Here’s why you should choose a whole fruit over a glass of juice for your child

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Pavithra N Raj, Dietician Executive, Columbia Asia Hospital, Bangalore explains why your child must be consuming whole fruits rather that juices, to get better benefits.

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With the mercury levels rising in the city, it is now time to take that extra precaution not to fall sick during summers. When it comes to children, parents need to take special care this season, since extreme heat can often lead to various health issues in children including loss of appetite leading to a host of health issues.

While sipping in fruit juices throughout the day in order to keep the body hydrated seems to be the best solution, nutritionists harp on the importance of consuming whole fruit rather that juices, to get better benefits. Pavithra N Raj, Dietician Executive, Columbia Asia Hospital, in Yeshwanthpur, Bangalore explains why. 

During the preparation of fruit juices, the fruit is pressed or squeezed and the skin is removed. This often leads to loss of important nutrients, vitamins and fibres like PECTIN present in apple, guava, and oranges, that are essential for your child’s growth. Many fruit juices are also devoid of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B complex vitamins as well as antioxidants which can be important for your child’s growth and development, ”says Pavithra.

Fruits such as watermelon, musk melon, mousambi, and pineapple are high in water content and keeps the body hydrated. Mangoes, lychees, and papaya are also beneficial during the summer season as they are rich in ascorbic acid, Vitamin A and dietary fibres that not only provides natural UV protection but also boosts up the immunity in kids,” she adds.

It is important to consume at least two whole fruits every day. Every category of fruit has different health benefits and parents can choose these fruits accordingly. Pavithra highlights the benefits of consuming whole fruits over fruit juices:

  • Pome fruits: They have antioxidant, antiviral and anti-tumor properties and are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E as well as folic acid. It is important that at least one apple is consumed every day as it provides all the essential vitamins and minerals, the child will require in his growing period. Most popular pome fruits are apples and pears.
  • Citrus fruits: They are high sources of ascorbic acid which is essential to treat low levels of Vitamin C that can otherwise lead to scurvy. It also acts as an antioxidant. Oranges, limes and watermelon are some citrus fruits kids love to eat anytime.
  • Tropical fruits: They are calorie dense and hence are important for your child’s growth and development. Some examples of tropical fruits are bananas, mangoes, and pineapples.
  • Stone fruits:  They are rich in potassium and hence promotes healthy nerves and muscles. They also have antioxidant properties and help in boosting immunity. Apricot, grapes, cherries and plums are some stone fruits that are grown in India.

The edible skins of many fruits have high nutrition value and should not be avoided. The fruit pulp is another important source of fibre and other vital nutrients. For instance, the white pulpy part in orange which is a source of flavonoids is often removed in the process of converting it into juice.

Also, a lot of fruit juices provide empty calories which shoot up blood sugar faster than the whole fruit. Therefore, it is important to include whole fruits in children’s diet to support their proper growth and development.

The summer heat can drain your child’s energy more than you think. Here is a list of fruits that can boost your kids’ energy level almost instantly:

1. Mango: cup full of mango supplies 25% of daily recommended intake of Vitamin A for kids. Also, 150 grams of mango provides about 86 calories.

  • Benefits: It prevents night blindness, burning, itching and dryness of eyes. It helps in promoting smooth digestion, minimizes risk of development of cancer cells and helps in curing anaemia. It boosts RBC count, kids brain function and improves memory
  • Nutritional content: It is rich in digestive enzymes, fibres and antioxidants including mangiferin, norathyriol and resveratrol. Also, it is a good source of glutamic acid and pectin.

2. Watermelon: This is one of the most important fruits that kids should eat during summers as one bite of watermelon contains about 92 % water, decreasing the risk of dehydration in children’s body

  • Benefits: It helps in fighting with free radicals formed in the body and prevents its damage caused to the body cells. It also helps in proper functioning of the body, maintains electrolyte balance and ensures good eyesight. It promotes energy production, optimal neurological functions and proper digestion by stimulating the release of gastric acid
  • Nutritional content: It is loaded with antioxidants and is an excellent source of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. It is also abundant in Vitamin B complex vitamins and Vitamin A

3. Guavas- Since, it can be consumed along with its skin, it has amazing health benefits. For instance, 1 guava provides about 12% of the daily recommended intake of fiber in diet

  • Benefits: It improves immunity, protecting the body against common infections and pathogens. It neutralizes free radicals generated in the body, preventing the growth of cancer cells. It is extremely beneficial for digestive health and boosts eye vision. It also improves blood circulation to the brain, stimulating cognitive function and relaxing the nerves.
  • Nutritional value: It is a rich vitamin C, vitamin A and fibre content namely, pectin, Lycopene, quercitin. Guava contains Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6, also known as niacin and pyridoxine and abundant antioxidants

4. Grapes: Grapes are popular summer fruits which can be consumed as a whole fruit. Frozen grapes that are dipped in yoghurt can be a refreshing summer snack.

  • Benefits: It provides immunity to the body and helps in improving eyesight
  • Nutritional value: It is a good source of vitamin C and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium

5. Cucumber: Including freshly cut cucumbers in diet during summer cools the body and makes kids feel refreshed

  • Benefits: It is a good source of potassium, high on vitamin A, K and C
  • Nutritional value: It helps in controlling blood pressure and is low in calorie

6. Apple: It is the ‘nutritional powerhouse’ which should be eaten as a whole fruit rather converting it into fruit juice for maximum benefit.

  • Benefits: It helps in maintaining RBC count and keeps the nervous system in good health. It prevents formation of cancer cells and improves gut health
  • Nutritional content: It is a rich source of minerals such as potassium, calcium and phosphorous. Also, abundant in ascorbic acid, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. It contains B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamine and Vitamin B6

7. Orange: Include a few pieces of oranges as part of salad for a healthy diet

  • Benefits: It prevents cancer, reduces cancer and maintains blood pressure
  • Nutritional content: Contains calcium, potassium, pectin and vitamin C

Also read: Expert-recommended tips to keep your little ones hydrated this summer

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[Images courtesy: Pixabay]

Family nutrition Health & Wellness Kid Nutrition Kids (4-9 years)