Juicing for kids is one of the smartest things you can do as a parent. How so, you ask? Simply because fresh fruit and vegetables juices that are freshly extracted from whole, raw produce is one of the best nutritional gifts you can give your child on a daily basis.
Unlike store-bought juices, fresh juice contains natural fruit sugars that your child’s body can assimilate and use as energy rather than the artificial sweeteners (and the coloring, preservatives, and food stabilizers) found in store-bought juice.
Whereas a regular diet of store-bought juice can lead to childhood obesity (those “fresh” store juices are ridiculously high in sugar content) and cavities, fresh fruits and vegetable juices provide more nutritional value than the natural sugar content they may contain and are densely packed with vitamins, minerals, and living enzymes that will boost your child’s immune system, provide a wealth of needed nutrition for development, and will help develop your child’s appetite for fresh, whole foods – a habit that will serve him or her for a lifetime.
And the benefits of juicing for kids don’t stop there…
10 Benefits of Juicing for Kids
Still wondering if you should share the joys of juicing with your kids? Yes, I know that juicer machine is expensive and yes, your 6-year-old might break everything he touches, but I’m still going to give juicing for kids a resounding YES!
Juicing with your kids is an awesome experience and it comes with a bevy of benefits – both for you and your children. Let’s dive into them in detail.
Here’s 10 reasons to convince you to go ahead and start juicing with your kids!
#1. Juicing is Really, Really Fun
When’s the last time you marveled at the miracle that is your juicer machine? I mean, you feed it chunks of whole apple and it spews out golden liquid. You toss in some pieces of incredibly-hard beetroot and it hands you a beautifully scarlet juice.
It’s practically magic! And while you might not be so impressed – your kids will be. I’ll never forget the moment I introduced my juicer machine to my little nephew. He was absolutely transfixed. He wanted to feed the celery into the chute. He wanted to taste what came out. He wanted to know if it could do it in reverse.
And then I caught him trying to make “candle juice” and learned a very important lesson.
Lesson learned: Don’t ever leave kids unattended with the juicer machine. When done using, put it waaaay out of the reach of curious fingers.
#2. They May Not Eat It, But They’ll Drink It
It’s a funny phenomenon – kids will drink veggies that they normally wouldn’t touch with their fork. I don’t know a single child who’d bite eagerly into a beetroot but I’ve seen kids readily sip at a delicious beetroot-carrot-apple juice. And look happy about it!
Juicing is also a wonderfully useful way to disguise veggies. You can juice infamously-hated foods like brussels sprouts with tastier fruits and veggies and marvel as your kid eagerly downs the glass.
#3. Juicing Provides a Great “Gateway” to Developing a Taste for Veggies
I don’t think anyone really likes the taste of vegetable juice, at least not in the beginning. But the interesting thing about juicing veggies (which should be the majority of what you juice, if you’re juicing for health) is that you acclimatize.
When you first start juicing with your kids, you’ll want to use plenty of fruit to mask the taste of vegetable juices. But over time, you’ll find that you can slowly reduce the fruit portion and your kid will not mind. That’s the funny thing about taste buds – they get used to anything!
You might even find that your kid starts craving some of the veggies you’ve been juicing 🙂
#4. An Easy Way to Make Sure Your Kids Get Ample Fresh Fruits & Veggies
Juicing is the easiest way to ensure your kids are getting a healthy heap of fresh fruits and veggies. While your kids may not want to sit down and finish off an entire salad, they won’t mind downing a glass of juice full of nutrients and enzymes from various fruits and veggies.
No fuss. No muss. And lots of fresh produce consumed.
#5. Fresh-Made Juice Trumps Store-Bought Juice in Every Way
It’s no secret that store-bought juice brands are not the all-natural, fresh wonder juices they’re advertised to be. In fact, only 44% of fruit drinks contain any actual fruit juice! And sure, juices are fortified with vitamins but they’re also very heavy on the sugar content – meaning we’re really not doing kids any favors by feeding them store-bought juices.
Did you know that for every 8-oz. sugary drink per day, a child’s odds of obesity increase 60%?
