Are Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food Actually Good For You?

Marisa Papa

We live in a society where people are obsessed with buying healthier alternatives to commercialized junk food, but are these foods actually worth it nutritionally, for the taste, and the price point? Madison Dodger Online decided to test three different junk foods: Haribo Gummies, Reese’s, and Cheez-its, against their “healthier” counterparts to determine if the healthy snacks were superior in nutritional value, taste, and price.

Adjusting the serving size to make a fair comparison, the healthy gummies and peanut butter cups do, in fact, “beat-out” the original junk food in nutritional value. However, the data shows that the difference is very minimal with the healthier versions only winning by two or three grams of fats, carbs, or sugar (as seen in the chart below). In general, the difference is not significant enough to make a notable impact on one’s health to make these products worth the money. The more proactive route one could take to living a healthy lifestyle is buying organic food: fruits, vegetables, or lean meats, where the health benefits are more predominant than in the processed “healthy snacks”.

As seen in the video above, healthier foods tend to trend on the less favorable size, even MDO’s Paul Saurer said that the Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears taste like “bad Flintstones Vitamins”. Even economically, healthy snacks are not worth the time with prices being drastically higher than the original version. A 5-ounce bag of Haribo gummies costs a meager $1.19, while a 5-ounce bag of Surf Sweets costs $5, roughly five times greater than the price of the original for the same amount of product (as seen in the bar chart below). Overall, while healthy alternatives to snacks may be marginally better nutritionally than the original snacks, they aren’t the best financial way to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy: Same Size: Un-Healthy: Same Size:
Gummies: Serving Size- 15

Calories- 125

Sodium- 70mg (3%)

Carbs- 31g (10%)

Sugar- 21g (84%)

Serving Size- 3

Calories- 27

Sodium- 14g (1%)

Carbs- 6g (2%)

Sugar- 7g

(28%)

Serving Size- 9

Calories- 100

Carbs- 23g (8%)

Total Sugar- 14g (56%)

Added Sugars- 14g (56%)

Protein- 2g (4%)

Serving Size- 3

Calories- 33

Carbs- 7g (3%)

Total Sugar- 5g (20%)

Added Sugars- 5g (20%)

Protein- .6g (1%)

Peanut Butter Cups: Serving Size- 2

Calories- 170

Fat- 10g (13%)

Trans Fat- 5g (25%)

Cholesterol- 5mg (5%)

Sodium- 30mg (1%)

Crabs- 17g (6%)

Total Sugar- 15g (60%)

Added Sugar- 13g (56%)

Protein- 3g (5%)

Serving Size- 2

Calories- 200

Fat- 12g (15%)

Saturated Fat- 4g (31%)

Cholesterol- <5mg (1%)

Sodium- 140mg (6%)

Carbs- 23g (8%)

Total Sugars- 20g (80%)

Added Sugars- 19% (76%)

Protein- 4g (7%)

Cheez-its: Serving Size- 6

Calories- 130

Total Fats- 5g (38%)

Saturated Fats- 1g (5%)

Sodium- 280mg (12%)

Carbs- 17g (6%)

Protein- 2g (4%)

Serving Size- 6

Calories- 130

Total Fats- 5g (38%)

Saturated Fats- 1g (8%)

Sodium- 280mg (12%)

Carbs- 17g (6%)

Protein- 2g (4%)

Serving Size- 12

Calories- 150

Total Fats- 8g (10%)

Saturated Fats- 1.5g (11.5%)

Sodium- 230mg (10%)

Carbs- 17g (6%)

Protein- 3g (5%)

Serving Size- 6

Calories- 75

Total Fats- 4g (5%)

Saturated Fats- .75g (6%)

Sodium- 115mg (5%)

Carbs- 8.5g (3%)

Protein- 1.5 (2.5)