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Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 1997

TOO MUCH FRUIT JUICE PUTS CHILDREN AT RISK FOR HEALTH WOES

September 10, 1997

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Cooking Q&A with Susan Krumm

Can a child get too much fruit juice?

Fruit juice is a healthy beverage, providing calories while being low in fat and high in vitamin C and some minerals. However, several studies published recently have contended that fruit juice consumption in large amounts could be harmful for young children.

In a study conducted in upstate New York, reported in January, seven-day food records of 2- and 5-year-old children were studied along with their height and weight. Children consuming 12 ounces or more of juice per day were more likely to be shorter and heavier than children consuming less fruit juice. Similarly, a 1994 study in New York pointed to excessive intake of fruit juice as a contributing factor in eight cases of non-organic failure to thrive in 1- and 2-year-olds.

For infants, tooth decay resulting from feeding juice in nursing bottles acting as pacifiers is a recognized health concern. High consumption of fruit juice can also result in gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.

In addition, fruit juice does not help children meet recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables. Despite this, children from 2 to 18 years old are consuming 50 percent of their fruit recommendations as juices; for preschoolers, juice accounts for a third of their fruit and vegetable intake. However, juice does not offer all the benefits of whole foods, such as fiber.

Even more important, the increase in fruit juice intake has been paralleled by a decrease in milk intake. This is a concern since milk is the best source for calcium and children are not meeting recommendations for calcium. The cause of the failure to thrive in children consuming large amounts of fruit juice could be the displacement of more nutrient-dense foods such as milk. In other children consuming an already adequate diet, fruit juice could be providing unneeded calories, leading to obesity.

The thought that "if a little of something is good, then a lot must be better," is not true of fruit juice. The recommendation for parents and caregivers is to limit the amounts of fruit juice consumed by children to less than 12 ounces a day.

I enjoy making muffins and quick breads, but many of the recipes are high in fat. What cooking techniques can I use to make them healthier?

There are several methods you can use to make your muffins, pancakes and quick breads healthier. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of oil in all breads. Usually no more than one tablespoon of oil per loaf is necessary. Pizza dough, French breads and bagels can be made without any fat.
  • The oil in pancakes can be reduced by at least half. A nonstick skillet will be a big help when cooking low-fat pancakes and French toast.
  • Reduce sodium very gradually in baked goods (1/4-teaspoon at a time). Since baking soda and baking powder contain sodium, the amount of salt in any recipe can easily be reduced by half over time.
  • The amount of sugar can be reduced by at least half in all standard recipes -- this will not affect texture of the final product.
  • When a recipe calls for milk, always use skim milk or some other nonfat substitute such as buttermilk, evaporated skim milk or nonfat yogurt.
  • In recipes that call for buttermilk, use the powdered variety. The powder can be mixed into the dry ingredients and then water added with the wet ingredients.
  • Use egg substitute or two egg whites for whole eggs in all recipes. (However, if a recipe calls for four whole eggs, do not use eight egg whites -- just use four to six egg whites plus some other additional liquid such as juice or milk. One-eighth cup equals one egg white or one egg yolk).
  • When cutting back on the amount of sugar in a recipe, increase the amount of flavoring or spice used up to twice as much. For example: Use two teaspoons of vanilla extract when the recipe calls for one.
  • At least half of the white all-purpose flour in most recipes can be replaced with whole wheat or other whole grain flours. This will make your baked goods more nutritious.
  • Most standard muffin recipes require less oil than called for. One-fourth cup per 3-1/2 to 4 cups of flour is usually more than enough. If the recipe includes fruit, it will be moist.
  • Use a little butter flavoring in baked goods that demand a buttery taste.
  • When making low-fat muffins, never put batter in paper baking cups -- spray the muffin tins with vegetable cooking spray.
  • Consider making double batches of muffins, pancakes and waffles and freeze them individually for quick, healthy breakfasts (heat in the microwave).
  • If a recipe calls for applesauce, other pureed fruits can be substituted for variety -- by merely changing the fruit and the companion flavoring, you can make a completely different muffin. Some options are peaches plus almond, pear with ginger, and bananas with lemon.
  • Do not overbake oat bran muffins -- they dry easily. Follow the recipe's baking time and temperature exactly.
  • Blackstrap molasses is much higher in iron than regular molasses. It can be substituted for honey and is particularly tasty in bran muffins. But don't go overboard -- blackstrap molasses has a stronger flavor then regular molasses.
  • Pay attention to the consistency of muffin batter when you have altered a recipe. It should not be thinner or thicker than the original recipe. If it is different, add more flour or liquid until proper consistency is achieved. (However, muffins made with oat bran with no flour added have a thin consistency -- the excess moisture is absorbed when the muffins bake.)

-- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in home economics and consumer science with K-State Research & Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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