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Are fruit juices on a daily basis good for children?

Q: I have two kids, one is 8 months old and the other is 3 years old. I have been giving them fruit juices on a daily basis during noon, because it’s very hot. But, my mother insists that fruits can cause phlegm in children and shouldn't be fed daily. However, I never make it concentrated, instead I mix them with milk to make it into a fruit milkshake. Is it ok if I give them daily or is my mother right and should I restrict it?

A:Under most circumstances, children don't need any fruit juice or other sweet drinks to have a balanced and healthy diet. As juice comes from fresh fruit, it is easy to believe it is a healthy food that is full of nutrients. However, juice has no nutritional advantage over whole or pureed fruit. Infact, since juice doesn't contain fibre, its actually less nutritious than fruit. Also, fruit juices do not contain a significant amount of protein, fat, minerals or vitamins, other than Vitamin C. The problem is that some children drink inappropriately large amounts of juice. One of the main problems with drinking too much juice is that it is filling and will decrease your child’s appetite for other more nutritious foods. While your child will still get a lot of calories, they will mostly be from sugars or carbohydrates, and not from fat or protein, which can contribute to a poorly balanced diet. Moreover, drinking too much juice can lead to kids becoming overweight, having poor eating habits, tummy troubles and getting a lot of cavities. Many children often prefer fruit juice to water or fresh fruit because juice tastes better to them. And many parents see no problem with allowing their children to drink lot of juice, since juice is promoted as a good source of nutrition. However, this doesn't mean that juice is a totally bad food. It isn't. Fruit juice can be a healthy part of a child’s diet, if used appropriately. The message is not that children should not drink fruit juice but that the amount be appropriate. Moreover, instead of juice, children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits. In case you need to give beverages or foodstuffs to beat the heat you can give your children cold milk flavoured with bournvita or milo, yogurt, lassi, nimbu pani, fresh fruit juice (though not very often), chilled fruit, cold custard as well as plain drinking water.

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