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How to Find the Healthiest Sweet Snack In Australia

It’s a common misconception that it’s ‘bad to eat sweets’ and I often hear phrases along the lines of ‘I can’t eat healthy, I’m too much of a sweet tooth’. But you’ll be happy to know that sweets are not off the menu just because you want to eat healthy! It all comes down to the types of sweets we’re eating.

I don’t like to classify foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, however there is definitely a spectrum when it comes to how nutritious foods are and whether or not they’re going to support our health. As a nutritionist, I’m always going to recommend the sweets that are more nutrient dense. The sweets that are made up of real foods, with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Not only are they more nutritious, they also tend to be more filling. This makes them a more suitable snack than the heavily processed or refined options too.

So, whether you’re a sweet tooth, crave something sweet when 3pm comes around, or just want to enjoy sweets as part of a healthy, balanced diet, strap yourself in as we explore the good, the bad and the ugly of sweet snacks.

 

What makes it difficult to find a healthy sweet snack in the supermarket?

It’s no secret that sugar is addictive. Unfortunately, many supermarket brands capitalise on this fact and it’s not uncommon to see sweet snacks filled with refined sugars. This keeps us hooked and stuck in the consumer cycle, continually purchasing their sugary products. Sadly, many of the big food companies are about money and business, not health. So, they load their products full of sugars that will keep us coming back for more.

The more addicted to sugary products we are, the higher demand there is for them, which means we start to see more and more on the supermarket shelves. Therein lies our problem.

It’s important to remember that we vote with our dollar. Spend your money on things you want to see more of. The more we purchase real food products, the more brands will come out with them.

 

Qualities of a healthy sweet snack:

The number one quality of a healthy sweet snack is that it is made up of real food. The number two quality is that the sweetness is coming from natural sources. Foods that are naturally sweet include dates and other dried fruits (preferably those that do not have preservatives/sulphites), honey and maple syrup. Other natural sweeteners that can be found in healthy sweet snacks include stevia, rice malt syrup and/or coconut sugar, to name a few. Basically, the less refined the sweetener, the better.

Another thing to take into consideration is the amount of sweetener in the product. Ideally, we want to see some sources of protein, fibre and healthy fats in there too. This will help to make it a balanced snack and keep us feeling more satisfied. It will also slow the release of the naturally occurring sugars and help prevent a spike in our blood sugar levels.

 

Ingredients we like to see in a healthy sweet snack:

Something that might surprise you is that I like to see dates in healthy sweet snacks. Dates often get a bad rap because of their sugar content, but if we’re going to be eating sugar, it’s best when we can get it in a real food form! The sugar in dates comes packaged up with fibre, antioxidants, and small amounts of beneficial minerals like potassium, copper, and magnesium.’

Honey is another ingredient that I like to see used as a sweetener in healthy sweet snacks. This is because a good quality honey is a source of antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenolic acids. Antioxidants help scavenge free radicals, helping prevent damage to our cells. Raw honey is ideal, as it retains more of the antioxidant content of this food.

Other ingredients that are great to see on the ingredients list of healthy sweet snacks are nuts and seeds. These nutritious real foods are delicious and contain healthy fats, protein, and fibre. They are often what makes a sweet snack more filling and balanced.

 

What are the healthiest sweet snacks available?

These days there is no shortage of healthy sweet snacks on the market. Here are some that we’re loving at the moment:

 

The Hero: Chocolate + Orange Raw Wholefood Bar

GoodnessMe

Certified organic ingredients*: dates*, almond butter*, cashews*, chia seeds*, flax seeds*, brazil nuts*, hemp seeds*, pumpkin seeds (pepitas)*, cacao powder* (3.96%), cacao butter*, desiccated coconut*, Citrus aurantium dulcis (Orange) peel oil (0.38%).

