One of the foods that you will rarely find in my home is fruit juice. We are not allergic to fruit juice. The stuff we used to drink was always the best organic pure juice. While I think that it can be OK to drink small quantities of juice with meals on special occasions, there is a reason your pediatrician is telling you not to give your children apple juice.
Apple juice really does have as much sugar as cola.
Here is the math.
Twelve ounces of cola (so served without ice) contains 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrates all of which are sugars. It contains no fiber and no protein and no nutrients. That sugar tends to be high fructose corn syrup which is mostly fructose but also contains glucose. You can check this fact here
Now to get the USDA database to give me an adjusted quantity of 12 ounces so that I was comparing apples to apples (ha ha) I had to modify the ounces part of the database. This led to some unattractive spillover links. So I am apologizing for those in advance. They are messy but they allow you to easily check my facts so I left them in.
Twelve ounces of apple juice (again without ice) contains 170 calories and 40 grams of sugar. It also contains virtually no fiber and no protein. It does however contain nutrients including potassium, about 8% of your daily intake for iron, and lesser but still meaningful amounts of phosphorus, vitamin C and vitamin B6. You can check this for yourself here
Grape juice contains 230 calories per 12 ounces and a whopping 54 grams of sugar. It does contain 2 grams of protein and even gets six calories from fat (who knew?) It also doesn’t contain more than 10% of any of the major nutrients.
Twelve ounces of orange juice is somewhat better with 180 calories, but only 30 grams of
sugar. It also has 3 grams of protein, one gram of fiber and a lot of nutrients. I do allow orange juice from time to time because of all the folate, naturally occurring vitamin C, protein and other nutrients, but I limit the portion size. The details are available here.
To give you an idea of just how much sugar this actually is, a teaspoon of table sugar contains about 15 calories and weighs about 4 grams. Now fructose has fewer calories per gram than sucrose, and most fruit is largely fructose so this is a bit off but it is reasonable to say that twelve ounces of apple juice contains about the equivalent of 9 to 11 teaspoons of sugar. The orange juice is about 10 teaspoons and the grape juice contains about 14 teaspoons of sugar.
When was the last time you got a twelve ounce Starbucks coffee with eleven teaspoons of sugar in it?
I am happy to have my child eat as much whole fruit as he wants to eat. Whole fruit contains pectin and fiber to slow down the absorption of the sugars which taxes the pancreas much less and provides a more steady supply of sugar to the brain, which genuinely needs some sugars.
Sugars are not all bad. Your brain runs on glucose and sugar exists in whole fruit and root vegetables. We do need sugars in our diets, but I personally want to get a lot more fun or a lot more nutrition out of my sugar allowance.
If I am going to eat that much sugar, I want chocolate to be involved.