For parents looking to sneak some nutrition into their kids’ school lunches, brightly packaged fruity snacks — many of which promise they’re the equivalent of a serving of fruit or more — are undoubtedly tempting. After all, the plastic-wrapped bars, sticks, rolls and strips contain no pits, seeds or cores and require no washing, peeling or slicing. And kids tend to eat them without any fuss.
But convenience aside, parents shouldn’t kid themselves. “They’re not as good as eating regular fruit,” no matter the promises on the package, says Mark Kantor, professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland inCollege Park. Fruit snacks, whether or not they claim to provide a serving of fruit, don’t offer all the nutritional benefits of whole fruit and often contain added sugars and sometimes fats, he says.
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