My daughter doesn't like carbonated drinks. I always viewed this as a plus. When we're out at a restaurant, she'll have milk, lemonade, or water. With your average can of soda containing 10 teaspoons of sugar, any alternative has to be better.
Not so, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In its report Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks Are Harming Americans' Health, the Center claims that "fruit drinks... are basically noncarbonated soft drinks." And we know how bad soft drinks are. The Center provides a long list of ills:
The empty calories of soft drinks are likely contributing to health problems, particularly overweight and obesity.... [studies show that] soft drinks are directly related to weight gain. That weight gain, in turn, is a prime risk factor for type 2 diabetes... Frequent consumption of soft drinks may also increase the risk of osteoporosis—especially in people who drink soft drinks instead of calcium-rich milk. Dental experts continue to urge that people drink less soda pop, especially between meals, to prevent tooth decay (due to the sugars) and dental erosion (due to the acids). Frequent consumers of soft drinks may also be at a higher risk of kidney stones and a slightly higher risk of heart disease.Not to mention caffeine, artificial colorings, etc. But fruit juice doesn't have those ugly additives, right?
Well, juice certainly has the sugar and the calories. A revealing chart on hookedonjuice.com (a site that dispels the myth that "juice is good for you") compares a can of Coke to a similar 12-ounce serving of orange juice (8 teaspoons of sugar), apple juice (10 teaspoons), and grape juice (a whopping 15 teaspoons). And, for each of the three juices, the calorie content is higher than what you'll find in that can of Coke.
As a stay-at-home dad, I'm often the one doing the grocery shopping. Recently, I was looking at a bottle of cranberry juice... well, what I thought was cranberry juice. On the front, the label proclaims "100% juice." But, take a closer look, and you'll see this is a "cranberry flavored" drink. A peek at the ingredients tells us that there is actually more grape than cranberry juice in the bottle (with apple juice added for good measure).
We all want healthy foods for our families. We're all aware of the bane of processed foods -- salt saturated and packed with fats. But juice? What we give to babies?
According to fruitjuicefacts.org, a web site of the Juice Products Association (an industry lobbying group):
100% fruit juices are nutritious beverages that have been enjoyed by adults and children for decades. 100% fruit juices can play an important role in a healthy diet because they offer great taste and a variety of nutrients found naturally in fruits.First, note the emphasis on "100% fruit juices" (so much of what's sold -- all those juice boxes, bottles, and cartons -- can't make that 100% claim). Second, as Hooked On Juice makes clear, even the 100% variety is "loaded with sugar and calories." Third, I've learned to always be wary of an entity (especially if it's a lobbying group) that professes to openly and magnanimously deliver the "facts."
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to dis juice or rail against juice consumption. I don't think there's some kind of Great Juice Conspiracy. My concern is with consumers making informed choices, understanding that certain interests may be propagating a glowing, as-good-as-fruit image of juice. Case in point: the following VNR (video news release). Although it looks like a legitimate news story, it was produced by the Juice Products Association.