Did you know that the average American consumes around 22g (6 teaspoons) of added sugar each day? The average teenager consumes 34 grams (9 teaspoons)! As a “healthy” reference, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 5g of sugar per day for a teenager. While the sugar content and potentially damaging effects of sodas and other sweetened drinks has gained attention recently, Americans still consume alarmingly high amounts of added sugar and don’t appear to be slowing down.
Many families, however, are heeding the advice of health professionals and limiting their consumption of sodas and sugar-added drinks. A popular alternative is fruit juices and smoothies. What many people don’t realize is that many juices and smoothies contain up to 13g of sugar; that’s more than a typical 12 oz. soda. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against giving juice of any kind to children under 6 months old, and limiting children age 1-6 to no more than 6 oz. per day.
So, what can be done to curb your family’s sugar intake? First, consider offering whole fruits and vegetables instead of juices. Whole fruit has a higher fiber content than juice, and there is evidence that it is easier for the body to metabolize. If you are going to serve juice, consider diluting it with water, and try to choose juices that do not have added sweeteners.