While fruits are a crucial part of a child’s healthy diet, not all fruits especially when consumed in excess may be good for them. One reason is some types of fruit contain more sugar than others.
“Whole, fresh fruit contains natural sugars, along with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that are vital to health,” dietician Jillian Kubala, M.S., R.D., tellsPopsugar. “The issue with fruit is not the sugar content per se, it’s the amount of fruit that is consumed and how the fruit is processed.”
High-sugar fruits for kids
According to Kubala, fruits that contain more than the desired amount of sugar include mangoes, bananas, cherries, and grapes. She tellsPopsugar, “Although fresh fruit is a perfect, healthy snack for children and adults, attention should be paid to portion sizes and the total amount of fruit being consumed throughout the day. Since bananas and grapes (halved, of course) are toddler favorites, it’s important to keep moderation in mind.”
Kubala also cautions parents against allowing their kids to consume too much dried or canned fruit. “Dried fruits are condensed, which means they contain more sugar per serving than fresh fruit. Similarly, canned fruits in heavy syrup are loaded with sugar.”
She continues that moderation is essential for parents who want to feed their children dried or canned fruit occasionally.
“Dried fruit can make a perfectly healthy snack for children,” Kubala says. “I always tell parents to dole out a portion of their kid’s favorite dried fruit and mix it with a serving of nuts or seeds for a boost of healthy fat and protein.”
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Fruit juice and smoothies, even when it says 100%, tend to contain a lot of sugar. These are okay to drink as treats, but it should not be consumed daily, according to Kubala.
The good news is there are other yummy fruits that don’t have a lot of sugar. These types include papaya, watermelon, blackberries, raspberries, kiwi, and grapefruit, says Kubala. According toGood Housekeeping, other options are strawberries, apples, oranges, and avocados. Some of these fruits also have other great nutrients: oranges and strawberries contain vitamin C, raspberries contain fiber, and blackberries contain both fiber and protein, making them even better options for kids to eat every day.
Again, while these fruits may be low in sugar, eat in moderation. Good Housekeeping suggests that the appropriate serving size for grapefruit is only one-half, which contains just 8 grams of sugar.
How much fruit your child needs every day
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides recommendations for correct food portions for children between ages 1 and 10 years. For fruits, here are the AAP’s guidelines:
1 to 3 years old: ¼ cup of cooked, frozen, or canned fruit; ½ piece of fresh fruit; ¼ cup of 100% juice
4 to 6 years old: ¼ cup of cooked, frozen, or canned fruit; ½ piece of fresh fruit; 1/3 cup of 100% juice
7 to 10 years old: 1/3 cup of cooked, frozen, or canned fruit; 1 piece of fresh fruit; ½ cup of 100% juice
The AAP also has suggestions parents can do to make fruits a part of their children’s daily diet. One is serving fresh fruits as snacks and keeping them washed, cut up, and in plain sight of the children. If the child has more access to healthy foods like fruit than sweet snacks or salty chips, he may be more likely to consume it regularly.
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Another suggestion by the AAP is giving their kids at least one vitamin C-rich fruit each day. Examples of vitamin C-rich fruits are strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, and melons. Finally, don’t forget to be a role model and allow your child to see you eat healthy (and enjoy it) every day.