Coconut is having a bit of a moment, isn’t it? We’ve used creamed or dessicated coconut in our cooking and baking for years. More recently I started using fresh coconut milk on my cereal instead of cows’ milk. I actually prefer it. Cows’ milk tastes a bit weird to me now. I see more and more people talking about the benefits of pressed coconut oil for all manner of skin ailments. And a few years ago, loads of celebrities were conspicuously papped with their trendy bottles of coconut water. Coconut is fast becoming the health conscious person’s go-to ingredient.
So when the folk at Vita Coco asked me to try out their new kids’ range of drinks cartons, I was an eager beaver. They contain a blend of coconut water and fruit juice. They sent me a good selection in two different flavours: mango and pineapple, and apple and blackcurrant.
I am a parent who worries about the amount of juice and squash my kids drink. They will drink milk quite happily, and my eldest has a water bottle that she takes to school. But they much prefer squash or diluted juice at home, which I feel I have to ration because of the amount of sugar these drinks contain. On the plus side, my three year-old never has fizzy drinks. My eight year-old will only have a small glass on orangeade or lemonade on special occasions. They never have cola or coffee. My eldest sometimes has a weak cup of tea with one sugar before bed.
As well as sugar, I am very conscious about the amount of products marketed at children that contain aspartame or other artificial sweeteners. I avoid these at all costs. I would rather buy a product with added sugar than added sweeteners. Almost all squashes and ‘fruit juice drinks’ (these are not the same as pure fruit juice) seem to have sweeteners added. It’s very hard to find ones that don’t. So I stick with pure fruit juice or hi-juice squash. Even then, some hi-juices have sweeteners so I have to check the label. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s own brands are both free from artificial sweeteners.
I digress slightly but I was keen to try the Vita Coco Kids range on my two girls and to compare it with the drinks I already offer them.
Immediately, they found the packaging more appealing. My youngest demanded the ‘purple monkey juice’ and my eldest already seemed to recognise the brand and knew the jingle from the TV advert!
They are the perfect size for lunchboxes but I received my bundle just in time for the Easter holidays and it was very easy to throw a couple of cartons into my bag as we headed for a day out.
I decided to do a little comparison. Vita Coco Kids versus the pure juice cartons I use in my eldest’s lunchbox and the hi-juice squash I use at home. On the plus side, none of these three products contain any added refined sugars or artificial sweeteners.
The pure undiluted pineapple juice had the highest sugar content with 11.9g per 100ml. I was quite shocked that this tiny 200ml carton contained almost 24g of sugar! I guess one positive is that this one serving counts towards one of their five-a-day. But, despite the fact they are naturally occurring fruit sugars, there’s no denying that it’s not great for their teeth to have that much sugar.
Second was the Waitrose hi-juice orange squash, with 9.1g per 100ml. Again this seems an awful lot BUT you only use a tiny bit of this diluted with lots of water, so perhaps it’s not all that bad. But it doesn’t really contain anything that’s nutritionally beneficial for growing bodies.
The Vita Coco Kids drink came out top with just 5g of sugar per 100ml. This means there are 9g in this 180ml carton. It also contains naturally occurring potassium, which is great for hydration. You can also freeze the cartons in the summer and snip the top off for a healthier push-up ice lolly.
Admittedly plain water will always be the best option for my kids’ main source of hydration. But for my eldest child’s lunchbox carton, I’m seriously considering switching to Vita Coco Kids. It appeals to her, tastes great, and has less sugar than the pure undiluted fruit juice cartons.
Vita Coco Kids has produced this handy Sugar Maze graphic to help you navigate the minefield of children’s drinks:
I was not paid for this post. I was sent some free samples of Vita Coco Kids drinks in exchange for an honesthonest review.