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The American Academy of Pediatrics released new recommendations Monday warning parents against giving fruit juice to children under age one.
“Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit for infants and children and has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children,” the group states in its report in the journal Pediatrics.
The organization focuses on two main issues with the beverage: its high sugar content, which can put kids at an increased risk of cavities, and its lack of protein and fiber, which can predispose children to inappropriate weight gain.
The report says juice can be part of a wholesome diet for healthy children over the age of one, but the overall findings square with a recent spate of evidence that suggests juice isn’t as great as we thought.
While juice has some vitamins and in some cases even a small amount of protein, research shows that the best way to get those nutrients is to eat a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
More importantly, juicing fruit removes most of the fiber, which is the key ingredient that keeps you feeling full until your next meal. This is one of the reasons calories from sweetened beverages are often referred to as “empty calories,” since they can increase hunger pangs and mood swings and leave you with low energy levels.
So instead of adding a glass of juice to your child’s (or your) next meal, swap it with a glass of water and an actual piece of fruit.