SALLY SQUIRES LEAN PLATE CLUB
Parents try to do the right thing by giving children fruity drinks, which they think are more healthful than sugary, carbonated soda. But for reasons that scientists don't yet understand, the brain doesn't register calories that are sipped as accurately as those that are chewed. So kids drink too much, and that might be contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines advise limiting juice to no more than half the recommended daily intake of fruit. For a 3-year-old, that's half a cup, or 4 ounces; for an 8-year-old, it's no more than three-fourths of a cup, or 6 ounces.
Juice and beverage aisles are jammed with products. What appears to be mostly juice might not be much different from a sugary soft drink. The first ingredient in Minute Maid All Natural Fruit Punch Coolers: water, just like a soft drink. Second ingredient: high-fructose corn syrup, the same sweetener found in soft drinks. Ounce for ounce, the cooler contains about the same amount of syrup as Sunkist Orange Soda. Only toward the bottom of the ingredient list does one find the grape and pear juices that give coolers their name.
There are plenty of kid-friendly options that pack 100 percent juice. Among them: Sesame Street100% Apple and Eve Juices and Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise 100% Fruit Juice, which includes carrot juice and sweet potato puree for added nutrition and coloring.
And for those kids who won't drink milk or eat calcium-rich dairy products, look for a growing number of calcium-fortified, 100 percent juices that can provide as much of this key, bone-building mineral as skim milk. Among them: Minute Maid Kids + Orange Juice.
Visit leanplateclub.com and try our interactive supermarket to compare nutritional values of your favorite groceries at washingtonpost.com/supermarket.