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Fruit juice may be part of your morning breakfast routine, but some argue that even the natural sugar found in 100 percent juice, is partially responsible for the obesity epidemic and the debilitating diseases that may follow. But does the fruits' healthy vitamins and antioxidants trump any negative influences it may have on our bodies?

Natural and/or added sugars may be found in the foods and beverages we consume. Whole fruit contains natural sugars, as do nutritious vegetables and dairy products. One hundred percent fruit juice will contain sugar, but only natural sugar. Juice that is not labeled as 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice will include added sugars such as, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glucose or sucrose. Added sugars account for 16 percent of total calories in Americans' diets, and half of these sugars come from sweetened beverages like soda, energy drinks and "fruit drinks." Diets high in added sugars can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides.

Although 100 percent fruit juice contains only natural sugars, our bodies cannot actually differentiate between natural and added sugars. Some fruit juices contain as much or more sugar than regular soda, making it not that much nutritionally different. While 100 percent juice may contain vitamin C, potassium, and fortified nutrients like calcium, whole fruit offers these benefits and more, including fiber, which promotes a feeling of fullness, slows down digestion and reduces blood sugar spikes (commonly seen with fruit juice.)

Just like any liquid beverage, fruit juice may easily be over-consumed. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults have no more than ½ to 1 ¼ cups (4 to 10 ounces) of fruit juice per day. For children ages 1 to 6 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 to 6 ounces of fruit juice per day and 8 to 12 ounces for children ages 7 to 12 years. As long as children are offered whole fruits and nutritious milk, it's okay to not make juice an everyday occurrence.

Layered Raspberry Peach Smoothie Printable PDF

Raspberry Layer
1 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/2 medium banana
1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup ice

Peach Layer
1 cup frozen unsweetened peaches
1/2 medium banana
1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup ice

Place raspberry ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide and pour into two glasses. Rinse out blender. Place peach ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide and pour on top of raspberry layers. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutritional Facts per serving: 200 calories, 1 gram fat, 35 milligrams sodium, 43 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 8 grams protein