In the realm of healthy snacking, the choice of fruit can play a pivotal role in promoting overall well-being for you and your family. Today, we’re joined by seasoned registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Arrey, and CJAD radio host, Ken Connors, to delve into the topic of fruit snacks and their impact on health.

Amidst the array of options available, from fresh to dried fruits, questions emerge regarding which choice reigns supreme in terms of nutritional value and suitability for snacking. In this interview, we’ll explore the factors to consider when selecting the best fruit snack for your family’s needs, as well as the potential benefits and drawbacks of consuming dried versus fresh fruit. Join us as we navigate the fruity landscape of snack choices and uncover insights to help you make informed decisions about your family’s snacking habits.


This podcast was aired on the Weekends with Ken Connors show on CJAD.


Ken Connors: Kim I know that you and your colleagues tell us to eat fruits as part of a healthy snack. I was looking for snacks to bring to golfing and I was surprised to see how many of the snacks have fruit in them.  It was quite the challenge.

Kim Arrey: Ken the number snacks in the grocery store is pretty overwhelming.  And finding something healthy that will meet the criteria that it can be easily packed and brought to school, work, or the golf course can add a twist that makes it an arduous task. 

Ken Connors: So first things first.  Are fruits a healthy snack?

Kim Arrey: Yes Ken, fruits can be a part of a healthy snack.  Fruits are high in nutrients, contain no added sugar, and are tasty.  But often they are not that filling so it is best to combine your fruit with a source of protein or fat.  So ideally your fruit snack should also include some cheese or some nuts or seeds.  So something like apple slices with peanut butter is a great idea.

Ken Connors: Here is my problem Kim.  A fresh apple does not transport that well in my golf bag.  It can get pretty banged up and mushy.  And if I cut it up it turns brown which is not appetizing.  And I hear from my friends with kids that plain fruits either don’t make the grade after spending the morning in the lunch box or that the kids just won’t eat them.  What can you do?

Kim Arrey: Ken a lot of people are not eating their fruits, not just the kids.  The most recent data that I found was from 2021 and only about 22% of Canadians are choosing 5 or more portions of vegetables and fruit a day.  And in Canada in the winter when fresh fruits are pretty expensive, and sometimes not so tasty, well that adds another dimension.  People are looking for alternatives.  A group of researchers at the University of Massachusetts decided to actually look at the snack foods that are available in the supermarket to assess their nutritional value and then make recommendations.  They looked at the nutrition information from fruit snacks launched in the USA between 2017 and 2022.  And Ken, can you believe that they ended up looking at 2405 newly launched fruit snacks. They plugged in the nutrition information of these snacks into the Nutrient Rich Food Index to score the foods which is a rating scale for food that adds up the healthy nutrients and removes the nutrients of concern and give the food a score. 

Ken Connors: Ok.  So what did they find?  Aside from the fact that fresh fruit is great? Were there any surprises?

Kim Arrey: Ken, the researchers put the snacks in 9 different categories: canned fruit, canned fruit with juice, dried fruit, dried fruit with flavouring, formed fruit, fruit chips, fruit based bars, fruits puree, and then fruit flavoured snack.  And the top 3 picks were probably what you expected: dried fruit, canned fruit in juice and fruit puree!  The biggest surprise is that fruit leathers and flavoured dried fruit and fruit bars scored about the same a fruit canned in syrup, due to the amount of sugar that has been added to them.  And fruit gummies scored about the lowest, which should not be a surprise.

Ken Connors: So I can add dried fruit to my golf snack?  Aren’t they too high in sugar?

Kim Arrey: Dried fruit is concentrated in sugar and nutrients.  And that is normal.  Two fresh dates have the same nutrients and calories as 2 dried dates, they just have less water.   The key is to not eat a whole bag of dried dates….But to eat only 2 and add some nuts to fill you up.  Dried fruit and nuts are a super portable snack. And the advantage is that they are easy to eat! No spoon, no mess, no peels to toss….easy peasy.  You can purchase small ready to eat packages of fruit, nuts, seeds, and for a treat a bit of chocolate.  This snack checks all the boxes.  You can also purchase little snacks of dried fruit, nuts and cheese.  Since more and more schools are reintroducing nuts to the classroom, you might even be able to send this mixture your kids lunch box.