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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Why are we so nuts about crisps? Ok they’re a quick snack. Something to accompany that pint down the pub. Or something handy to keep hunger at bay on the tube. But most parents know that they definitely aren’t a healthy snack for kids.

Yet according to a recent study, parents are more likely to offer their child crisps as a snack than nuts: a healthier substitute. This is why Dr Dawn Harper has started an initiative to educate parents on their nutritional value.

Nuts: A healthy alternative


According to a new survey, only 14% of parents are aware of the nutritional value of nuts. This could explain why they don’t regularly offer them as a snack to their children.

Nuts are a healthier snacking option naturally high in vitamins , minerals, protein, fibre and good fats. Yet parents are twice as likely to give their children crisps as a snack.

Too salty

On average UK kids snack on over 1.4bn bags of crisps a year. In the process they consume a whopping 657 tonnes of salt. Nuts would seem to be a wiser alternative.

Ironically enough, the Censuswide study of 1,000 parents found that the main reason for parents choosing not to give their parents nuts was because they believed they were too salty. In fact, a 20g bag of almonds contains 64% less salt than a portion of ready salted crisps of the same weight.

Nutritional Value

Dr Dawn Harper hopes to change these misconceptions through her new campaign. Almonds, hazelnuts and cashews, are a great source of protein. They also provide other nutrients to help muscle and bone development. In addition to this they aide energy release and build a healthy immune system.

Better snacking

Through her campaign, she hope that parents will begin to substitute healthy snacks like crisps for the healthier alternative and help to combat issues such as obesity and high salt intake.

Dr Dawn Harper said: “Despite the fact almost a quarter of parents say they give their children a snack as a way of getting extra nutrients into their diet, they also reveal that they prefer to give their child sugary and salty snacks like crisps and cereal bars. We want to change that. Nuts are a great, tasty way of getting good fats, and key vitamins and minerals into the diet which can help children’s growth, development and cognitive function.”

Allergy Concerns

The survey also shows that allergies are a concern, with a fifth of parents giving it as a key reason for choosing other types of snack.

Though serious, nut allergies  are not common affecting just 2% of children, with most allergic to peanuts specificall. If planning to give your child nuts to consume outside of home it is best to check if they will be around other children with nut allergies.

Starting young

As long as there are no allergies, the NHS advises that nuts can be given to babies once they are 6 months old. Naturally, nuts will have to be unsalted and crushed or ground into a nut butter. Children over the age of 5 can begin to consume whole nuts.

As always, when feeding young children, parents should ensure pieces are small enough to avoid the risk of chocking. Crushed or halved nuts are best.

A spokesperson for the BDA said: “It’s alarming to see that many healthy foods such as nuts aren’t getting the air time they need to ensure parents are aware of the benefits they can have for their children. Primary aged children would benefit massively from adding more unsalted nuts, and less crisps, sweets and chocolate to their diets.”