Give Your Kids Fruit - Not Fruit Snacks - The UltimateFatBurner Blog

Give Your Kids Fruit – Not Fruit Snacks

There’s a good article in the LA Times about the misleading claims plastered on the labels of fruit snacks.  While fruit leather and Roll Ups “made with real fruit” seem wholesome, they’re NOT equivalent to fresh fruit.  Not even close…

The snacks usually derive their fruit content from the same few sources: purée of apple or pear, apple juice concentrate and grape juice concentrate. Apples, pears and grapes are such popular ingredients in fruit snacks because they’re naturally very sweet, says Anuradha Prakash, professor of food science at Chapman University in Orange. (Prakash is also a spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists, as is Kantor.)

Sugars, in addition to vitamin C, potassium, fiber and an array of antioxidants, are the key nutrients in such fruits, she adds — whole fruits, that is. But the words “juice” and “purée” on package labels are an indicator that most of the nutrients didn’t make it into the final, processed product. Vitamin C levels drop during processing because the vitamin is sensitive to heat. Fiber is removed when a fruit is pressed into a juice, and so are antioxidants, many of which are found in the peel.

“As soon as you remove the peel, you’ve removed a huge amount of the benefit,” Prakash says.

Sugars, meanwhile, survive the journey from whole fruit to fruit snack very nicely — even getting concentrated along the way. Grape juice concentrate is essentially a “euphemism for sugar,” says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “These juice concentrates are so highly processed that basically all that is left is sugar,” Nestle says.

I’ve packed many a school lunch myself, and know it’s not always easy to come up with school lunches and snacks that are both relatively healthy AND appealing to elementary school kids. Fruit snacks may seem like a good compromise: the kiddies love ’em, and they’re “natural” as can be, right?  But Marion Nestle’s description, “fruit-flavored candy,” is pretty apt.  Even in the absence of added sugars, most of the nutrition has been processed out of them. It’s better to give your kids real, fresh fruit – not processed, packaged snacks.

Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.


  1. It just seems like the more people try to come up with “healthy” alternatives to real food, it never works. You take out most of the “good” parts, and substitute sugar.

    Never comes out as good as the real thing. I do see the problem with children liking the “real thing”.

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  2. I am one lucky gal that (so far) my toddler has great eating habits. Set a table for her with fruits, veggies, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, etc, and she ALWAYS goes for the fruits and veggies. I wonder if it’s genes or role modeling in the house. There’s always lots of fruits and veggies in the fridge. My only problem is that I can’t get her to eat very much in the way of protein and fat or starchy carbs!! Oh well- I have to say-it all starts at home. Amazing how quick and early in life they learn.

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