Are Trader Joe’s Snacks Healthy?

Trader Joe's Fruit & Yogurt Gummies

Trader Joe’s is considered the “good guy” in the foodie world, because the grocery retailer refuses to sell products with controversial ingredients in its stores. That does not automatically translate to healthy, even though some products could fool you.

Take the product pictured above, screaming “Mango! Mango!” at you. You then notice that’s it’s actually a fruit and yogurt flavored gummy. Obviously not a health food. That’s fine, but let’s see if TJ’s is true to its brand image, and uses non-controversial ingredients.

Here is the product’s ingredient list:

glucose syrup (wheat), sugar, mango pulp, animal gelatin, passionfruit juice concentrate, citric acid, lactic acid, yogurt powder (skimmed milk, yogurt cultures [s.thermophilus, l.bulcaricus]), pectin, natural flavors, sweet whey powder, lactose, elderberry juice concentrate, glazing agent (beeswax, vegetable oil [soybean, palm, coconut]).

As expected, the main ingredients are sugars (marked in bold). The mango pulp is also mostly sugar. A serving of 140 calories has 88 calories coming from sugar. There is no fiber, and no vitamins or minerals listed. Unlike other brands that fortify their candies with vitamin C or calcium to make them seem healthy, Trader Joe’s did not attempt to make their product seem to be what it’s not.

Most of the ingredients in the ingredient list are rather tame. TJ’s does not use artificial colors to make the gummy shapes look brighter. There are no problematic preservatives. The use of “natural flavors” is disappointing though. We expected Trader Joe’s to use high quality mango and yogurt ingredients that would not require the addition of lab-made flavors (yes, natural flavors are also synthesized in a lab).

To sum things up, it would be challenging to call a sugary snack “healthy”. But for many parents, treating their children to this type of gummy is a better choice than the brand name gummies created with problematic ingredients.

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  • oldlady

    you bring up an interesting point for food retailers selling natural snacks. In the midwest, Meijers has a natural brand, no GMO’s, no preservatives, etc. But their cheeze puff snack has autolyzed yeast and natural flavors.I check labels even if I goto Whole Foods, because Boulder Chips has natural flavors in it’s BBQ chips. So I know there are added ingredients when flavor is added, but I am suspicious because they look like chemicals and feel they are synthenic. So it it the amount of sugar too in which I moved away from snack/protein bars..

  • H2O

    I also try to stay away from soybean oil and palm oil.. Soybean oil not good for us and palm oil is killing the orrangutans. So Thank you I will make sure at TJs I will still read my labels.

  • flouncy

    Good grief, it’s displayed with the candy. Nobody thinks it’s a healthy snack. Trader Joe’s has LOTS of truly healthy snacks. Why not mention any of those?

    • Malena

      I feel that the Fooducate team is full of “those health snobs” just about every time I read their dailytips. Anyone remember how upset they were about the Subway Super Bowl commercial?

    • Mariah

      Good info which shouldn’t be taken as snobby when it’s a blog about eating well as possible in a food industry that sets you up for failure! But yeah says candy right on front. But it is silly for trader joes to gloat nothing controversial when they still use the “natural flavors” loophole to not disclose ingredients.

  • synthetic

    vegetable oil – likely garbage and never stated how its processed. Im sure it is rancing with transfats.

  • Stefan

    …or you could just NOT give your kids candy.

    • Utopia

      Oh but that’s no fun. Moderation is key.

  • Utopia

    Would never think this product or anything similar to it was a “health food.” It’s candy and possibly a treat for those who enjoy this sort of snack. When I see candy/processed treats in TJs or WFs, it would be foolish to assume that just because it’s sold at such retailer that it therefore must be a healthy food. I view these products as a lesser of evils. For example, Justin’s peanut butter cups are an alternative to Reese’s, but nothing about Justin’s is good for me or healthy. I think this is basic logic.

  • Christine

    Or you could choose a better product to review.

  • Capricious

    Fooducate! I already know how to be unhealthy if I wanted to, and how to read an ingredient list. Tell me something I don’t know, maybe something helpful like how to stay healthy when you’re surrounded by all of this junk.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Please sign up to get a daily tip and you will learn a lot.

  • Mike

    I agree with flouncy. It’s obvious. I love trader joes. There’s no reason to bash.