Not every snack on the market that boasts a health-friendly slogan is good for your child. In fact, most prepackaged snacks are full of sugar and preservatives. The following snacks aren’t actually good for your kids and should be avoided.
- Apple Sauce
While applesauce offers fiber and vitamins, it may not always be the best snack for your child. One serving of Mott's original applesauce contains 22 grams of sugar, for instance. The BJC School Outreach and Youth Development recommends children consume 12 grams of sugar a day. If your child loves applesauce, buy unsweetened brands and avoid products with corn syrup in the ingredients. Or you can make your own all natural apple sauce at home.
Yogurt is another misleading snack since it is often advertised as low in fat, a source of calcium and protein, and full of beneficial bacteria that improves digestion. However, not all brands are the same, and some yogurts have added sugar, use artificial flavors, and don’t contain active, live cultures. Avoid yogurt with fruit on the bottom of the container since those products tend to contain more sugar. Look for yogurt with the National Yogurt Association's Live & Active Cultures seal on a product, which guarantees the yogurt contains live cultures.
- Fruit Snacks
Fruit roll ups and fruit leathers are a popular snack among children because they’re sweet, delicious, and offered in multiple colors and flavors. While they bear the word fruit in their name, they are not nutritious. The University of Texas San Antonio claims that some fruit roll ups or fruit leather snacks don't contain real fruit and don't contain enough vitamins for your child. Replace these with fresh fruit to make sure your kids are getting some real benefits.
- Trail Mix
Trail mix can be a healthy and fun snack for your child, but be wary of the ingredients in prepackaged brands. Some products contain pretzels and M&M candy among the fruits, nuts, and seeds. These candies, along with fruits such as raisins, banana chips, and dried apricots can make the snack high in sugar, calories, and fat. For healthier alternatives, look for trail mix with unsalted nuts and products that don't contain any candy, or make your own mixture for the best results.
- Cereal and Granola Bars
Finally, cereal and granola bars are another favorite food that is often believed to healthy and full of fiber and protein. However, most brands are high in sugar because they contain corn syrup and artificial flavors instead of real fruit. They are high in calories, low in protein, and may not have much nutritional value. If you must get these for your child, purchase low fat and low sugar bars made with whole grains, or make your own at home.