TV Nutritionist Shares Best and Worst Kids Drinks

Best drinks for kids: plain and flavored milk, water, whole-fruit smoothie

Tess Rafols and Michelle Dudash, RD on 3TV Talking Best and Worst Kids Drinks

While parents make the effort to slide more fruits and vegetables into their children’s lunch boxes, choosing healthy beverages can often be overlooked or downright confusing. This weekend I stopped by Good Morning Arizona on 3TV with Tess Rafols to share the best and worst in kid’s drinks.

Best drinks for kids: plain and flavored milk, water, whole-fruit smoothie

1. Best: Drink daily

Still or sparkling water

Most people older than age one should be mostly drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Add lime, lemon, or orange slices for added flavor.

White nonfat or lowfat milk

The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that kids consume up to three 8-ounce servings of milk or milk equivalents daily. All milk, including flavored milk, is packed with 9 essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium and vitamin D, which the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) identified as three out of four “nutrients of concern.”

Chocolate nonfat milk

I work closely with MilkPEP and am excited to announce how over the past 5 years, the average calories in school chocolate milk have declined by more than 21% and sugars have been cut dramatically by 40%. And on average, school flavored milk now has only 132 calories per serving.

Smoothies made with whole fruit

Okay kids drinks: select juices like 100% concord grape juice, sports drinks, coconut water

2. Okay: Limit to drinking occasionally

100% fruit juice like orange, pineapple, and dark purple concord grape

While whole fruit is the better choice over juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting (not to be confused with requiring) 100% fruit juice to 4-6 ounces per day for 1-6 year olds and 8-12 ounces per day for 7-18 year olds. For youngsters, make a little go a long way by diluting it with water. Citrus and concord grape juice have a better nutrition profile compared to apple juice.

Further, the DGAs state:

“Although 100% fruit juice can be part of a healthful diet, it lacks dietary fiber and when consumed in excess can contribute to extra calories. The majority of the fruit recommendation should come from whole fruits…”

Sports drinks

For children exercising for one hour or longer, a sports drink is an acceptable beverage for use during a sporting event. Otherwise, sports drinks are unnecessary and should be limited. Post-exercise, a balanced meal with water or milk offers a more nutrient-rich choice.

Sparkling juices

Read the label closely and look for those with no added sugar, which contain only fruit juice and sparkling water.

Worst kids drinks: Made with little or no fruit juice, all or mostly added sugars

3. Worst: Drink as little as possible

These drinks, as well as sports drinks, contribute close to half of the added sugar in American’s diets, offering little nutritional value.

Sweetened, flavored waters “for kids” and other fruity drinks (Capri Sun Roaring Waters, Honest, Sobe)

Most or all of the calories derive from added sugar, with little or no fruit juice.

Juice cocktails, juice drinks, and juice beverages

These contain mostly added refined sugar and little or no fruit juice.

Soda and energy drinks

All 140-150 calories in one can of soda come from added sugar and without vitamins, minerals and other nutrients kids need. Many sodas contain caffeine, making younger children especially susceptible to jitteriness and disrupted sleep times.

TV nutritionist Michelle Dudash, RD on 3TV Good Morning Arizona

Me getting ready to go on air. Smile!


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