Juicing for Kids
When you decide to give fresh fruit and vegetable juices to your kids, firstly consider their age. There are no hard and fast rules but we need to be wise as kids' tummies are much more sensitive than ours, especially when introducing new foods.Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are one of the best things that you can give to your child. They contain the highest quality nutrients that are essential for your child as she grows up. Children who drink fresh juices regularly are less likely to fall sick compared to children who don't drink.
Do not fear that juices will make your child obese. Fresh juices contain naturally occurring fruit sugar (fructose) that your child's body can easily assimilate. More and more researches and studies have confirmed that there is no association between drinking juice and being obese.Children who drink fresh juices also tend to eat fruits and vegetables. These are the children who have learned healthy eating from a young age and will be healthier in their adult life because of the solid foundation that you have given them.
Avoid letting your child drink packet or canned "juices" that you buy off the shelves or at fast foods. Even if they boast of "real fruit" or "added calcium" or similar labeling, they most likely have only less than 10% real juice. Most of these are laden with sugar, colouring, preservatives, emulsifiers, food stabilizers, etc, chemicals that your kids can do without.
Before you embark on safe juicing for your kids, please be sure that you yourself understand the important lessons about juicing first. Here are some other pointers to bear in mind when juicing for your kids:
- When introducing juices to young kids (under 12 years old) for the first time, always dilute the juices with one part of water (1:1). Concentrated juices are very potent and may not go down well with your child initially.
- Observe your child when you first give her juices to see if she had any pains or diarrhoea or other complaints. If she does, note what fruits or probably amount that may not be suitable for her. Adjust accordingly the next time.
- Give the juice to your child in a cup, never in a bottle. Slow sucking from the bottle will bathe your child's teeth in sugar for longer periods which may corrode their teeth.
- Fruit juices contain sugar and acids that can cause tooth decays. Always give your child another cup of water after drinking juice, to rinse off the excess sugar in her mouth.
- Do not give juices to your child close to meal times. It may deter her from taking her meal as the juice may cause her to feel full. A good time to give your child juices is in the morning, together with her breakfast. Drinking juice with food will slow down the absorption of the juices, thus avoid fluctuations in energy levels. The complex carbohydrates in juices will also provide her energy for many hours in the morning when she is most active.
Some children may like to drink fruit juices because of the sweetness. Even though juices are good for your child, always remember that moderation is best. Hydrate your child throughout the day also with plenty of water.
Top 10 Fruit Juices for Everyone
The top 10 Fruit Juices are well known for their many health benefits...but not all juices are created equal! So, which are the best? Antioxidants voluntarily bond with molecules of oxygen, preventing them from attaching themselves to any other substance in the body, and this action helps to keep us healthy. They can also help lower inflammation and stop the build-up of free radicals, which in turn helps to prevent cancer and heart disease.
Other antioxidants called flavonoids and phenolic acids may help to cut fatty build-up in fat cells, meaning they can help to promote weight loss, especially if you're using fruit juice to replace sugary, fizzy drinks.Fruits with a vivid colour, like most berries, tend to be high in antioxidants, so it's no surprise berry juices landed in a fair percentage of the Top 10 Fruit Juices in the list.
Although the top 10 fruit juices listed here have high levels of antioxidants, it doesn't mean you or your child should consume too much. All fruit juices contain sugar and calories. A lot of juices boast of having no added sugar, but the fruits still contain naturally occurring sugars and these should still only be consumed in moderation.
The Top 10 Fruit Juices are:
- Pomegranate would have to be the healthiest juice your family can drink, due to it containing almost every type of antioxidant, along with the highest levels of each. It is also linked to protecting against certain types of cancer and can help to keep your heart healthy.
Concord Grape Juice
- Concord Grapes are another great source of very powerful antioxidants and are a great source of fibre. There is also research that suggests they can help keep your heart healthy and contribute in reducing blood pressure so this is well worthy of a place on this top 10 fruit juices list.
- Blueberries are another type of fruit that contain a lot of antioxidants. They also hold lots of fibre and are a great source of Vitamin C. The antioxidants found in blueberries can help to lower inflammation, which indicates that they may have a positive effect on age-related declines in cognitive abilities.
Black Cherry Juice
- Black Cherries contain...yep, you guessed it, antioxidants! Once again, high amounts are found in Black Cherry juice. Along with this benefit however, there has also been research that has suggested that they can help to reduce muscle injuries caused by exercising, which would of course be of great benefit to those of us who exercise regularly.
Acai Berry Juice
- Acai Berries are yet another source of powerful antioxidants. There are some reports that say this berry could be the greatest but more research will need to be done on this relatively newly discovered "superfood". Other research also links Acai Berries to increased cancer protection.
- Cranberries are, like the rest of these fruit juices, very high in antioxidants. They are also another good source of Vitamin C. A slightly more unique benefit of cranberries however, is that they've been shown to help slow the build-up of bacteria in the bladder, which can help to protect against urinary tract infections.
- Orange Juice is the most widely consumed fruit juice, and for good reason. It's another juice with high levels of antioxidants and as everybody knows, is packed full of Vitamin C, which is good for your ligaments, tendons, skin, blood vessels and bones. Good old OJ also contains 500mg of potassium in every glass, which helps to maintain your body's water and acid balance.
- The benefits of Apple Juice are only now beginning to be fully understood. Recent studies show a glass a day can help heart health due to a high concentration of phytonutrients, which slow the break down of "bad" LDL cholesterol. Apple Juice is also high in fibre and Vitamin C. When buying Apple Juice it's best to go for the cloudiest you can find.
- Tomato Juice contains phytonutrients including lycopene, beta-carotene, Vitamin E and more. In addition to reducing inflammation, regular consumption of Tomato Juice has been linked to helping to lower blood pressure, and it may even bolster immune function.
- Carrot Juice has one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin A of any food, which can help strengthen defective eyesight. It's a good source of B Vitamins and contains minerals including calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur.
- Remember, it's healthier to eat a fruit, rather than drink the juice, due to the fact the fruit contains less calories and provides much more fiber than the juices can. Drink a glass of fruit juice maybe once or twice a day, while drinking water the rest of the time.
How much fruit juice?
Here's a general guide on how much juice you can give your children in a day, but always trust your own judgment and instinct on how well they are taking it:
- 1 to 3 years old: When your toddlers begin on solid food, do introduce fruits and vegetables in their diet. Start them from young. An example of how you can get your toddler to like a certain fruit: Put a small piece of fruit to her mouth. She may reject it, no problem. Keep giving it to her everyday until she finally eats it. She will learn to like it. Try with a variety. Some good ones to start would be soft fruits like banana, pears, apples, mangoes, tomatoes, avocados, boiled potatoes, etc.
- 4 to 8 years old: Begin introducing juices to your young child with a ¼ cup (about 60ml), dilute with one part water (1:1). When they are rather stable taking juice, you can slowly increase the juice amount, always diluting with one part water.
- 9 to 12 years old: If they are just starting to take juice, start with ½ cup of juice dilute in one part water. When they are seasoned, they can safely take ½ cup neat (about 120ml), without any problem. Do not give them more than ½ cup as it may cause diarrhoea.
- 12 years and above: At this age, they will be able to safely take one cup (about 250 ml) juice neat. However, if they are not used to taking juice, test with smaller amounts first.