Does an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

According to the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

However, today that adage seems to apply only to the fruit and not the juice form.  A new study found high levels of arsenic in some popular juice brands including Minute Maid, Welch’s and Tropicana.

After testing 88 samples of apple and grape juice found on  grocery store shelves, Consumer Reports magazine found that 10%  had total  arsenic levels that exceeded US federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb), the same threshold for the European Union. Futhermore, most of the  arsenic detected is a type known as inorganic, a human carcinogen that’s been  linked to bladder, lung and skin cancer and immunodeficiencies.  The investigation also found that 25% of the samples had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water  limit of 5 ppb.

Because its loaded in calories (in some cases more than soda), health experts feel apple juice’s real danger is to waistlines and children’s teeth.  Parents are advised to limit their child’s juice consumption, not only for arsenic levels but for dietary and nutritional reasons. Infants under six months should not be given any type  of juice, while children up to six years old should consume no more than four to six ounces — or less than a cup — a day. Diluting juice with distilled or  purified water is also recommended.

“Juice is basically sweet water,”  said Dr. Jerome Paulson, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics council on environmental health. “Kids are better off getting the vitamins from the fruit or vegetable itself because then they get some
additional nutrients like vitamins or fibers,” he said.

If you or your family drinks juice, here is some advice from nutrition experts:

—Choose a juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D-3.

—Give children only pasteurized juice — that’s the only type safe from germs that can cause serious disease.

—Don’t give juice before 6 months of age, and never put it in bottles or covered cups that allow babies and children to consume it throughout the day, which can cause tooth decay. For the same reason, don’t give infants juice at bedtime.

—Encourage kids to eat fruit.

—Don’t be swayed by healthy-sounding label claims. “No sugar added” doesn’t mean it isn’t full of naturally occurring sugar. And “cholesterol-free” is silly — only animal products contain cholesterol.

The full report is featured in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports  magazine and a chart that identifies total arsenic levels can be found at  www.ConsumerReports.org/juicebox.

Will you allow your family to continue drinking apple juice? 

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Lainie Gutterman - Before giving birth to her son in 2009 and becoming a stay-at-home mom, Lainie was a founding partner of a Public Relations firm. Lainie describes herself as "a natural born publicist who is constantly spreading the word about new products, activities and events." When Lainie is not chasing after her son or they are not watching Nick Jr or reading together, she scrapbooks and writes posts for her blog, "Me, Myself & Baby I" at http://memyselfandbabyi.wordpress.com. Lainie and her family live in New York City, where she sacrifices living space (but not style) to be in the center of it all in "the city that never sleeps." (Fortunately, her toddler is a sound sleeper who doesn't rise until after 9am, on most days.)

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