What do banana chips, fruit leathers, and fruit snacks all have in common—aside from the fact that they’re all made with fruit? People often assume that they’re healthy. But the truth is that you’d be better off eating fresh fruit than anything that comes out of a bag or a box stamped with the claim that it’s an “Excellent source of vitamin C.” But we know that life gets in the way of eating fresh produce—and sometimes you just want to watch a movie with a bowl of gummy bears. (We totally get it!) This why we scanned shelves of our local market to uncover the best and worst fruit snack options.
Read on to discover which snacks are studs—and which are duds—so you can stock up on the best fuel for you and your family. And while you’re loading up on our Eat This-approved snacks, be sure to pick up some of these 20 Filling Fruits and Veggies! Eating right without feeling deprived has never been easier.
Veggie-Go’s Organic Chewy Fruit & Veggie Snacks, Mountain Berry Spinach
15 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 5 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 0 g protein
Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-Ups Strawberry Sensation
50 calories, 1 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 50 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 0 g protein
Organic apples, spinach, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and sweet potatoes are the only things used to create Veggie-Go’s low-cal, low-sugar snack. This sounds like a great way to get your little one to eat his or her veggies! Betty Crocker’s rendition, on the other hand, is far from sensational—despite what its name implies. Loaded with unnecessary additives like red 40, Yellow 5 (one of these 23 Worst Food Additives in America), partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil (a form of trans fat) and zero actual fruit, Betty’s snack is a hard pass.
Bare Baked Crunchy Apple Chips Gluten Free Fuji Red
1 oz, 90 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 0 g protein
Good Health Inc. Apple Chips
1 oz, 140 calories, 7 g fat, 15 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 0 g protein
You probably don’t think you need to read the ingredient or nutritional panel on a bag that’s primarily filled with apples. But in today’s sketchy food scene, it’s 100 percent necessary. And that’s because certain brands like Good Health Inc. coat their crunchy snack with vegetable oil and corn syrup—two caloric ingredients that aren’t even needed to create the snack. How can we be so sure? Because Bare’s rendition is made with nothing more than baked apples! Save your arteries the pain and opt for our Eat This pick every time.
Bare Snacks Simply Banana Chips
½ cup, 120 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 1 g protein
Good Sense Banana Chips
1/2 cup, 210 calories, 13 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 1 g protein
To make naturally sweet banana chips at home, all you need is a banana and some lemon juice to prevent browning. Which is why we were surprised to discover that Good Sense adds coconut oil, sugar, and banana flavor (um, what?!) to their packages. Opting for Bare Snacks’ no-sugar-added variety will save you 90 calories and a whopping 13 grams of fat per serving. The winner here is obvious.
Sunday Cats Ice Pops
1 freezie, 20 – 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 5 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 0 g protein
Giant Freeze Pops
1 freezie, 20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g sodium, 5 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 0 g protein
There’s nothing better than an ice-cold popsicle on a warm day. But as adults, we know that no great tasting treat is worth eating if it’s filled with junk like high fructose corn syrup and potassium sorbate, a carcinogen that’s been shown to cause the cells of mammals to mutate. That’s why we’re such big fans of Sunday Cats Ice Pops. They have the same great flavor as their chemical-filled competitor—but without the chemicals. Want to get your hands on a box? For now, they’re only available on the brand’s website.
Annie’s Organic Orchard Strawberry Fruit Bites
1 pouch, 60 calories, 5 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 0 g protein
Kellogg’s Jurassic World Fruit Flavored Snacks
1 pouch (22 grams) 70 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 11 g sugar, < 1 g protein
Note: They’re all about the same in terms of sugar and calories, so to determine a winner we had to examine the ingredients and portion sizes.
No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, there’s no denying that most fruit snacks are simply gummy bears in disguise. They come in smaller packages, sure, which helps to keep the calories and sugar content down a bit, but most of them have the very same ingredient-base as America’s favorite fruity candy: corn syrup and sugar. That’s two types of added sugar making up the bulk of the recipe. Although Annie’s fruit bites don’t look much better at first glance, we chose her product as the winner because it’s made almost entirely of fruits, veggies, and added vitamin C. Translation: all of the sugar is the naturally occurring variety. Don’t get it twisted, though; this doesn’t mean Annie’s fruit bites are super healthy. But they certainly are the healthier option. Learn the ins and outs of all the various types of sugar in our special report, Every Popular Added Sweetener—Ranked!
