Nutritional Boost? - You may want to avoid Fruit Juice and Smoothies

A fruit smoothie or a big cup of fruit juice may seem like the ideal way to get kids to consume their ideal daily dose of fruit, but the high sugar content in most smoothies and fruit juices are much more harmful to children's teeth than you may realize.

As most of us know, sugar is a major cause of tooth decay. In addition, children drinking processed juices are not receiving the healthy fiber that comes from whole fruits.

Fruit juice tends to have high amounts of sugar, even if you're buying brands that advertise 'no sugar added.'

This is because crushing fruits to make juice, as opposed to chewing, releases more of the natural sugars inside. Some fruit juices contain even more sugar than sweet desserts; cherries, grapes and pomegranates are among fruits with the highest sugar content. To lower your child's sugar consumption while still allowing juice as a tasty treat, look for juices made with lemon, lime, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries. You can also add water to your child's juice to lessen the amount of sugar they receive with each serving. Try gradually diluting the juice with more and more water over time; this method can save both tooth enamel and money in the long run!

Smoothies from restaurants or smoothie shops usually have sugar added on top of all the natural sugar found in the fruits they use.

It may seem like a healthy indulgence when you see all the piles of whole fruit behind the counter, but don't be fooled. If you and your kids want a smoothie while out and about, request that they hold the added sugar, honey or sweetened yogurt that may go in to the blender- most smoothie shops have the ingredients of each offering listed on their menu board. On the other hand, a homemade smoothie can actually be a great source of nutrients as long as you're using the ideal ingredients and limiting consumption to once a day. Smoothies are also a fantastic way to sneak vegetables in to your kids' diet that they may not normally touch- spinach, carrots and zucchini can all be blended in with fruit smoothies without making them taste overly 'green' or, as a child might so delicately put it, 'yucky.' Skim milk or unsweetened yogurt will give your smoothie a creamy texture, while crushed ice will make more of a slushy texture.

Regardless of the methods you choose to limit your household's sugar intake, there are a few things to remember. When your children do consume juice or smoothies, have them drink through a straw. This will give their teeth minimal contact with the sugary drinks, and extra-wide straws can be found at the grocery for those smoothies with nice big chunks of fruit and veggies inside. Also, limit the amount of juices and sugary drinks that kids have in between meals- try to have them drink water or milk between mealtimes so they're limiting the amount of time their teeth are exposed to the sugars in juice.

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