Taste Test: Juice Boxes

by in Back to School, Grocery Shopping, Taste Test, August 23, 2012

apple juice
With all the so-called “healthy” messages on juice boxes, it’s tough to decipher which is really the best choice for your little ones. We’ve tasted and anylized popular juices so you’ll be better informed on your next trip to the market.

Juicy Guidelines
Even if you’re giving your kids 100% juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:

  • 1 to 6 years: Limit juice to 4 to 6 fluid ounces per day
  • 7 to 18 years: Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day

Remember, fruit juice shouldn’t be used as a substitute for whole fruit. There are no nutritional benefits of drinking juice over whole fruit. It’s important to stick to the AAP guidelines as too much juice in your kiddos’ diet can lead to obesity, poor nutrition and tooth decay.

When shopping for juice, not all boxes are created equal and not all markets are stocked with the same brands. You want to look for those that are made from 100% juice as opposed to mostly sugar + water. Size also matters—for kids 6 and under, opt for the smallest (4.23 fluid-ounce) box whenever possible.

The Criteria
For this taste test, we rated juice boxes based on taste, ingredients, portion size and nutritional information—specifically sugar and vitamin C. We chose apple juices and rated them on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). Since these are marketed towards kids, our kids got in on the tasting action.

Apple & Eve
Rating: 5.0
Cost: $0.10 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories; 12 grams sugar; 100% vitamin C
Our Take: This is the only juice that lists 100% juice as the first ingredient (as opposed to water and juice concentrate). It also has the least amount of sugar while providing 100% vitamin C and 10% calcium too. The Sesame Street characters on the boxes are also a big hit with the little ones.

Minute Maid
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $0.06 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories; 14 grams sugar; 100% vitamin C
Our Take: The first 2 ingredients are filtered water and concentrated apple juice, but it also contains 100% vitamin C. Unfortunately, we did discover that not all markets carry the smaller 4.23 fluid-ounce size.

Juicy Juice
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $0.07 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories; 14 grams sugar; 100% vitamin C
Our Take: The ingredient list includes ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C and accounts for the fact that it has 100% of the daily recommended amount for the vitamin. The 4.23 and 6.75 fluid ounce boxes are available—but opt for the smaller one whenever possible.

Motts
Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.09 per 4.23 fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces):  60 calories; 14 grams sugar; 20% vitamin C
Our Take:  Water is the first ingredient listed as is ascorbic acid (AKA vitamin C)—although it only provides 20% of the daily recommendation. This juice box comes in 4.23 and 6.75 fluid ounce sizes.

Capri Sun
Rating: 2.5
Cost: $0.06 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per 6-fluid ounces):  80 calories; 20 grams sugar; 0% vitamin C
Our Take: We chose the 100% juice variety as opposed to Original Capri Sun made with high fructose corn syrup. The 6- fluid ounce portions meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for juice. Water and apple juice concentrate are the first 2 ingredients listed and it provides no vitamin C.

TELL US: What’s your favorite juice box?

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