Snacks: Healthy or not?

Fruit – the good snacks.

Snacks can be a great way to keep your body going and blood sugar levels stable. Fruits and vegetables make great snack choices. Fruit snacks are a popular choice and are plentiful on the shelves of grocery stores. The packaging can be colorful and possibly feature cartoon characters that children are familiar with.

Currently the nutrition industry is putting polices into place that will not allow foods to be marketed to children. These food items are often placed at the eye level of children to encourage children to ask for them. They often are named “fruit,” may say “vitamin C” and may show pictures of fruit to encourage a healthy choice.

Reading the label on any snack package is key to seeing what nutrients it may contain. Keep in mind the first ingredient on the list is the one that has the largest concentration. Here is an example of what a snack ingredient list looks like:

“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.”

Alternative snack choices with vitamin C and other nutrients can be found in many sources of fruit without added corn syrup and sugar. Children can have fruit – such as apples, pears, oranges, bananas, blueberries, etc. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, bananas are rich in potassium; oranges are rich in vitamin C, mangos with vitamin K and C and pears with potassium.

Fruit can be accessed easily by children and can be cost effective for parents. Dried fruits can also make a great snack that can be easy to carry and store well. Because they are dried, one-quarter cup is equivalent to one-half cup of normal fruit. Raspberries and plums are in season and great for the month of August.

Keep a package of dried fruit in your bag. Some fruits that are available dried include: Apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, figs, dates, cranberries, blueberries, prunes (dried plums) and raisins (dried grapes). Here is a great way to incorporate more fruit into your diet just follow the link.

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to find new ways you can incorporate fruit into your meals.

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