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Is Fruit Juice Bad For Your Children

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Is Fruit Juice Bad For Your Children?

Is Fruit Juice Bad For Your Children

Once seen as nutritious, juice is now being exposed for its high sugar content and minimal health benefits. But should we take it off the menu entirely?

The government includes fruit juice, smoothies and dried fruit in its five-a-day campaign. Yet, recently, their health halo has begun to slip, with researchers from Glasgow University saying that fruit juice is potentially lsquo;just as bad for you as sugary drinks, and calling for labels to be placed on containers warning us not to drink more than 150ml (frac14;pt) a day.

In fact, juice is so high in sugar that the governments official advice that a glass counts towards your five-a-day should be changed, according to Susan Jebb, a government advisor on obesity. lsquo;Fruit juice isnt the same as whole fruit and has as much sugar as fizzy drinks, she says. lsquo;Because it doesnt contain fibre ndash; like whole fruit does ndash; by the time it gets to the stomach, your body doesnt know if its cola or orange juice.

‘Water or milk is always the healthiest option’

This is all potentially guilt-inducing, but dont panic, says Dr Frankie Phillips, an expert in baby and toddler nutrition for the British Dietetic Association. lsquo;As a rule, water or milk is always the healthiest option, and babies under six months shouldnt be given juice at all.

When youre diluting, think one part juice to 10 parts water for younger babies. lsquo;After the age of two, this ratio can be decreased, says Frankie. lsquo;Its still a good idea to keep juices well watered down, at least one part to two parts water.

Try to offer the juice with meals, which reduces the risk of tooth decay, and choose wisely. lsquo;Diluted apple juice has the lowest GI value, which is a measure of how quickly a food gets absorbed and raises blood-sugar levels, says Jane. lsquo;Offering a small glass with a meal containing iron can be useful, as the vitamin C in the juice helps your childs body absorb the mineral from the food.

Unlike juice, smoothies contain fibre, which at least slows down the rate at which sugar is released, helping to avoid lsquo;highs. But, because they still contain a large amount of fruit and are drunk quickly, watch how much your child has.

And its not just drinks that have been hitting the headlines ndash; its toddler favourites like raisins, too. Kate Morris, 33, from West Sussex, mum to Oscar, three, found out the hard way.

‘Offer a chunk of cheese afterwards to prevent tooth decay’

However, if you do want to give fruit-based snacks between meals, save them for a treat, to be eaten in one sitting (its when you leave children to graze all afternoon that the sugars and acids do the most damage). Then, offer a chunk of cheese afterwards. Studies have found if you give your child cheese, which is alkaline, after theyve eaten something acidic, this helps neutralise the bacteria that cause decay.

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