The Hidden Dangers in 'Healthy' Kids' Snacks

The Hidden Dangers in 'Healthy' Kids' Snacks
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The Hidden Dangers in 'Healthy' Kids' Snacks

Read on to learn about the hidden unhealthy ingredients in kids' snacks.

Sugar Content

Check the sugar content. Organic sugar is still sugar.

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Sticky and Starchy Snacks Contribute to Cavities.

Avoid sticky snacks, like fruit chews and dried fruit, as well as starchy foods like chips and fries. They will attach to the teeth and contribute to cavity formation.

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Don't Save

If your child is going to have a sugary snack, better to have one she eats all at once, like a candy bar, than one she picks at over a longer period of time. The longer the food is in the mouth, the greater potential for the sugar to turn to decay, forming acid.

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Calorie Content

Check the calorie content. If you are concerned about your child’s weight, remember there are just as many calories in an organic cupcake as in a Hostess.

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Fat Content

Look at the fat content. Even if your child is thin, getting them used to fat-laden foods may haunt them later in life. While there are different types of fats, don’t get hung up too much on the detail. Buy foods naturally low in all fats.

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Fruit Juice Is Deceptively Caloric.

100% fruit juices look nutritious but they are extremely high in calories. Children aged 1-6 should have only 4-6 ounces of juice a day. You can double this amount for kids aged 7-18.

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Avoid Dyes

Bright reds and neon blues are attractive to kids, but synthetic food dyes, at the very least, have no nutritional value, and at the worst, can be harmful. Avoid them when you can. As a rule, I try to steer my kids clear of strange colored foods.

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Avoid Organic Cane Syrup

Organic cane syrup sounds harmless, doesn’t it? But, many experts will tell you cane syrup is as bad for your health as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). They are both boiled down sugars, and even if future research reveals HFCS is worse, it still doesn’t make cane syrup a vegetable.

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Moderation is the key. You don’t have to take an all or nothing approach. When my boys begged for the multi-colored, Monster Inc. fruit snacks, I got one box. They finished them over the course of a few days, and I haven’t bought them since. (Here's a tip. Don't take the kids shopping with you if you don't want to buy junk.) The important thing is to remember junk food is junk food no matter what the box says. You can let your family indulge occasionally, but snack foods, “healthy” or otherwise, should not take the place of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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I have to admit, I actually feel like a better mom when I buy snacks for my kids in packages touting organic ingredients, real fruit juice and a year's supply of vitamins and minerals. "Healthy" snacks may well be a better choice than ultra-processed foods like chips and cookies, but just like all consumer products, they are packaged to sell. Don't be lulled into a false sense of confidence by phrases like "all natural", "organic" and "simply." I liken this to the trap my college roommates and I fell into the semester we all needed to drop 8 pounds. We ended up gaining 10. Fat Free foods were a new fad and we bought in ... hook, line and sinker. Instead of eating one or two delicious fat-filled cookies, we'd eat the whole fat-free box. Bad idea. The same goes for kids' snacks claiming to be healthy. While an organic chip may be healthier, you still shouldn't let them eat the whole bag.

Check out the slideshow above to learn about the unhealthy side of kids' snacks.

More from Kitchen Daily:
20 Healthy Foods that are Actually Unhealthy
Healthy After School Snacks for Kids
Healthy Snacks in 100 Calories or Less

Expert Approved Karen Latimer

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