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Not really. Juice has less fiber and is less nutritious than whole fruit. It also tends to be much higher in sugar.
For example, 1/2 cup of apple juice has no fiber and 13 grams of sugar. Compare that to 1/2 cup of apple slices, which has 1 1/2 grams of fiber and 5 1/2 grams of sugar.
So it's healthier for your child to eat fresh fruit and drink water instead. She'll get more nutrients and fiber – and a lot less sugar.
Too much juice can also cause diarrhea and tooth decay, and even contribute to obesity if kids fill up on juice instead of healthier foods.
But juice isn't all bad: A small glass can be a way to get in one of the four or five daily servings of fruit and veggies recommended for children. Just be sure to choose pasteurized products that are 100 percent juice, and avoid "juice drinks," which can have as little as 10 percent real juice. (The rest is added sweeteners and flavorings.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends serving sizes of juice based on age:
- Younger than 12 months: No juice
- Ages 1 to 3: No more than 4 ounces (1/2 cup) a day
- Ages 4 to 6: No more than 6 ounces (1/2 to 3/4 cup) a day
- Age 7 or older: No more than 8 ounces (1 cup) a day
If you want to cut back on how much juice your child drinks, here are some ways to limit the amount he gets:
Serve it in a regular cup, rather than in a bottle, juice box, or sippy cup he can carry around with him. That way, your child won't get in the habit of sipping juice all day.
Dilute your child's juice with water. Start with half juice and half water (or sparkling water), and gradually reduce the amount of juice over time.
Editor's note: Researchers at Consumer Reports have found that some juice products contain potentially harmful levels of heavy metals such as lead, inorganic arsenic, and cadmium. Read the Consumer Reports article for a list of these products as well as suggestions for better alternatives.