Last week I watched a commercial for grape juice that claimed to have a full serving of fruit per glass and found that claim to be a bit misleading. While there is no harm in fruit juice, I hardly think it’s a substitute for real fruit. If we take an apple as an example, some of the healthiest parts of an apple are the fiber and the skin, both of which are lost in the juicing process. Fruit juice also concentrates all the sugar from the fruit so when our kids ingest that sugar without the fiber, it causes a spike in their blood sugar whereas eating an apple would slow the absorption of the sugar and keep them feeling fuller, for longer. All this sugar can also lead to tooth decay, especially for those children that are drinking juice from a sippy cup all day. Once you ditch the fiber and skin, you lose many of the powerful vitamins, antioxidants and flavonoids that fruits provide — this is true for most fruits, not just apples. One study found that an orange contains five times more of one antioxidant than a glass of orange juice.
I am not suggesting that you ditch all the fruit juice in your fridge, I just don’t believe that fruit juice is a substitute for actual fruit. If your children prefer to drink their fruit, then opt for a smoothie instead and throw in whole pieces of fruit so your children will benefit from the nutrition of the whole fruit. And if your kids love fruit juice, try watering it down to cut some of the sugar or serve it only at dinner time and add sparkling water to make it fun. Lastly, look for 100% fruit juice and avoid those with added sugars and coloring.