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Fruit Juices Contain Very High Amounts Of Sugar: Healthier Drinks To Give Your Kids

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If you think you are doing your kid a favor by giving them smoothies and fruit juices, you may be making a huge mistake. A new study suggests that even fruit juices contain very high amounts of sugar.

In a study published in BMJ Open, teens and children are consuming way more sweets than what is recommended as 40 percent of the drink can have about four teaspoons of sugar.

Further, fruit juices and other "healthy drinks" that are supposed to contain no sugar actually use 'Free sugars' naturally present in honeys and syrups, not to mention fruit concentrates may already have too much sugar content.

This is alarming since childhood obesity affects one in every six U.S. teens and children, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rather than spending more money on these types of drinks, dietitian and sports nutrition expert Marie Spano recommends healthier drinks for kids like milk and water.

Water is a necessity for life as the body is composed of 70 percent of it. For a child, water makes up more than 50 percent of their weight. It promotes hydration to ensure the child continues to remain active even during summers, and although it does not have vitamins and minerals, it also does not have calories.

While water is great, "sometimes kids – or anyone – need flavor to stimulate thirst," said Spano. Therefore, she suggests adding some lemon or lime, which can also encourage proper digestion especially when taken early in the morning.

Milk, meanwhile, is a great source of calcium, a mineral that kids need to build and strengthen their bones. Milk requirements can vary according to age. Toddlers need around 700 milligrams each day, which can increase up to 1,300 milligrams once they reach early to full adolescents.

Milk is a versatile drink for children too as it is now available in different flavors and may be served with healthy food such as oatmeal, high-fiber cookie, or a serving of fruit. In fact, pairing the drink with food can "increase the likelihood of milk intake," she adds.

How about for children with special dietary needs? The market now offers several milk and dairy substitutes like soy milk, a plant-based milk that contains less calories than a plain cow's milk and is ideal for those who are lactose intolerant. For children who may have to lose some weight, pediatricians may recommend low-fat or skim milk.

Photo: David Goehring | Flickr

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