Always under pressure to sell more and grow (hey it’s the American way!), they now present us with a new line of juice that will turn our tiny tots into little Einsteins. From the Washington Post Blog:
A big blue banner across the front of the package screams, “Brain Development,” while the smaller type just above the banner says, “DHA — A Building Block for”…
Imagine the eager moms and dads who’ll grab that Juicy Juice in hopes of making their kids just that much smarter. DHA, derived from fatty fish and other omega-3 fatty-acid-rich food sources, is indeed credited with promoting neurological health among babies, and it’s been added to many infant formulas for nearly a decade, though there’s no real science showing that DHA makes anyone smarter.
We decided to take a look under the hood…
What you need to know:
Nutritionally, these and other fruit drinks are closer to Coca Cola than to an apple or a bunch of grapes. This product is basically watered down apple juice, made from concentrate, with a few more additives and fish oil.
The juice is geared for young children, so a serving size is defined as 4 fl oz. In return for the tiny amounts of fish oil, your baby gets 10 grams of sugar (TWO and a HALF teaspoons), and 0 grams of fiber. She also gets 100% of the daily value of vitamin C, added as Ascorbic acid and not occurring naturally. And if she drinks the juice in a sippy cups, you’re going to start getting dentist bills as well very soon!
Here is the ingredient list:
APPLE JUICE (WATER, JUICE CONCENTRATE), WATER, AND LESS THAN 0.5% OF PECTIN, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), FISH OIL (TUNA) [A SOURCE OF OMEGA-3], MALIC ACID, GELLAN GUM.
Juice concentrate is made by crushing the apples to get their juice, and then removing as much water as possible in order to concentrate it. It is cheaper to store and transport concentrate than juice. Nutritionally, both juice and concentrate are inferior to the original fruit, as pasteurization breaks down many of the nutrients. That’s why vitamins are sometimes added to juice. Fiber is perhaps the best example of a lost nutrient.
Pectin (E440) - derived from apples and other fruits. Found in and between a plant’s cell walls and used to regulate water flow in and out of cells. In food, used as a gelling agent, thickening agent and stabilizer.
Malic acid (E296) - provides tartness.
Gelan gum (E418) – a sugar produced by Sphingomonas elodea, a bacterium. Used as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer.
Why add thickeners to juice? Perhaps to create a richer “mouth feel” or let you imagine the fruit better.
What to do at the supermarket:
The most nutritious way to enjoy fruits is in their natural state. Even young toddlers can enjoy a mashed banana or a strained apple that were made in 30 seconds at home.
The best advice dentists and pediatricians give parents is to get toddlers used to drinking water, and to drink often.
We agree. Leave the sugar allowance to fruits and edible sweets that no doubt your child will discover soon enough.
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