THEY say… It’s pure fruit juice, so it’s good for us, it’s good for our kids, right?
Juice is actually a drink made of pure liquid sugar… in this case fructose. So, in spite of the fact that you or your children may be drinking a drink that says “100% pure fruit juice,” it may as well say “pure sugar.” It may as well be soda.
Here’s why. The sugar that comes from fruit is fructose. This is the same sugar in high fructose corn syrup. Fructose was designed by Mother Nature to be consumed with all of the fiber in the fruit it came in… so that its absorption would be slowed down… so your body could handle it. It was NEVER intended to be in that concentrated form that we find in HFC’s… or juices!
Fiber slows the absorption of the sugar in the fruit, as well as containing healthy fiber to feed your gut bacteria.
So, unless it is wrapped up in a whole fruit, fructose is bad news for your kid’s body and their waistline. It is actually known to be a strong contributor to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Let’s talk about the sugar load from the juice. I’ll start with the most popular ones we give our kids: Orange, Apple, and Grape.
A 12 oz glass of orange juice hits their system with a whopping 37 grams of sugar (fructose). And in a 12 oz glass of apple juice, they are gulping down an astronomical 40 g of sugar! That’s as much as a can of soda! But wait, that’s not the worst of it — a similarly sized glass of grape juice – white or red – contains almost 60 g of sugar! That’s nearly three times the recommended daily allowance!!
The mixed juice drinks are no better. Most often concentrated white grape juice, or apple juice is added for sweetness. Check out the sugar grams in Tropicana Berry Punch, or Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry Juice. It’s a tremendous amount of sugar! So how much is too much?
Here’s a reality check:
Pre-teen and teens averaging 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day should not have more than 5 to 8 teaspoons (20 to 32 grams) of added sugar per day.
But what about that added Vitamin C? Forget it! There is little vitamin C, antioxidants of anything else of benefit in a bottle of fruit juice.
One of the biggest problems here is that fruit juice contains NO fiber and is a very concentrated source of liquid sugar — the worst kind.
Why is that? It is way too easy for your kid to consume massive amounts of sugar from juice in a very short time. Fructose goes straight to the liver for processing. Because it is too much for the system to handle, some of it is quickly turned into fat cells. Some of the sugar just goes right into the bloodstream and causes insulin to be released. This is the perfect storm for quick weight gain.
A lot of those new fat cells are stored in the liver, creating a fast track to fatty liver disease. The rest of those fat cells turn into triglycerides, one of the precursors for heart disease. Due to the release of insulin, many of these fat cells are quickly stored in various parts of the body — i.e., belly fat, hips, thighs, etc.
A study showed that just one glass of grape juice a day caused insulin resistance and increased waist size in just three months.
Here’s the other thing. These juices just make you want to eat more! And drink more! Make no mistake, you are not doing kids any favors by giving them juice. It does the same thing as any other sugar-sweetened beverage. If you want to reduce the chances that your child will be obese or develop type 2 diabetes, eliminate the juice drinks.
One study showed that the risk of obesity in children was increased by 60% for each daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages. It is no secret that childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes is one of the fastest growing problems in the U.S. One of the biggest contributors to this is sweet drinks, like juice and soda.
I could go on about how these so-called fruit juices are actually processed… the bottom line is that they are just not good for you or your kiddos!
All in all, if you are thirsty, or your kids are thirsty, drink water.
If flavor you must, make your own flavored waters. I like slicing up a cucumber to give the water some added flavor. Try adding a real orange slice to your sparkling water or a lemon or lime wedge. Or add some mint leaves. Or use those amazing infuser pitchers or water bottles and drink up!
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