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Juice that Packs a Punch

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A visit from the Jolly Tomato parents prompted this question: What foods did we used to eat as kids that we would never serve to our own kids now? In our house the answer is probably a little bit skewed because Ma Tomato made sure that we had just about the healthiest home-grown, home-cooked diet of anyone we knew. But one thing we certainly remember doing that seems like such a no-no now is drinking lots and lots of juice. We’re talking Kool-Aid, Hawaiian Punch, and just about any combination of sugar and color and water that you can imagine.

These days, we don’t offer many drinks to our kids except water or milk and the occasional watered-down organic juice as a treat. But we’re intrigued by the juices we keep getting offered at various running races and fitness events. Should we make exceptions to the rule for something like acai juice or pomegranate juice?

Experts say, if you’re going to drink juice at all, limit it to one glass a day and make it pomegranate juice, which is high in vitamins and antioxidants despite the sugar and calories. Additionally, pomegranates are showing promise to have additional long-term health benefits.

The acai berry, hailing from South America, has not been studied as completely. However, it appears to have higher levels of antioxidants than most other berries, even the perennial powerhouse blueberries. Is it the new miracle fruit? We’ll reserve judgment on that for now; with the note that like pomegranates, you need to add quite a bit of sugar to the juice to make most kids like it.

When all is said and done, you still aren’t going to want your kids to drink juice in place of the fruit they should be eating. Even if you only serve the most nutritious juices at your house, you should still limit your kids to a glass a day, and make sure they get their nutrients and fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables. But if you’re feeling crazy, by all means give some new juices a try. Any amount you can mix things up a little bit, especially for the pickiest eaters, is a sign of progress.

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