Childhood isn't complete without at least one or two fruit cup experiences. Yes, you may have been bummed when you pulled out a cup of diced peaches instead of chocolate pudding, but who can say they didn't kind of love those sugary cups of fruit that defined any '90s kid's childhood? But the questions remains: are fruit cups healthy?

Growing up, I was always told that fruit is the healthiest option, i.e. pick the fruit cups instead of the Goldfish for snack-time. However, recent studies are challenging the truth behind the healthiness of fruit cups. That being said, I have to wonder: did I miss out on years of Pepperidge Farm snacks for nothing? Or are fruit cups healthy after all? 

Need a refresher?

If you were in elementary school pre-2010 when lunch boxes were filled with Doritos and Capri Suns instead of kale chips and Kind bars, then you probably had your fair share of fruit cups, too. For those of you who've forgotten, fruit cups are the on-the-go snack packs filled with fruit such as peaches, pears, and pineapples. 

Brands like Dole and Del Monte offered parents the comfort of sending their little ones off to school with both an easy and tasty snack that also happened to be healthy. Fruit cups are among the few snacks from the previously described era that have survived the health craze. 

Until now, that is. Today, the health benefits of fruit cups are being questioned.

Are Fruit Cups Healthy?

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Santina Renzi

People likely assume that a fruit cup is healthy because it's primarily made up of, well, fruit. But what else is in that plastic packaging? 

Despite being low-cal, there can be well over 15 grams of sugar in your beloved fruit cup, depending on the brand. Thanks to Heart.org, I know that a woman's daily sugar limit is 25 grams. Your turn to do the math.

Fruit cups can also contain stevia extract, ascorbic acid, and countless preservatives. If you aren't a nutrition major, I'll save you the trouble of looking those terms up and give you their definitions. 

The Additive Breakdown

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Kai Huang

Stevia Extract: While stevia is a natural sugar substitute, it has its downsides. It's made from popular flower you find in your backyard. However, according to the FDA, the "high-purity steviol glycosides may be lawfully marketed and added to food products sold in the United States. However, stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts...do not have FDA approval for use in food."

Based on that lil' piece of info, is it really safe to use stevia at all? Feeling concerned about what we should and shouldn't put in our bodies? Here are five things the FDA never should've approved.

Ascorbic Acid: Even if something is a vitamin supplement, it doesn't mean it's the healthiest. Ascorbic acid is the synthetic version of Vitamin C, meaning it's made in a lab. I don't think synthetically made vitamins fall under the health-nut umbrella, personally.

Food Network also says that improperly preserved fruit poses a risk for serious food-borne illnesses, such as botulism. If your fruit cup or can has a flawed seal or a dented or leaking container, do not use it.

So, what now?

Our childhood may not have been a complete lie, but it was definitely deceitful. Don't worry, fresh fruit still exists without preservatives or artificial sugar. 

Want to make a delicious fruit cup filled with unpackaged, fresh fruit? Take a look at these articles on how to make your healthy fruit salad truly irresistible and five childhood snacks that are still good for you.

If you're feeling extra spunky–and of age–then learn how to make booze-infused fruit salad. With that, happy healthy eating and maybe just stick to fresh fruit from now on.