My kids love to drink juice, but I’m concerned because they seem to drink more juice than milk. Since juice is made from fruit I figure it’s better than soft drinks, but what about sports drinks? Are they healthy?
Dr. Greene’s Answer:
Juices made from the whole fruit without straining out the fiber are better for kids than those that aren’t. Some filtered juices are little better than soda!
Sports drinks are okay as a treat, but don’t think of them as health food. Look at the label on your sports drink and you’ll see that it contains lots of sugar and some sodium. Kids today get far too much sugar.
Kids don’t have to worry as much about sodium. Their bodies are better able to handle a big load of sodium than adult bodies are, but it is still a bad habit to develop for the long-term.
Juices made from the whole fruit without straining out the fiber are better for kids than those that aren’t. Some filtered juices are little better than soda. And some juice blends have only small amount of real juice and lots of added ingredients, especially sugar. Check the nutrition label to be sure.
Vegetable juices tend to have a fair amount of nutrition but are not very popular with kids.
To reduce sugar, ice water and milk are great choices for many kids. Sometimes just a little bit of flavoring can make water more fun for kids and adults. Adding a strawberry or a slice of lemon or lime can work magic.
And be on the lookout: Some kids who don’t drink milk don’t get enough calcium. Kids 4 to 8 years old need 800 mg per day. Those 9 to 18 need at least 1300 mg (Pediatrics, February 2006, pp. 578-585).