And store-bought fruit juices are the worst kind of ‘sugary drink.’ In fact, the 16 most sugary beverages on the market are all fruit drinks. Take Snapple’s apple juice, for example – that little 8-oz. serving contains 27 grams of sugar. That’s more than the sugar content in the same serving of Coca-Cola. Apparently, Snapple – you know, the “Made from the Best Stuff on Earth” company – believes sugar is the best stuff on earth.
#6. Creates Healthy Eating Habits
Eating habits are learned behaviors and what your kids learn to eat at home early in life will stick with them and influence their dietary habits well into adulthood.
Get them while they’re young!
#7. Juicing is an Easy Way to Teach Your Kids About Real Food
I’m a city girl, born and raised. And I lived with the unquestioned assumption that food comes from the supermarket. Of course I intellectually knew that food was grown somewhere, but it didn’t really hit me – like really hit me – that real food comes from real, living things ’til I was in my 20s.
I don’t think I’m the only one. The truth is that processed, packaged foods are a lot more common than real food. According to the Huffington Post, as much as 70% of our food is processed.
The result? People who’ll eat foods containing ingredients like Blue No.1 or Butylated Hydroxyanisole without batting an eye but wonder what exactly a kohlrabi or a yuca is.
Juicing is a great way to encourage your kids to learn about real food through touch and taste and encourage them to appreciate the tastes of nature.
#8. Juicing Teaches Food Smarts
Juicing opens up a whole new world of taste opportunity since you don’t have to worry about things like how to properly prepare any of the produce you want to try. You can simply juice it.
This means you and your kids are going to be experimenting with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. And experimentation always involves exploration and learning.
When you approach juicing with kids from this mindset, juicing becomes a really fun learning adventure for both you and your kids. The produce section at the local supermarket becomes a fun outing. A visit to the local farmer’s market turns into a day of exploration. And in the process, your kids will naturally learn so much about various types of food and the benefits of eating a diverse array of fruits and vegetables – knowledge that will serve them for a lifetime.
#9. Sparks Curiosity and Encourages Hands-On Learning
Children are curious creatures and they tend to enjoy hands-on activities, especially if those are activities that they see adults doing.
Take cooking, for example. I consider it mostly a chore since I have to do it every day, but when I taught kindergarten, my students’ favorite time of the week was “cooking” day when they got to things like make batter and crack eggs. It’s weird, but children seem to find grown-up chores quite fun to do.
Juicing allows kids a chance to indulge their natural curiosity and get involved in some hands-on learning. You can have your kids do simple preparation like washing the produce and de-stemming strawberries – which they’ll doubly enjoy if you let them use some fun kitchen tools. It gives them something new and fun to do and helps them learn in the process!
#10. The Perfect Way to Spend Time With Your Kids
And the most important reason you should juice with your kids is that juicing is an awesome way to spend fun, interactive, stress-free quality time with your children. From exploring various produce aisles to prepping and juicing the actual fruits and veggies, juicing is a great way to laugh and play with your kids!
But Is Juicing for Kids Nutritious?
You already know fresh fruits and veggies are good for kids. But let’s deep dive in and find out exactly why juicing can be a very nutritious addition to your child’s daily diet.
Children have slightly different nutritional requirements for every development stage in their lives, but overall – it’s important they receive the proper nutrition to help them grow into strong, healthy adults. For the most part, it’s fair to say that children’s nutritional needs are greater than those of an adult because of the rapid growth and development they’re undergoing.
What children eat when they are young will impact them for the rest of their lives so it’s important that you take advantage of their younger years to provide them with and get them used to consuming whole foods with rich nutritional content.
What Nutritional Needs Do Kids Have?
Here’s a list of the must-have, essential nutrients your kids need – as well as the best food sources for each vital nutrient. Some of these foods should be eaten in solid form but there are also many that can be juiced so that your child can receive the maximum amount of nutrients per serving.
We associate vitamin A with good vision, but that’s not all it’s good for – it helps in the development of healthy skin, teeth, mucous membranes, and skeletal and soft tissue. Make sure your kids are getting ample vitamin A with foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, dark leafy greens, and cantaloupe.
