How to help your kid cut down on sugar and juice

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I hate to break it to you, but juice isn’t as healthy as you might think. Sure, it might contain a day’s worth of vitamin C (along with other nutrients), but it also contains a concentrated source of natural sugar — far in excess of what mother nature provides in fruit itself. When consumed as fruit, kids get the benefit of those health protective vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, which is lacking in juice and also under-consumed by kids.

New recommendations that have the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggest that kids up to one year old avoid juice altogether and those up to three stick with no more than ½ cup per day. (Measure that out; it’s not a lot.) After that, the upper limit inches up to ¾ cup for kids up to 5 years old. (Older kids can have a tad more — up to a cup.) But that’s if you serve juice at all. These new guidelines make it clear that whole fruit, whether fresh, or unsweetened frozen or canned, is a better choice.

Setting juice aside, there’s a good chance you’re unknowingly serving other foods and drinks with hidden sugars — even ones disguised as healthy products. Uncovering sources of hidden sugar — and then limiting them in your children’s diet — will help you create lifelong healthy eaters and reduce their burden of diet-related diseases. Here’s what you need to know.