When I was a kid, you didn’t see many juice boxes. That product category was still in its infancy – a novelty at best. Now, they’re everywhere and there are tons of different kinds. Do you know what’s in yours?
Many moms see the word “juice” and automatically think “healthy.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Here are two ingredients that are far from healthy, yet often found in kids’ beverages:
- Added sweeteners. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is one of the most common sweeteners, but as we reported two years ago, a pilot study found mercury contamination in this ubiquitous ingredient. It’s also highly processed and made using genetically modified ingredients – a combination leading to still unclear impacts. In addition, some studies have linked consumption of excess amounts of any type of added sugar — not just high-fructose corn syrup — to such health problems as weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition, and more.
- Artificial food dyes. Over the last three decades, repeated studies have concluded that modest doses of synthetic colors added to foods can provoke hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. (We believe that’s enough damning evidence, despite the US FDA’s call for more research before regulating these toxic tints.)
And, it’s not just about what’s intentionally added, sometimes there are risky contaminants. For example, a recent study by Consumer Reports found arsenic in apple and grape juice at levels high enough to increase their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. A full 10 percent of the juices tested by the magazine had arsenic levels higher than what is allowed in water by the Food and Drug Administration.
What can you do?
Read the ingredients. Look for 100% juice products. Opt for organic if possible. And, experiment with new products and flavors. There are so many innovative and healthy options these days, from fresh fruit juices and smoothies to cold teas and coconut water. Try making your own healthy beverages and using reusable water bottles to reduce waste, too!
Call manufacturers. Ask that they remove these unnecessary additives. Also, ask about what the product is packaged in. Increasingly, studies are finding that toxic components of food packaging are leaching into our foods and beverages. It’s also preferable to find something you can recycle. (Or, buy beverages in larger recyclable containers and fill reusable juice boxes or stainless steel bottles.)
Drink less juice. According to coverage from Food Safety News, “Consumer Reports says a poll of parents found that 35 percent of children 5 and younger drink juice in quantities exceeding doctors’ recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that fruit juice not be given to children until they are six months old, and then no more than 6 ounces a day until they’re 6. Weight problems and tooth cavities are the risks the pediatricians cite for drinking too much juice. They also note that juice lacks the fiber and nutrients available in whole fruit.”
What are your family’s favorite drinks?