Children can be a bit picky when it comes to eating healthy. Parents almost have to be detectives and sly when incorporating healthy foods that their children enjoy. Parents may allow their children a treat or dessert, such as ice cream or candy once in a while and may gravitate toward the fruit snack because it sounds so healthy and it has fruit in its name. Not so fast, let’s understand the facts.
It is important to understand that fruit snacks are not a fruit substitute and have been classified by nutritionists as being slightly better than gummies. Many fruit snacks are artificially flavored and packed with added sugars and artificial colors and have little to no vitamin content. Many of these snacks have corn syrup and sugar as their first ingredients and a high sugar content per serving.
Over the past decade, parents and health groups have raised their concerns over the deceptive marketing of these snacks as fruit. As a result, some companies have been improving their ingredients and new companies have been debuting their more nutritious versions. Some brands are made with only dried fruit or fruit puree as their first ingredient. Others have reduced the sugar content per serving and some only use natural and organic flavoring rather than food dyes. All fruit snacks are inherently lower in calories, low in sodium and free from fat or cholesterol, but so are chewy candies like gummy bears. Some fruit snacks even make the School Nutrition Guidelines’ cut for vending machines based on real fruit being the first ingredient and sugar, calorie and sodium content being under a specified level.
Bottom line — a fruit, such as an apple or pear, is a fruit and a fruit snack is a pre-packaged snack. If you opt to allow your child to have an occasional fruit snack please review the nutritional label and make an informed decision.
Sample of Fruit Snacks and Nutritional Information:
|Brand||Serving Size||Calories||Total Carbs||Total Sugar||First Ingredient||Organic?||Other?|
|Annie’s Homegrown Fruit Snacks||23g||70||18||10g (no added sugar)||Organic Tapioca Syrup||Yes||No food dyes|
|Welch’s Fruit Snacks||25.5g||80||19||11g (includes 9g added sugar)||Fruit Puree||No||Vitamins|
|Welch’s reduced sugar Fruit Snacks||22.7g||60||17||7g (includes 5g added sugar)||Fruit Puree||No||Vitamins|
|That’s It Fruit Bar||35g||100||27||23g (no added sugar)||Only Apples and Mangos||Vitamins, Fiber|
|Yum Earth Fruit Snacks||30g||100||24||19g (all added sugars)||Organic Rice Syrup||Yes||No|
|Stretch Island Fruit leather||14g||50||12||10g (no added sugar)||Fruit Puree||No||Fiber|
|Fruit Rolls Bear||20g||60||13||8g (no added sugars)||Fruit||No||Iron and Fiber|