With so many snacks to choose from in supermarkets these days, knowing which ones to avoid is vital in keeping children healthy yet satisfied. Avoid empty calories with added sugar and extra grams of trans fat and saturated fat by avoiding the worst offenders, most of which are highly processed convenience foods.
Many of the beverages found in the juice aisle tend to have the same number of calories (and often more) as 100 percent fruit juice. These drinks, however, are largely made up of a concoction of high-fructose corn syrup and other additives, including preservatives and dyes.
The Stuff in Muffins
Muffins can have more sugar, calories and fat than cupcakes. A large muffin can pack in as much as 630 calories per serving, and the saturated and trans fat content are often equivalent to that of a doughnut.
Toaster pastries tend to be highly processed. Highly processed foods contain numerous additives, including preservatives and added sugars that contribute to calorie load without the benefit of vitamins and minerals.
Cash in the Chips
Chips contain trans fats and hydrogenated oils that contribute to cardiovascular disease and obesity. Although parents consider baked chips a healthier option, these often have added sugars to increase taste.
A large order of french fries contains 26 grams of fat and about 500 calories, most of which is trans fat and saturated fat. Foods that are high in trans fat raise total blood cholesterol levels and lead to plaque buildup starting as early as childhood. These plaques eventually lead to the development of hypertension and heart disease.
The Scoop on Calories
If the kids are craving a cold treat, opt for yogurt instead of ice cream. One scoop of ice cream can have anywhere from 360 to 820 calories and is also high in saturated fat in comparison to a serving of frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet, which runs between 100 and 200 calories.
Some Tough Cookies
Those cookies found in the snack aisle that never seem to have an expiration date also fall into the highly processed food category and are high in sodium, saturated fats or trans fats and contain little dietary fiber.
A Weighty Dessert
The name for this cake is derived from the traditional weight of its ingredients: 1 pound of flour, 1 pound of sugar, 1 pound of butter and 1 pound of eggs. This is a cake particularly high in cholesterol since about 40 percent of calories tend to come from fat.
Although many sugary cereals now are fortified with vitamins, these also tend to be highly processed. Processing raw food ingredients usually changes their natural state by stripping the grains of their natural nutritional value.
Your child may be eating candy that is labeled as “fat-free,” but many of these fat-free candies are loaded with artificial dyes. A number of dyes, including yellow No. 5 and No. 6 and red No. 10, have been linked to hyperactivity and allergies, according to a study performed at Southampton University in 2007.