Which WIC juice is the healthiest choice? The juices that are approved for WIC vary from state to state and sadly they often vary from store to store, which can cause confusion and frustration at the checkout line.
I think Juicy Juice is probably the only exception, which makes sense because Juicy Juice is produced by Nestle, which also is WIC’s go-to formula. Of course Nestle lobbyists are going to do their part to make sure Juicy Juice is the go-to juice as well.
But just as breastmilk is better than formula, are there better juice choices available to WIC clients than Nestle’s Juicy Juice? I decided to do a little reading on Juices. Dr. Sears has an excellent easy to read and understand summary about juice (update: the article has recently been taken down).
One thing that Dr. Sears shared on his site that’s helpful is to look at the juice. Generally, the cloudier the juice, the more nutritious it is. If you can see through it, you’re buying mostly water. Picture a tall glass of 100% pure orange juice with pulp. There should be some sediment at the bottom, which is a reminder of the juice’s origins.
Thankfully, WIC covers some very “cloudy” juices. You can buy V8 (or the store brand) with WIC in my state. You can also buy orange juice concentrate and canned pineapple juice. If you want the most nutritional value out of your WIC, then I suggest picking these juices.
Most people tend to get Juicy Juice though. Everyone knows that if you grab a bottle of Juicy Juice it will be taken at the check out line no problem. All the stores know to make sure the cashiers and the scanner machines know to accept Juicy Juice. Because Juicy Juice comes in 12 different flavors, people think getting Juicy Juice is a good way to get a variety of juices.
Sadly, that is far from the truth. Pick up a bottle of Juicy Juice and look at the actual ingredients and it I believe every “flavor” has apple juice as a first ingredient. Some only contain apple juice, others have traces of other juice. If you buy “Kiwi Strawberry” flavor of Juicy Juice you are buying apple juice with a little other flavors of juices thrown in. Apple juice, although easiest on a babies stomach, is not the best juice choice for 2 year olds, 3 year olds, or 4 year olds.
Apple juice (or any of the Juicy Juice flavors since they are mainly apple juice) is probably a good first juice choice for your 6-12 month old IF you decide they would benefit from juice. Although juice really is not NECESSARY for good health at all.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit for infants older than 6 months and children.” So other than the fact that Nestle has its hands deep into the WIC program why else does WIC pay for so much juice for babies, toddlers, young children, and pregnant moms?
We’ll discuss that in tomorrows post.