 

Health Lab Jam Filled Balls – Aussie Lamington

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Ingredients: Organic Coconut (31%), Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Dark Chocolate (18.5%) (Cocoa Mass 70%, Sugar, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavour), Canadian Maple Syrup, Cashews, Cashew Butter, Freeze Dried Raspberries (2.5%), Peanut Butter. Dark Chocolate contains minimum 70% Cocoa Mass.

 

The Seed Cycle Brownie Mix

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Organic Ground Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Ground Flaxseeds, Rapadura Sugar, Almond Meal, Raw Cacao, Baking Powder, Sea Salt.

 

Naked Paleo Choc Cherry Paleo Bar

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Dates, Shredded Coconut, Cacao Powder, Dried Cherries, Cacao Nibs, Cacao Butter, Dried Cranberries, Hemp Seeds, Coconut Oil.

 

Funch Bliss Slice Mix Strawberry Cheezcake

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Cashew Meal, Sunflower Seed Meal, Coconut (Preservative Free), Rice Flour, Buckwheat Kernels, Coconut Flour, Freeze Dried Strawberry, Natural Flavour

Review: By Malissa F. GoodnessMe Nutritionist

EASY HEALTHY TREAT

We all love a delicious and nutritious sweet treat every now and then. However, making raw treats from home can often require lot's of ingredients and time. These Funch Bliss Slice Mix Strawberries 'n' Cream DIY mixes make the entire process of making raw treats so easy and affordable. They contain a whole range of nutritious ingredients and are gluten free, vegan and don't contain any unnecessary processed sugars. I give these the tick of approval.

 

DLC Keto Cookies - Peanut Butter

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Ingredients: Peanut butter (46%), Erythritol, Almond meal, Butter (from Milk), Peanuts (8%), Egg, Tapioca Flour, Organic Coconut Flour, Baking soda, Baking powder, Salt.

 

Blue Dinosaur Banana Bread Paleo Bar

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Organic Coconut, Dates, Organic Banana Powder (18%) (From 100% Organic Bananas), Organic Coconut Oil, Cinnamon

Review: By Shahna S.GoodnessMe Nutritionist

ENERGY BOOSTING SNACK

Not only are the Blue Dinosaur Bars delicious, they're also nutritious! Made up of real food ingredients, these bars make a fantastic on the go snack. When you need a quick energy boost, this bar is here to help. They get their natural sweetness from the dates and healthy fats from the coconut. They're paleo friendly, using just fruit, coconut and cinnamon, which also makes them gluten free and vegan! I love that it's flavoured with real banana powder and free from all additives and nasties. If you like banana bread, you're going to enjoy this paleo banana bread bar!

 

Untamed Health Native Davidson Plum Organic Milk Chocolate

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Ingredients: Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Milk Solids, Organic Cocoa Mass, Free Dried Davidson Plum, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Natural Vanilla Flavour.

 

Bounce Choc Hazelnut Keto Low Carb Bar

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Nut Blend (Organic Coconut, Australian Almonds 20%), Tapioca Soluble Fibre, Pea Protein (5%), Natural Chocolate Flavour (5%), Hazelnuts (4%), Sunflower Lecithin, Coconut MCT Oil (1%), Monk Fruit Extract, Natural Flavours, Himalayan Rock Salt.

 

Alter Eco Organic Chocolate Truffles – Dark Mint Cream

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Ingredients: Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Whole Milk, Organic Peppermint Oil 0.3%, Organic Vanilla Beans.

Review: By Malissa F. GoodnessMe Nutritionist

INDULGE IN GOOD QUALITY CHOCOLATE

For all the chocolate lovers out there, this one is for you. These Alter Eco Organic Chocolate Truffles in Dark Mint Cream Chocolate are seriously delicious. They are a tasty crisp chocolate on the outside and the inside is a little more gooey and indulgent. You will really have to try your best to just stop at one.
What I love about this product is that all the ingredients are sustainably sourced, organic and high quality, which is why they are so tasty. The wrappers are also environmentally friendly and are completely compostable. Although super tasty, this product should be treated as a treat that you indulge in only a few times a month or so as it still contains sugar.

