Are gummy bears healthier than fruit snacks?
A food labeled as fat free with no preservatives added containing 100-percent vitamin C with real fruit may sound pretty healthy, but that may not be the case.
Eighty-five percent of fruit snacks sold in the United Kingdom contained more sugar than gummy bears, according to a new study. Some had 14.6 grams of sugar in just one serving compared to just 7 grams in a serving of strawberries.
Fruit snacks are not the only high-sugar offender, according to the study. Custard coated raisins and yogurt covered strawberries were also high in sugar.
In place of fruit snacks, Barbara Fine, a registered dietician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill, recommends children eat fresh fruits and vegetables such as carrots with hummus, peanut butter on an apple, all natural granola bars or low fat yogurt.
“Reading the ingredient list is a great way to determine the health of fruit snacks and other foods,” says Fine. “Look for ones that do not have any artificial colors and flavors, one with the least amount of ingredients and made from real fruit, usually organic brands are the way to go.”
Fruit snack packaging often claims to offer one serving of fruit inside, but researchers call this “grossly misleading packaging.”
“Parents find it hard enough to know what is ‘healthy’ without food manufacturers confusing matters with misleading claims,” said Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar, in a news release. “Whole, unprocessed fruit is healthier than processed fruit snacks and fruit juice drinks, as it contains vitamins, minerals, water and fiber, and does not cause the devastating tooth decay we see in young children today.”
Fine says parents should also encourage their kids to eat fresh fruit instead of drinking juice when possible.
“A lot of parents think juice is healthy especially if it is made from fresh fruit, no added sugars or fresh squeezed orange juice,” Fine says. “There is so much nutrition and fiber in the skin of fruits and more of a full feeling from eating foods, chewing than drinking and swallowing. Also, just because a snack food is organic does not mean it is healthy.”
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