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Ask Food: Are fruit snacks healthful?

Scripps Howard News Service

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Q: Are fruit snacks healthful for kids?

A: Fruit snacks run around 80 calories to 90 calories per small pouch, which is a reasonable amount of calories for a kid's snack. They're free of fat, cholesterol and are very low in sodium. Many also provide vitamins A and C.

But these sticky fruit snacks have around 5 teaspoons of added sugar per pouch. Many also contain small amounts of partially hydrogenated oils -- another name for artery-clogging trans-fat! There's also no protein, healthy fat or fiber to make it a satisfying snack, meaning your little ones will be hungry soon after munching a pack or two.

If you read the ingredient lists, many fruit snacks are made from food coloring and dyes, including yellow 40, red 5 and blue 1, which has been linked to behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children.

The verdict: If you're looking to give your kids a well-balanced snack with plenty of vitamins A and C, choose REAL fruit instead (you'll also get fiber and potassium). Most fruit snacks are little more than sugar and dyes -- it's right there in the ingredient list.

Courtesy Toby Amidor on foodnetwork.com

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