 

Koja Peanut Butter Bar – Peanut Butter Caramel

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Peanut Butter (34%), Organic Rice Malt Syrup, Roasted Peanuts (10%), Organic Cacao Butter, Cashew Butter, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Maca Powder, Organic Vanilla Bean Paste, Tapioca Flour, Himalayan Salt.

Review: By Shelley M. GoodnessMe Nutritionist

SNACK ON THE RUN

Koja Peanut Butter Bars are a great option for when you are out and about and stuck for a snack. The fats from the peanut butter will help keep you full for longer, making them a perfect bar for an energy boost or to hit that afternoon sweet tooth when it comes on. These bars are made in Australia using only natural whole food food ingredients. There is no preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, stabilisers, or nasty additives.

 

MMMore Berry Hemp Power Cubes

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Ingredients: Organic Coconut, Dates, Organic Maple Syrup, Hemp Seeds, Almond Meal, Freeze Dried Strawberries, Freeze Dried Blueberries, Hemp Protein Powder.

 

Review: By Shahna S. GoodnessMe Nutritionist

BIG TICK OF APPROVAL

The MMMore range gets a big tick of approval from me! I love that these power cubes use real food ingredients and don't contain any 'natural flavours' like other snacks of their kind. Having a higher nut content and less dates than similar alternatives also makes them lower in sugar, but just as delicious!
These Hemp Power Cubes have some added hemp protein (alongside the naturally occurring protein from the nuts and seeds) so they're a bit more filling than some of the others in the range. They also make the most of the benefits of hemp seeds, which include their omega-3 content, which is an essential fatty acid that we need to get through the food we eat.
They're the perfect snack when you're feeling like something a little bit sweet while still nutritious.

 

My Elephant Superfood Protein Ball Mix – Salted Caramel

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Dates 40% (Dates, Rice Flour), Coconut, Cashews (16%), Buckwheat, Hemp Seeds, Pea Protein, Maca Powder (0.5%), Sea Salt (0.6%), Natural Caramel Flavour (0.2%).

 

What to look for in the nutritional panel:

Let’s take one of the above examples and dive deeper into what makes it such a healthy sweet snack, including what to look for on the nutrition panel.

 

Koja Peanut Butter Bar – Peanut Butter Caramel

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Peanut Butter (34%), Organic Rice Malt Syrup, Roasted Peanuts (10%), Organic Cacao Butter, Cashew Butter, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Maca Powder, Organic Vanilla Bean Paste, Tapioca Flour, Himalayan Salt.

Before looking at the nutrition panel of a product, always make sure it’s made up of real foods by checking the ingredients list. In the case of the above example, it definitely passes that test. All the ingredients listed are foods that we would have at home in our pantry.

As mentioned when discussing the qualities of a healthy sweet snack, the amount of sugar/sweetener in a product is something that we should look at. We can find this by looking at the sugar content per 100g, which gives us a percentage. In this particular product, we can see the sugar content is nice and low for a sweet snack, sitting at 14.1%. Ideally we don’t want the sugar content to be too high, around 25-30% would be the ideal maximum, with anything lower than that being a good option if the sugar is coming from natural sources.

Protein can be another helpful value to take into consideration when determining if something will be a filling snack. This product has 4g of protein per serve, which isn’t particularly high but is still something. It is also combined with healthy fats and fibre, which will help with the satisfaction levels of this bar.

 

How to read the ingredient list on your sweet snacks:

When reading any ingredients list, the main thing to ask yourself is whether or not the product is made up of real foods. The easiest way to determine this is if it’s an ingredient you understand and would find at home in your pantry or fridge.

A good thing to keep in mind is that the ingredients appear in order of most to least used. So, let’s say there is sugar in a product, if it is the first ingredient it’s pretty clear the snack will have a high sugar content. You can confirm this with the nutrition panel, as discussed above.

