School is out for many kids. That may mean you are stocking up on summer snacks to keep the kids fueled for the season. Health experts agree that fresh, natural foods such fruits and vegetables provide some of the best nutrients for kids. But until Mother Nature comes out with a lima bean that looks like a princess or pirate, doesn’t easily spoil and tastes great even after spending the night in the back of the minivan, many moms will be picking up granola bars, peanut butter and other childhood staples. Learn what to look for on the label to ensure your kids’ snacks are good for them, as well as the environment.
Chewy granola bars: While some granola bars used to contain trans fat, many companies have switched to naturally trans fat-free palm oil. It provides the same delicious consistency and shelf life without the health risks. Look for palm oil listed in the ingredients. Stay away from bars that list partially hydrogenated oil because that is trans fat. Because of labeling laws, a product may contain up to 0.5 grams of partially hydrogenated oils and still be considered trans fat-free.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: Choose healthier peanut butters such as Smart Balance or Peanut Butter and Co. spreads, both of which use palm oil to deliver the rich, velvety taste kids love. Peanut Butter and Co. uses Malaysian sustainable palm oil because of that country’s and its palm oil industry’s high environmental standards. If you are avoiding peanuts, consider Nutella hazelnut spread. Many store-bought breads also contain Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This healthy fat is rich in vitamin E and helps extend shelf life.
Cookies, crackers and chocolate: Over the last 20 years, the United State’s use of genetically modified crops has increased dramatically. When you’re selecting summer snacks, consider purchasing a non-GMO variety. Many contain Malaysian sustainable palm oil, because unlike soy and corn oil, Malaysian palm oil is 100 percent non-GMO.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.