Unreal Eats is Healthy Living's original video series, where we go behind calorie counts and health claims to examine what's really in the processed foods that scream loudest in our food environment.
If you have kids, chances are you've had some run-ins with fruit and veggie pouches. The squeezable bags tout "100 percent" produce, but unfortunately, that's not where the story ends. As Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote in Slate:
Parents everywhere -- including all-organic, anti-processed-food types -- are raising tots who have plastic pouches growing out of their mouths, and can you blame them? The snacks are convenient; they’re virtually spill-free; they’re ubiquitous (on sale at Starbucks!); and they’re pure blended fruit and vegetables, so we can feel good about giving them to our kids.
Or can we?
We can't. The truth is that your kid's main squeeze, even if it claims to have no added sugar or be made entirely of fruit, doesn't really do the same thing to your body as pure fruit does.
"One apple contains between 10 and 13 grams of sugar, which is probably the same amount of sugar that those pouches contain, but it takes longer to eat an apple, to chew an apple. And there's more fiber in apples in most cases," explains Natalia Stetenko, a pediatric nutritionist in private practice in New York.
While most of the pouches we discovered contained only about 3 to 4 ounces of food, they had the sugar content of far greater weights of pure fruit. Held up to the same weight in fruit pieces, the pouches simply were over-sugared.
"The sugar is metabolized and used differently [without the mitigating fiber], and it's easy to overdo those pouches," Stetenko tells HuffPost. "Children love them and they are so easy to eat."
Indeed, at least one study has found that fruit puree doesn't lead to the same level of satiety as actual fruit, meaning that kids really are apt to eat more of the stuff.
That doesn't mean we have to avoid them entirely: It just means a fruit puree should be considered more treat than snack -- more dessert than dinner.
Have a look at the video above, then tell us in the comments: Do you serve squeezers to your kids?
Camera: Amber Genuske
Editor: Amber Genuske
Reporter: Meredith Melnick
Producers: Amber Genuske, Meredith Melnick & Laura Schocker