.

But all these things apply to whole fruits as well. In addition, fruits contain fiber that helps keep blood sugar levels down, reduces cholesterol and cleans the colon. Fruits can also keep people from gaining weight, since it takes a while to eat a piece of fruit compared to drinking a glass of fruit juice.

When it comes to fighting tooth decay in kids, fruits also have the upper hand. Children who carry sippy cups or bottles of juice expose their teeth to carbohydrates constantly. This, in turn, leads to cavities.

Fruit juice remains one of the most popular beverages for kids and teens. Almost half of the fruit Americans between the ages of 2 and 18 consume are in juice form. And pediatricians say that needs to change. According to a statement the AAP released,

Fruit juice offers no nutritional advantage over whole fruit.

The new recommendations were categorized according to children of various ages. For infants younger than six months, there should be no juice at all. The only thing newborns should be drinking is breast milk or infant formula.

For babies six months to one year old, liquids should be restricted to breast milk, formula or water. Mashed or pureed fruit should be part of their solid diet, as well.

For toddlers and children younger than six years old, it becomes more challenging to keep fruit juices away from them. “Fruit juice and fruit drinks are easily overconsumed by toddlers and young children because they taste good,” the AAP says. “In addition, they are conveniently packaged or can be placed in a bottle or transportable covered cup and carried around during the day.”

But parents should not be deterred and encourage their kids to eat fruits, instead. Older children generally drink less juice, so parents can rest a bit easier. But still, they should not drink more than eight ounces of juice per day.

Parents should also be aware that not all fruit juices are the same, the AAP says, and to check the labels on juice boxes to make sure there are no excessive added sugars or flavors that may be harmful.

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