Juice Boxes: Are They Healthy?

Juice boxes are a convenient choice to pack in your kids’ lunchboxes, but are they really healthy?

Photo by: Kathy Dewar ©Kathy Dewar

Kathy Dewar, Kathy Dewar

Now that the kids are back in school, making sure they have plenty to drink is always on parents’ to-do list. Juice boxes are a popular beverage to pack into your little ones’ lunchboxes, but are they really a healthy choice?
YES?

Those small-sized juice boxes are convenient. Plus, according to USDA’s Choose My Plate website, 100 percent juice can count towards your daily recommended servings of fruit. Many juices also contain 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of the antioxidant vitamin C, a nutrient that kids could use more of.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, juice recommendations for kids are as follows:

  • Ages 1 to 6 years: Limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces per day.
  • Ages 7 to 10 years: Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day.

Many juice boxes marketed to kids are sold as 4.23 or 6.75 fluid ounces, making it easy for kids to stick with these guidelines.

NO?

Some parents may believe that juice can take the place of fruit, but that isn’t the case. The AAP states that fruit juice doesn’t have nutritional benefits over whole fruit. They promote whole fruit, with its fiber and other nutrients, over juice. Giving in to your kiddos’ requests to drink multiple juice boxes per day will just fill their bellies with mostly water, sugar, some vitamin C and not much else.

Further, not all juices marketed to kids contain 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, which just means you’re serving your child pure added sugar.

The Bottom Line:

Juice boxes can absolutely be part of a well-balanced diet for kids. However, make sure your kids consume 100 percent juice and no more than the maximum recommended amount per day. To see how your favorite boxed juice stacked up, check out our taste test.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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