Trader Joe’s Dried Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries
1/3 cup (40 g), 120 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 0 g protein
Mariani Premium Dried Cherries
1/3 cup (40 g), 140 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 27 g sugar, 1 g protein
A cup of dried fruit packs up to eight times more calories and sugar than a cup of the fresh stuff. Which is why you should only buy dried fruits that are free of added sugar. Not only does adding the white granular stuff to the mix up the sugar and calorie count, you don’t even need it to make the fruit taste good! Trader Joe’s bag of dried cherries only contains one ingredient—and that’s fruit! Mariani’s, on the other hand, relied on sugar and oil to enhance their fruit’s flavor. Keep them far, far away from your salads and oatmeal. They won’t do your body any favors.
Jell-O Simply Good Strawberry Gelatin
½ cup, 90 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 90 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 2 g protein
Jell-O Sugar-Free Strawberry Gelatin
1/2 cup, 10 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 55 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 1 g protein
Many old school diets recommend eating sugar-free Jell-O as a healthy dessert but don’t listen to them. Many of these diets were developed way before we knew just how harmful sugar alternatives like Acesulfame potassium (which is used to make sugar-free Jell-O appetizing) could be. Now we know the additive can cause neurological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and in rare cases, epileptic seizures. That’s why we suggest going with Jell-O’s more caloric option from their new Simply Good line, which offers four different flavors of Jell-O flavored with real fruit juices and free of artificial flavors, dyes and, preservatives. While it’s not clean enough to be found on the shelves of a Whole Foods, it’s definitely the better option—and it’s easy to find at stores like Walmart, too. And speaking of smart buys, try these 25 Best Clean Snacks to Buy Online!
Earth’s Best Organic Apple Sauce Cups
4 oz, 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 0 g protein
Mott’s Original Applesauce
4 oz, 90 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 0 g protein
Apples are a potent superfood, but not all products made with the stuff can claim the same. Mott’s Original Applesauce, for example, is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup—which makes up more than 50 percent of the sugar in its package! Not to mention, the plastic container in which it’s contained is laced with BPA, a chemical that’s been linked to obesity. It’s also been shown to throw off important mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters by significantly altering genes in the stress-mediating portion of the brain. That said, we recommend buying Earth’s Best applesauce instead. It comes in a BPA-free container and is free of added sugar. It’s also made with organic apples, which is good news considering apples are one of the most pesticide-laden crops in America. If you can’t find it at your local market, Mott’s Natural Applesauce, (50 calories, 11 g sugar) is a solid runner up.
Kashi Cereal Bars, Ripe Strawberry
1 bar, 120 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 100 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 2 g protein
Sunbelt Fruit & Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars
1 bar, 140 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 70 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 1 g protein
They may be made with whole grains and fruit, but you’d be hard pressed to find any cereal bar that’s as healthy as a bowl of oatmeal that’s been topped with nature’s candy. That said, if you’re looking for a similar flavor on the run, at least opt for a cereal bar that’s low-ish in sugar and provides some fiber. Made with ingredients like oats, oat fiber, brown rice, rye, triticale, barley, and buckwheat, Kashi’s rendition hits the mark. Sunbelt’s bar, on the other hand, has more ingredients than we have time to read. Soybean oil, corn syrup, mono and diglycerides, titanium dioxide, and red 40 for breakfast? No, thank you! Nab a box of the Kashi variety and don’t miss these 17 Breakfast Ideas Diet Experts Love.
Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears
16 pieces 130 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 1 g protein
Haribo Gold-Bears Original Gummi Candy
17 pieces, 140 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 3 g protein
Most gummies go head-to-head in terms of sugar, fat, carbs, and calories, so we looked at the quality of ingredients to pick our winning bag of bears. While Black Forest colors their candies with things like black carrot juice, turmeric, and red beet extract, Haribo bears get their vibrant hue from yellow 5, red 40, blue 1, which has been loosely linked to cancers in animal studies.
Siggi’s 4% Blueberry
1 container, 4.4 oz, 140 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 55 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 12 g protein
Chobani Fruit on the Bottom Greek Yogurt
1 container, 5.3 oz, 120 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 50 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 15 g sugar, 12 g protein
Siggi’s 4% milkfat varieties deliver satiating healthy fats and 12 grams of protein for a mere 8 grams of sugar, making their ratio among the healthiest on the market. Chobani definitely isn’t the worst yogurt on the market, but there’s no reason to down 15 grams of added sugar if you don’t need to.