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Parental guidance: Nutritious cookies?

Sugar cookies.

Sugar cookies. Credit: iStock

Q. Cookie makers have been marketing certain cookies as being more nutritious -- containing as many vitamins as blueberries or oranges, for instance, or as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal. Should parents feel better about giving their children these cookies because of such claims?

"You don't want your children walking around thinking that the way they can get good nutrition is through eating cookies," says Suzette Smookler, administrator for clinical nutrition and education at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

While she applauds companies for trying to make a "better" treat, parents need to remember that cookies should never be a substitute for fruits and vegetables. They're still sweets -- far higher in calories, sugar and fats. One portion of three cookies, for instance, can be 180 calories, while a medium-size apple would be only about 60, Smookler says.

"Companies are responding to consumers and parents who are much more aware and much more cautious about what their children eat," Smookler says. And the modified cookies are superior to the older cookies, she says.

If you are comparing a cookie with hydrogenated oils, trans fat or high-fructose corn syrup to these modernized versions, the latter would win out, Smookler says. "If you want to talk about it that way -- this cookie versus that cookie -- I suppose you could say this cookie is better," she says. "What's wrong is suggesting to children that cookies are a good source of vitamins and minerals."

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