The B vitamin group is composed of eight vitamins which are essential for energy production. These include B6, B12, riboflavin, folate, thiamin, biotin, pantothenic acid, and niacin. A lack of the B vitamins in your child’s diet can lead to anemia.
The good news is that B vitamins can be found in most of the food groups. Foods falling under this category of vitamins include fish, chicken, whole grains, meat , dairy, and leafy greens.
If your kids have been on a diet of processed foods, they may be lacking in vitamin B6, since the processing of foods results in the loss of vitamin B6. Make sure they get plenty by giving them avocados, carrots, eggs, fish, spinach, walnuts, and adding in healthy supplements like wheat germ and brewer’s yeast to their meals and juices.
Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that helps protect your child against infections and viruses. Besides decreasing the chances of contracting colds and flus, this vitamin accelerates the healing process for scrapes and other cuts your child may suffer.
Your child’s body does not store this vitamin so it needs to be supplied on a regular basis through food sources such as berries, oranges, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries – all of which are rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin D works hand in hand with calcium for the development of strong bones and teeth. Children should consume vitamin D rich foods on a daily basis.
Vitamin D can be obtained from the sun’s UV rays and in foods such as tuna, eggs, cereal, and fortified milk.
We all know calcium plays a crucial part in building strong bones and teeth for your child. Make sure your kids are receiving sufficient calcium for a variety of sources such as broccoli, leafy greens, eggs, beans, lentils, as well as nuts and seeds.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
EFAs are super duper important for proper growth but our bodies cannot make these. They must be regularly provided for through the proper foods. The best sources for EFAs is through healthy oils such as olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, and flaxseeds oil.
You can also get EFAs from nuts and seeds as well as through one of my smoothie favorites: avocados.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are also wonderful sources of EFAs.
Iron is crucial in your child’s diet since it helps in the production of hemoglobin in your child’s body. The red blood cells in the body contain hemoglobin which transports oxygen throughout the body. And an iron deficiency can easily lead to conditions like anemia, which results in constant fatigue and even light-headedness.
I struggled with this in my teenage years, wondering the whole time why I was feeling so ridiculously tired. It turns out that iron deficiency is quite common for teenage girls – make sure your teenage girls are getting enough iron, especially is they have already started their menstruation cycle since iron can be depleted each month from menstruation.
Great food sources for iron are oysters, seaweed, asparagus, eggs, fish, leafy greens, prunes, raisins, and whole grains.
Magnesium is often a under-looked nutrient but it is so, so important. Magnesium is found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body, which are responsible for everything from the proper formation of bones and teeth and regulation of blood sugar levels to the promotion of proper bowel function and the creation of ATP (the energy molecules of your body).
Considering how important magnesium is to the proper function of so many of your bodily processes, an estimated 80% of Americans are reported to be deficient in this important mineral.
Make sure your kids are getting enough through nutritious food sources such as almonds, tofu, brown rice, and seaweed, as well as healthy supplements like ground flaxseed and raw, unsweetened cacao – both of which can easily be added to healthy smoothies.
Potassium is essential for your child’s body to function effectively. It plays an important role in digestion, heart health, and bone formation. Sweet potatoes, bananas, low-fat yogurt, white beans, and skim milk are all rich in potassium.
Zinc is often associated with beauty, since it helps your body grow healthy skin, hair and nails. But that’s not all it does – zinc also supports your immune system so it can ward off viruses and bacteria, as well as acting as a detoxifier to remove excess amounts of carbon dioxide from the body. This mineral also helps in the production of protein and DNA in the body.
Great sources of zinc include whole grains, oysters, carrots, peas, oatmeal, and nuts, as well as my personal juice and smoothie add-on favorite: wheat germ.
How Does Juicing for Kids Help?
There are several benefits that your child can reap from juicing on a regular basis. Fruit juices are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Juices without additives contain more vitamins and calcium which promotes the development of your child’s growing body.
Besides its high nutrient content, juices help your child to stay hydrated. This is especially beneficial for active children.
