Fruit snacks seem to be the dominant trend in the market right now. We find packets of fruit snacks neatly stacked up everywhere, claiming to be the “healthiest snack option” for everyone, especially children. So the question is, are fruit snacks healthy; therefore, it is crucial to investigate whether fruit snacks really are that healthy or another marketing trick at play.
First, What are Fruit Snacks?
In layman terms, we can say that a fruit snack is a sweet confectionery snack targeting children as their prime consumers. As they fall under the category of ‘confectionery snacks’, it’s pretty clear they are rich in sugar. However, with the current popularity of fruit snacks, it appears that they are perceived as a healthy snack option for all.
Are Fruit Snacks Healthy?
Often, it is through the front of pack visuals and advertising persuasion that we build our opinions about a particular product. Checking the ingredient list and doing our own research about the nutritional value of a food product is time consuming, tedious and inconvenient. However, this makes it easier for marketing agencies and food production companies to manipulate their visuals and make their product appear healthy.
A research article that talks about Front of Pack Visuals and their influence on the perception of the nutritional value of snacks have also shown that “Overall participants illustrated that realistic visuals such as pictures of “real” fruit made the product seem healthier than other fruit snack options.” So we know then that appearances are deceptive. Let us now try to deconstruct this idea of fruit snacks being healthy and examine what hides behind the natural-looking, attractive packaging.
Also Read: There is no good or bad time to eat fruits. Raw fruits are perfectly healthy for children as well as adults to consume.
Ingredients in Fruit Snacks
When our question is are fruit snacks healthy, then knowing about their ingredients should be our first job. The primary major ingredient in any fruit snack is always sugar. Fruit snacks contain over 50% of sugar by weight. While the exact number may vary according to companies and manufacturing practices, fruit snacks are still sugar-filled confections disguised as fruits. It is advised that parents must exercise the same caution with fruit snacks as they would with any other sugary snack food item. Apart from sugar, fruit snacks may also contain artificial flavours, colours, fruit extracts, and other sweeteners.
What about Natural Fruit Snacks?
Some fruit snacks claim to be free from any artificial chemicals or added flavours. However, the top ingredient of such snacks is also sugar. Various amounts of research have proven the ill effects of excessive sugar consumption on the health and wellness of young children. Therefore, fruit snacks cannot be considered as a healthy alternative to a meal, regardless of whether they are natural or not.
All in all, most ingredients in fruit snacks can be extremely unhealthy if consumed in high quantities. However, these are fun little delights for kids to enjoy in their childhood. It is important to understand that while fruit snacks might be permissible to consume occasionally, they surely cannot replace a meal in a healthy, balanced diet.
How to Make Fruit Snacks – Homemade Fruit Snacks
Now that we have seen the health concerns surrounding fruit snacks and have decided that allowing children to indulge in these treats occasionally is a good way to go, and for that, we might want to make some fruit snacks at home. Here are some quick ideas that you can experiment with to allow your kids to enjoy their favourite fruit snacks from their home kitchen! After all, preparing and enjoying a homemade snack brings fun experiences for kids as well as parents.
- Fruit gummies
- Chocolate covered fruits
- Fruit and sugar candy
- Fruit cakes
- Fortified milk and fruit popsicles
- Fruit strips
An Easy Recipe for Fruit Snacks
- Some moulds
- Fresh fruits of your choice
Steps to follow:
- Gently chop up all the fruits you have. You can segregate them by colour while you do this so that you can have a variety of coloured fruit snacks.
- Blend these pieces of fruit in a blender or food processor.
- Heat the pan, add the fruit mixture, gelatin, and sugar, and cook till it is silky smooth.
- As the mixture begins to thicken, stop heating and immediately fill in the moulds before the mixture completely thickens.
- Refrigerate these moulds and when they are sufficiently cooled, take out your fruit snacks from the moulds and enjoy!
Supervising Children’s Consumption of Snacks
We all want our children to grow up with the best possible health habits. It is with this very sentiment that we encourage them to consume fresh and healthy foods. However, while doing so, it is important to be mindful and aware. Children absorb information from the adults around them and us, starting at a very young age. If we as adults label certain foods as ‘good’ and certain foods as ‘bad’, our children begin emulating those concepts. This develops a skewed relationship with food. They experience a lot of shame and guilt if they desire to consume the ‘bad’ labelled foods, which can give rise to mental distress and physical illness.
In order to develop a healthy relationship with food for our children, we need to teach them to balance. This needs to be reflected in our everyday habits, where we do not look at food only for the calories and nutrients, but also for ways in which food nourishes us, builds our community and culture, and how food allows us to bond as human beings. Being mindful of what we eat and making space for indulgences is an influential art that we need to pass on to our children, be it fruit snacks or any other indulgence.
In conclusion to our curiosity are fruit snacks healthy, we can say that they are definitely not the most nutritious meal choice for our children. But they are also delightful pleasures for their innocent world. We as caregivers need to maintain the balance and make space for their colourful delights in the midst of healthy fruits and vegetables.
Also Read: You can prepare delicious fruity mocktails with different healthy fruits to enjoy in the evening for a refreshing mood