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Healthy Recipe Doctor

with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Elaine Magee's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Perfect Juice Alternative for Kids

Kids (and some adults) love fruit juice. So nutrition-conscious folks have been going out of their way to buy juice that is made with 100% juice. People figured, “Hey, there isn’t any sugar or high fructose corn syrup added, so it’s all good, right?” Well, it depends on who you ask.

Bottom line: it’s best to eat an orange or an apple or a bowl of grapes rather than drink fruit juice. It takes longer to consume the calories from the fruit compared to drinking the calories as a juice. You get more fiber when you eat the whole fruit. Eating the actual fruit happens more slowly and with the fiber, is thought to be more satisfying. It helps prevent any big rise in blood sugar.

The research that got my attention about a year ago was evidence that suggests drinking even one serving of fruit juice begins to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Some nutrition experts, myself included, have been suggesting that parents with juice-loving kids try to keep the daily juice (albeit 100% fruit juice with no added sugar) to one token serving a day. I also suggest that parents try to find juice that has the fiber included. I’ve found a couple choices over recent months, but then along came a line of organic fruit purees in a pouch by the Peter Rabbit Organics company.

There are three great flavors to choose from:

  • Mango, Banana and Orange
  • Apple and Grape
  • Strawberry and Banana

Imagine, the ingredient list just includes the natural fruit. That’s it. Because your kids can’t see through the pouch, they won’t be turned off by the cloudiness of the fruit puree. They can just concentrate on tasting the smoothie-like fruit combinations. Because this product is the actual fruit pureed, you will find that lovely fiber in each serving.

Each pouch is 3.5 ounces (almost 1/2 cup). Here’s the nutritional analysis for two of the flavors:

Organic Strawberry and Banana: 70 calories, 1g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1.5mg sodium and 52% Daily Value for Vitamin C.

Organic Apple and Grape: 80 calories, .4g protein, 19g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1.5mg sodium and 9% Daily Value for Vitamin C.

The only things about this fruit juice alternative that I’m not crazy about are the price and the fact that it can be hard to find. Whole Foods and some other specialty markets carry it. Once you’ve tried them and you know your family likes them, you can order them by the box (each box has 10 pouches) online through various websites such as Amazon.com and shave off some of the cost. When you order it this way, each pouch still costs about $1.50 each. Okay, so it’s still better- and definitely cheaper – to eat the apple or bowl of grapes! But this is a healthful alternative.

Comment on this post and ask your questions on the Food and Cooking Exchange.

Posted by: Elaine Magee, RD at 3:25 pm

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