Your 6 Favorite Junk Foods Just Got Healthier

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From chocolate bars to chicken nuggets, some of America’s favorite snack foods aren’t exactly the healthiest. But that’s all starting to change.

More consumers are paying attention to nutrition labels, and large food manufacturers are responding. We’ve rounded up six companies that have overhauled their original recipes in order to keep up with the healthier trends in eating.

And while nothing beats fresh, wholesome foods, we think that the strides these companies have made are a step in the right direction.

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1. Nissin Cup Noodles

Just in time for their 45th anniversary, Cup Noodles received a first-ever recipe makeover this week.

The iconic instant ramen brand made three key changes to all eight of its ramen flavors. The changes include reducing sodium content by more than 20 percen, removing all added MSG and swapping all artificial flavors for natural ones.

This means that their original chicken flavor, which had 1,434 milligrams of sodium per serving, now has closer to 1,147 milligrams of sodium per serving. While this number is still pretty high (considering that the American Heart Association recommended people eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day), we applaud Nissin for taking a healthy first step.

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2. Mars M&M’S

No matter what side of the M&M’S vs. Skittles battle you may be on, you’ll soon be able to enjoy both without eating artificial food coloring.

Mars, Inc. announced back in February that it would remove all artificial colors from its food products within the next five years. This change affects more than 50 brands, including M&M’S, Pedigree and Doublemint gum.

And although the seven artificial food colors that are currently approved by the FDA have not been definitively linked to any adverse health effects, researchers have speculated that certain colorings may cause behavioral problems in children, among other issues. For example, Yellow 5 is currently being tested for links to anxiety, migraines, hyperactivity and cancer, according to Forbes.

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3. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets

Last year McDonald’s pledged to stop serving chicken raised on antibiotics that are important to human medicine. This was in response to scientists’ growing concerns that bacteria is quickly adapting and becoming resistant to the widespread overuse of antibiotics.

And on August 1, 2016, the company reported that it had completed this transition — one year ahead of its 2017 deadline. McDonald’s also announced that it had removed artificial preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets, along with some of the breakfast items. We’re stoked to see what else this fast-food chain can bring to the table

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4. Kraft Mac & Cheese

Gone are the synthetic, yellow-orange Mac & Cheese lunches of our childhood.

Last year, Kraft promised to eliminate artificial flavors, preservatives and colors. The company swapped out all artificial colors for ingredients derived from natural sources, such as paprika, annatto and turmeric.

And early this year Kraft secretly released this cleaner version of the original Mac & Cheese — and no one noticed the difference. (Very crafty of you, Kraft!)

This move is one of several steps that the company has made toward healthier fare. In 2014, Kraft launched its Mac & Cheese Boxed Shapes, providing an option with reduced saturated fat and sodium, as well as no synthetic colors. And by 2015, the Boxed Shapes recipe had no artificial flavors or preservatives.

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5. Hershey’s Kisses

The Hershey Company announced in 2015 that it would ax all artificial ingredients and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from some of its most popular brands, including Kisses and Milk Chocolate Bars.

The company is not only moving toward using simpler, easy-to-understand ingredients, but it is also planning to be more transparent about what’s in its products. It has also committed to sourcing 100 percent certified and sustainable cocoa by 2020.

Hershey’s even ranked third this year on Newsweek’s list of Top Green Companies in the U.S.

Kudos, Kisses!


6. Gatorade

PepsiCo Inc., the maker of Gatorade, recently announced their first-ever line of organic sports drinks -- G Organic.

G Organic will contain only seven ingredients: water, organic cane sugar, citric acid, organic natural flavor, sea salt, sodium citrate and potassium chloride. Consumers can look forward to three flavors: lemon, strawberry and mixed berry.

But don’t be fooled by labels -- organic sugar is still sugar. And according to The New York Times, each 16.9 oz bottle of G Organic will contain 7 teaspoons of added sugar. This exceeds the six-teaspoon recommendation provided by the American Heart Association, so you'll want to enjoy the drink in moderation.

Can't wait to try a sip? G Organic is arriving in select stores this fall.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you occasionally snack on some of the items mentioned above? What do you think of these companies’ strides to make their products healthier? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!