Sweet as? Not always for drinks
Fruit juices and a Heart Foundation tick are not always guides to a healthy beverage.
A teaspoon of sugar supposedly helps the medicine go down, but some of the most popular drinks contain massive amounts of the sweet stuff.
While most parents are aware that fizzy drinks are full of sugar, they may be shocked to hear how much is sneaking its way into their childrens' diets through seemingly healthy drinks.
Apple juice is often offered as a healthy alternative to Coke, and on the front of many juices is a statement reading "No added sugar" but reading the label on the back of the bottle will tell a different tale.
In a 600ml Coke, you will find 16 teaspoons of sugar. In one litre of apple juice, the sugar content is up to 25 teaspoons. Nutritionist Andrea Kane said that made it difficult for people to determine what exactly a "healthy" drink was. Water was the best option for an everyday drink.
As part of the Food for Thought programme, she has been travelling throughout the upper North Island talking to Year 5 and 6 students about nutrition and the importance of healthy eating, including what exactly makes their juice so sweet.
"They always know about Coke and V being really bad for them, but they don't realise that there is sugar in fruit," Ms Kane.
Children were "really receptive" to the information, and many were astounded when they learned how much sugar was in their drinks, she said.
A common misconception was that anything with a Heart Foundation tick was deemed "healthy". That simply was not the case, as sugar content was not part of the criteria for the tick.
"It's really difficult for people to know because everyone talks in calories, when in New Zealand we deal with kilojoules so it's confusing, and then when something like chocolate milk has a Heart Foundation tick . . . they think it's going to be really healthy," Miss Kane said.
When the Heart Foundation granted flavoured milk products the right to display their tick, they looked at the energy, sodium, calcium and fat levels in products, Heart Foundation Tick manager Deb Sue said.
"With chocolate milk and flavoured milk the tick would determine the healthiest option in the flavoured milk category," Mrs Sue said.
Another difficulty parents faced was variations between serving size. A 600ml bottle of Primo chocolate milk is labelled as containing three servings, whereas this measure of Coke is only one serving.
But if people were looking for a ‘treat drink' Miss Kane said it was best to go with a flavoured milk because at least the children would be getting a calcium fix.
Miss Kane also warned of the danger of looking at sports drinks, such as Powerade, as healthy. "Those are designed for athletes. It's not for kids or lazy adults. I always tell the kids they would have to run around the field for an entire hour at their fastest speed for them to burn the energy," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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