Juicing helps promote a healthy system as well as maintain energy levels and concentration required for your child’s maximum performance.
In a study conducted by the University of California-Davis, it was found that juicing reduced the risk of developing chronic diseases. Drinking pomegranate, citrus, apple, grape, and cranberry juices were beneficial in reducing urinary tract infections and certain cancers.
Another study conducted by the same university also found that adults and children who drank an eight-ounce glass of vegetable juice everyday received twice the amount of vegetable servings per day than those who didn’t consume a vegetable juice.
Consuming a diet rich in vitamins A, B, C, and D, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and the other vitamins and nutrients above is essential to your child’s overall health and wellbeing. While some of these foods may be eaten in solid form, there are a few that can be juiced so that your child can receive the maximum amount of nutrients per serving.
5 Crucial Tips on Juicing for Kids
Okay, you already know that juicing with kids is an easy, fun way to introduce your children to the benefits of healthy eating and inspire good habits that will last for a lifetime.
But before you get started on the fun, rewarding journey of juicing with your kids, here are a few tips and pointers that’ll help you and your child get the most out of your juicing experience – think of it as a smart, simple guide to juicing for kids!
“Safety precautions” makes it sound pretty serious, but it’s really not. This is just to take into the consideration the fact that children have more sensitive bodies than we do and that the utmost care should be taken when we embark on anything that will affect their nutrition and health.
These “precautions” include things like making sure to use organic produce. Sure, it might be costlier, but juice is essentially a concentrated extract of whole foods and it is good practice to make sure you’re not giving your child a concentrated form of bad stuff – i.e. pesticides – along with the good stuff.
Water it Down
Especially for younger children, it is a very good idea to dilute fresh juices with water. Again, fresh juice is concentrated and very potent so water it down with good ole’ H2O.
It’s also a good idea to follow up fresh fruit juice with another glass of water. Fresh fruit juices contain natural fruit sugars and sugars always come with the possibility of tooth decay, so that extra glass of water at the end is a good way to both rinse your child’s mouth of sugar and provide extra hydration.
Keep it Simple
When you’re juicing for kids, you want to start off with just a handful of fruits and vegetables and then slowly branch out from there.
This will allow you to see how your child’s body reacts to the fruits and vegetables and whether they are totally fine or too potent for your child. Stay away from juicing vegetables and herbs that have strong diuretic, detoxification, or heating properties as they can be too intense for your child’s digestive system.
Fruits are fine. Most vegetables are great, but stay away from juicing strong veggies like garlic, onion, chili peppers, and stick to the less intense leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage, and microgreens – especially with younger children.
As for herbs – it’s best to shy away from juicing these with your kids ’til they’re older. As yummy as herbs like ginger and turmeric are, they’re a little too intense for kids.
Moderation is Key
Kids will like fresh fruit juice. Who doesn’t, after all? It’s sweet and delicious.
But too much sugar – even natural fruit sugar – is not a good thing, so make sure you’re not overdoing the sugar content in the juice you’re giving your child. Our advice is to keep it to a ratio of 60% vegetables and 40% fruit per juice and to limit that to 1 or 2 cups a day.
You can stretch this to 3 to 4 cups per day by diluting the juice 1:1 with water and storing it in an air-tight jar in the fridge to give you child at regular intervals throughout the day.
You might have to start with a slightly higher percentage of fruit in order to get your child accustomed to the taste of vegetables juices, but do not start by giving them pure, 100% fruit juice.
Get into the habit of adding vegetables to all fruit juices and it’ll be that much easier for your kids to expect that as the norm.
Juice is Not a Complete Meal
You already know this, but it must be included anyway: juice is not a complete diet, especially for growing, developing children and your kids need a lot more than the vitamins and minerals that fresh juice can offer.
Make sure that fresh juice is only a supplement to your children’s diet, rather than a key player. Use it to boost your child’s daily consumption of vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes, but always keep in mind that children need a much more varied nutritional profile.
Also, avoid giving your child fresh juice during meals as fresh juice digests much, much quicker than solid food and taking both at the same time can result in indigestion.
And as always, happy juicing!