 

How to spot hidden ingredients in sweet snacks:

Looking past the marketing claims on the front of a packet and reading the ingredients list is the best way to spot anything that might be hidden inside. Look out for umbrella terms that are used to hide multiple ingredients, like ‘flavours’, and try to choose products flavoured with real food or natural ingredients.

 

What are artificial sweeteners and why should we avoid them in this product?

If a product advertises ‘no added sugar’, there’s a chance that they’ve actually just used artificial sweeteners instead. Artificial sweeteners are highly refined, chemical ingredients that have been made in a lab and are designed to mimic the sweetness of sugar. Like any artificial ingredient it doesn’t meet the real food philosophy. Artificial sweeteners are nutritionally void and one of the main reasons we eat food is for the nutrients that fuel our body (along with enjoyment of course). The verdict is still out on the true long-term effects of artificial sweetener consumption; however, the intense sweetness of them may condition our taste buds to crave more and more sweet foods.

 

What does an unhealthy sweet snack look like?

An unhealthy sweet snack is made up of refined foods and highly processed. It generally has a long ingredients list, many of which are things you wouldn’t find in your fridge or pantry. The sugar content would be relatively high, and it wouldn’t be nutritionally balanced with macronutrients like protein, healthy fats and fibre. Let’s take a look at an example of this:

 

Cadbury Crunchy Chocolate Filled Cookies

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Wheat Flour, Choc Centre Filling (25%) (Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Milk Solids, Cocoa Mass, Thickener (1414), Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Flavour), Milk Chocolate Chips (15%) (Sugar, Milk Solids, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Vegetable Fat, Dextrose, Emulsifier (442), Flavour), Sugar, Milk Solids, Vegetable Oil, Wheat Starch, Raising Agents (503, 500, 450), Salt, Flavours (Contains Milk), Colour (160a), Soybean Fibre.

Looking at the above example, we see a long ingredients list with virtually nothing nutritious in the mix. Sugar appears 3 times and the product is 39.1% sugar. It’s also important to note the serving size is just 1 cookie. Who ever eats just 1 cookie? Going off this serving size, you’d be getting just over 2 teaspoons of sugar from that 1 cookie.

Other ingredients that we don’t like to see on this ingredients list include vegetable oil, thickener, emulsifier, vegetable fat, dextrose and raising agents, all of which are highly refined. This product also has artificial colours and flavours, and anything artificial is a no in our books. As we can see, there’s nothing good about this sweet snack and it is a great example of what not to buy.

 

Our top 3 sweet snacks to avoid and why:

It’s hard to pick just 3 sweet snacks to avoid, the sad reality is that when searching a supermarket for a sweet snack there is an influx of products with less than ideal ingredients. Following are a few of the worst and why you’re better off leaving them on the shelves.

 

Arnott’s Snack Right Pillow – Wild Berry

GoodnessMe

Ingredients: Fruits (Sultanas (24%), Apples (13%), Blueberries (1%), Raspberries (1%), Strawberries (0.5%)), Wheat Flour, Sugar, Margarine (Vegetable Oil, Water, Milk Solids, Salt Emulsifiers (E471, Soy Lecithin), Preservative (E202), Food Acid (Lactic Acid), Natural Flavour, Food Colour (Carotene), Vitamins (A, D)), Vegetable Fibre, Starch (Wheat), Eggs, Flavour, Food Colour (Cochineal), Salt, Baking Powder, Preservative (E220), Milk Solids, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin).

The long ingredient list with many highly refined ingredients is the first red flag for this product, but it only gets worse as we continue to look closer. Margarine, made up of hydrogenated vegetable oils, is found in this product and is something I recommend staying away from. It contains trans fats, which are the worst type of fat for our health. Among the refined ingredients, we can also see various preservatives and artificial flavours and colours. Speaking of colours, the food colour cochineal is made of crushed up bugs. Not ideal for our vegetarian or plant-based friends.

