Is This A Healthy Snack Food?

August 16, 2010   19 Comments

There is an entire portion of an aisle in your supermarket devoted to "fruit snacks". If you don't have kids, you might have missed it.

Are Fruit Snacks a Healthy Snack?

The packages on the shelves feature Sponge Bob, Scooby Doo, and beautiful photos of fruit. My kids leap out of the cart trying to get me to buy them these snacks.

Are packaged fruit snacks a healthy snack food?

The key here is that molded, shaped, colored food indicates that these are candy. Here is an example ingredient list:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fruit Juice from Concentrate (Pear, Apple), Gelatin, Sorbitol, Malic Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Mineral Oil (Adds a Dietarily Insignificant Amount of Fat), Corn Oil (Adds a Dietarily Insignificant Amount of Fat), Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Carnauba Wax (Adds a Dietarily Insignificant Amount of Fat), Vitamin A Palmitate, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Yellow 5

Parents desperately want these to be a healthy choice (yep, me too!) but they are just candy masquerading as healthy snack food.

The packaging will say things like "All Natural" and "100% daily allowance of Vitamin C" - but do not be fooled! These fruit snacks are essentially Gummy Bears with added Vitamin C.

AND, you have to think about your kids' teeth. I recently spoke to a pediatric dentist about these snacks. She says that the sugar in these tends to stick to the teeth and cause tooth decay.

Kids are not the most efficient at brushing their teeth, so this type of food (sticky and sweet) can cause many cavities.

My advice is to hand these out at Halloween with the other candy, serve them as a treat, and stick to REAL fruit as a healthy snack.

There are fruit snacks that are comprised of only fruit and fruit juice concentrate. These are better than some, but still are a sticky sweet product. They can't compare to fruit as a healthy snack food.

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not sure they can be classed as a healthy snack in the end they might have some fruit juice but its the sugar that is in them that makes them bad for you teeth so therefore bad for your general health

I tell my clients, if it was not pulled from the ground, a bush, or a tree, it's not real fruit. Another trick for quick lunches, teach your kid to use a cutting board and a small knife. Hand them some fruit and a container. My daughter begs to use the apple slicer. Better yet, stick with fruits like grapes or plums that just need to be washed off.

It is easy to make your own fruit snacks out of real fruit sans added garbage. There are some on the market made like this as well. There is an issue for children who eat like this on a daily basis but I see nothing wrong with them having whole fruit, all natural fruit snacks with nothing added. So yes fruit snacks can come off the bush or tree and put in a blender or saucepan then then oven. We all love whole fruit (my 3 year olds favorite foods are carrots, celery and apples) but I assure you I do not want that all the time, sometimes I just want something different and that is okay.


You mention dental health! Congratulations, after conducting thousands of hours of research about diet, health, and lifestyle, I was dismayed to learn that no one (and I mean no one) mentions dental health.

Since changing my diet, I have saved hundreds of dollars. My frequent dentist visits have stopped.

Thanks for mentioning dental health.

Ken Leebow

This is why I LOVE Annie's Organic Fruit Snacks - they are made with REAL ingredients and fruit juice - IMO - the best alternative to the candy snacks. If you haven't checked them out, you should. They sell them at Costco, Whole Foods and several stores all around :)

The ones I looked at had MINERAL OIL as an ingredient.. YUCK!

I love that you show them in B&W - they are a lot more appealing looking in technicolor!

ugh! My kids love these, but I quit buying them a while back. I had found a brand that I liked...Florida's Naturals I think? They were 66% real fruit, no HFCS, artificial flavors or colors, I think. I can't remember b/c they are no longer sold at the ONE store in my area that had them!! Figures! I need to look into making them myself, but my kids are crazy about fruit "leathers". They'll just have to eat the real thing. and then I have to worry about if it's organic!

Florida's Natural still isn't good. Think, it says

"natural" on the packaging and also look at the massive ingredient list.

so glad to read this! i made the same analogy of these things with gummy bears! oy vey, i say. i also want to thank you for highlighting the dental issues -- these things stick to teeth and are quite problematic, yes? related question: what do you think of dried fruit? seems like that poses the same teeth trouble because of how it can stick.

Clif Kids Twisted Fruit is an excellent all-natural brand -- but the best fruit snack is ... actual fruit! Clementines, anyone?

That's it. fruit bars are a great alternative!

Well.... kids miss out too much. Let a kid ha

I think that natural gummy snacks are a great alternative to fatty, junk food!

That's the reason I avoided fruit snacks. It ain't healthy at all. It's in essence candy with Vitamin C. I still have temptation to eat it, but I simply won't eat it. You make a good point from what I read.

Hi! This really helped me understand why fruit snacks arent really a healthy snack. Im a teenager, and I am desperately trying to find healthy alternatives to potato chips and other junk.

I gave my kids fruit snacks all the time and thought that they were healthly. But then I read this story and stpoed giving them it.

Any "gummy" candy or snack is bad for the teeth! Even all natural ingredients and organic fruit snacks are bad. If they are are sticky, it is some sort of sugar holding them together. I work at a pediatric dental office and we have 2-6 year olds coming in with mouths full of decay, needing "baby root canals" and removal of teeth. Even gummy vitamins are bad.

I agree 100 % , I work in a school readiness program and have tried teaching this to parents with limited success. They want quick and easy and don't want to spend money on fresh fruit! Any parent education resources?

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