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Most children enjoy a refreshing frozen pop on a hot summer day, but they aren’t necessarily a healthy snack choice. Most frozen pops contain large amounts of added sugar, but little in the way of nutrition. Knowing what to look for, as well as how to make your own frozen pops, can improve the nutritional value of these treats and give you peace of mind when your child enjoys one as a summer snack.
While many Popsicles are low in calories, they can’t be considered a nutritious snack. The average Popsicle contains between 30 and 50 calories, but doesn’t contain vitamins and minerals, which decreases its nutritional value. Certain brands add vitamin C to their frozen pops, which is beneficial, but doesn’t make them a healthy snack. Popsicles don’t contain calcium, iron, potassium or B vitamins, which are all crucial nutrients that support your child’s health and growth.
Another drawback to serving your child a Popsicle is the amount of sugar it contains. One small frozen pop can have as much as 8 grams of added sugar, which is equal to about 2 teaspoons. According to Kids Health, when your child eats a diet high in added sugar, he is at an increased risk for unhealthy weight gain, obesity and tooth decay. While an occasional frozen pop won’t harm your child’s health or weight, making them a regular part of your child’s diet might.
Tips Look for sugar-free frozen pops as one way to improve the nutritional value. Popsicles that don’t contain added sugar can be an alternative, but they do contain artificial sweeteners, which aren’t good for your child either. Many brands offer frozen pops made from 100 percent fruit juice or pureed fruit. These options often don’t contain added sugar, but do supply many of the same nutrients as a whole piece of fruit. Certain brands also offer mini versions of regular Popsicles. These can be lower in added sugar, which makes them a healthier frozen treat option. Read nutrition labels, however, because some brands of mini frozen pops can actually contain more sugar than the larger versions.
Make your own frozen pops to increase the nutritional value significantly. Freeze 100 percent fruit juice in molds as a simple way to make frozen pops that contain a healthy dose of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium. Combine pureed fruit with 100 percent fruit juice as another healthy way to make your own frozen pops. Puree fresh berries or melon with low-fat plain yogurt and press into molds to make frozen treats that contain vitamin C, fiber and calcium. Add pureed carrots or sweet potatoes to increase the vitamin A content without significantly changing the flavor.
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