How do rice cakes rate as snacks?
Parents are often asking me for ideas for healthy snack options on the run for their kids. I know rice cakes are a popular choice for many parents as they are convenient , available in bite sized portions and relatively reasonably priced. I get alot of questions about the yoghurt coated rice cakes as they are coated in yoghurt so they should be healthy right? Well lets take a look!
I had a look at a couple of different brands and sizes of yoghurt coated rice cakes to get an idea of hows these score on a nutritional scale. I don't like words like good and bad so am giving my summary based on a thumbs up and thumbs down.
Ingredients on an ingredients list on a product are listed in order of descending mass meaning the first ingredient occurs the most in a product . In all of the products I looked at sugar was the first ingredient listed in the yoghurt coating component of the ingredients list . This means there is more sugar than actual yoghurt in these products. I always advise my patients to try avoid or limit the products where sugar is listed in the first three ingredients which is the case in many of the brands I looked at.
Ideally when choosing a product you would look for one that contains less than 5g of sugar per 100g, anything above 15g of sugar per 100g is considered high. The amount of sugar in all of the brands I looked at varied from 19.2 to 33.8g per 100g therefore making them all high sugar products As yoghurt contains lactose, a milk sugar, some of the sugar will be coming from there but we know from the ingredients list sugar was listed before yoghurt first showing us that the majority of the sugar in these products is actually coming from the added sugar . It depended on the brand but the bite sized rice cakes contained approx 1g of sugar per cake and the middle sized ones (approx 10g) contained anywhere from 2-3.5g per cake. The maximum amount of sugar a child can have in a day is 3-4 tsp with 1 tsp of sugar equally 4g so this is important to bear in mind so you can portion control your child's intake of these snacks.
3. Saturated fat
The saturated fat content of the products I looked at were also high because yoghurt is made from cows milk which is an animal product. Ideally you want to use products that contain less than 2.5g of saturated fat per 100g and in these products saturated fat ranged from 11.6g- 20.4g.
Due to the small sizes of some of the brands, it is easy to portion control them and therefore manage how many your child eats to ensure they don’t overindulge in sugar.
All of the products I looked at were classified as low salt containing products as they had less than 200mg of sodium per 100g
All of the products contained small amounts of fibre, they are not classified as high in fibre but they will contribute towards a child daily intake.
So can yoghurt rice cakes form part of your child's diet?
I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and by equipping yourself with information about the products on the market you can them make the decision of whether or not to buy them and if you do how much to use or consume. One might say according to my review above you must avoid all yoghurt rice cakes all together but sometimes you are stuck for choice and you need something quick. I would advise if you are giving your child these frequently to cut down how often you give them or the amount you give as ideally we should be avoiding all added sugars for our children as much as possible.
I would suggest limiting the use of them only to special occasions or when you on the road and options are limited i.e try not to make them your go to snack for everyday use. Also be mindful of what other sugar you child could of consumed that day. Just be mindful of portion sizes so when you do give them for example try limit to 1 or 2 bite sized on rice cakes or one medium sized one .
If you looking for similar options to give that are lower in sugar something like a plain rice cake with cottage cheese, cream cheese or peanut butter would be a good option. You can also make your own yoghurt coated options like dipping blueberries, strawberries or cranberries in plain yoghurt and freezing.
I hope you found this article useful.