With sugar being quite high on the ingredients list and high sugar fruits like sultanas making up a portion of this product, we would expect the sugar content to be high. This is confirmed when we see it’s made up of 47% sugar. Much higher than ideal, especially when coming from processed and refined sources.

Something that really bothers me about this product is the deceiving name ‘snack right’. This is an example of how brands use marketing to make you think you’re making a good or healthy choice. Remember to always look past these claims and check for yourself.

 

Cadbury Chocolate Mini Rolls

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Milk Chocolate (33%) (Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Dried Skimmed Milk, Milk Fat, Vegetable Fats, Dried Whey, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin))Vanilla Flavoured Creme (27%) (Vegetable Oils, Glucose Syrup (from Wheat), Sugar, Dextrose, Flavouring, Emulsifiers (471, 475))Sugar Wheat Flour Glucose Syrup (from Wheat)Humectant (Glycerol)Dried Whole Egg Fat Reduced Cocoa Dried Whey Raising Agents (500, 450)Soya Flour Dried Egg White Salt Emulsifiers (471, 475)Milk Protein Preservative (Potassium Sorbate)Milk Chocolate.

It’s not hard to see why this is not a healthy sweet snack. The long ingredients list with nothing nutritious in there is a red flag in itself. Then we look closer and see that it’s nothing but highly refined, and even artificial, ingredients.

Vegetable fats, like vegetable oils, are highly processed and are considered an unhealthy fat that can contribute to inflammation within the body. Both of these ingredients are better to be avoided.

We also see cocoa in this product, which is more processed and refined than cacao powder, therefore we’re getting less of the benefits from this ingredient.

These mini rolls contain 42.4% sugar, all of which is coming from refined and added sugars. And if the sugar isn’t enough, they’ve also added artificial flavours to trick our taste buds into thinking this product tastes good.

 

Arnott’s Gluten Free Tiny Teddies - Chocolate Chip

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Ingredients: Gluten free Flour Blend (Maize Starch, Modified Tapioca Starch (1412), Rice Flour, Sorghum Flour, Soy Flour, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Thickeners (415, 412, 464), Potato Starch), Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Milk Chocolate Chips (6%) (Sugar, Cocoa Solids, Milk Solids, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin, E476)), Condensed Milk, Butter (From Milk), Vegetable Fibre, Eggs, Whey Powder (Milk), Glucose, Natural Flavour, Salt, Baking Powder.

I wanted to include this example in the top three here because it shows us that just because something is ‘gluten free’ it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. The gluten free flour blend includes some highly refined flours, and even a modified one - modifying food is certainly not in alignment with the real food philosophy. There are also 3 different thickeners which are used to mimic what gluten normally does to foods, however thickeners are generally synthetic and/or highly refined.

We can also see ‘vegetable oil’ on the ingredients list, which is not only highly refined but can be very inflammatory for our bodies.

These Tiny Teddies are 27.6% sugar, which doesn’t sound too bad, but when we keep in mind that this sugar is coming from added refined sugars it’s a very different story than if it were coming from natural / real food sources. On the ingredients list we see sugar appear a couple of times, along with glucose, which is another name for it.

There’s also minimal protein, healthy fats and fibre in a snack like this, which means it’s not a balanced snack and won’t keep you full or satisfied.

That brings us to the end of what to look for, and what to look out for, when choosing a healthy sweet snack. If you’re looking to keep something quick and easy in your pantry, grab yourself a Medjool date and your favourite nut butter. Stuff the date with the nut butter and enjoy this as a simple but delicious sweet fix. Guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds and give your body some quick fuel.

 

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About the author:

Shahna Sarpi is a qualified nutritionist that is on a mission to help people live a nourished life through real food and healthy habits. She loves simplifying food labels and helping people make healthier food choices. Shahna is passionate about spreading the real food message and supporting people in living a healthy life.

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