Health “halo” foods appear to be healthy—they might scream out GLUTEN FREE, ALL NATURAL, or have green accents and other traits people generally perceive as nutritious. These 5 very popular choices do not hold up to closer scrutiny, in my opinion.
- TRISCUIT new Brown Rice blend crackers. I constantly recommend regular Triscuits as a snack food—they only have 3 ingredients and have 3 grams of fiber. But this new brand extension falls short—the ingredient list has more than tripled while the fiber dropped. They’re not even gluten-free. Beth’s Better Bet—regular Triscuits or Triscuit Thin Crisps.
- Clif Kid Z Bar Crispy I was kind of excited when I saw these, as I’m always looking for healthy lunchbox items. Sadly, they have 26 ingredients including SUGAR 7 TIMES! (Organic cane syrup=sugar.) They contain only1 gram each of fiber and protein. What’s the point? Send it as a treat but not as a healthy “anchor” in the lunchbox. Beth’s Better Bet—The granola bar category is mostly filler, mostly low in fiber and protein, with mostly long ingredients lists. A couple better choices include Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars (11 ingredients and an extra gram of fiber) and the regular Clif Kid Z Bar (still tons of ingredients but at least contains 3 grams fiber and 2 grams protein). And by the way, the Kashi bars have even more ingredients and added “filler” fiber. Here is a great recipe for homemade granola bars: http://myyummyinyourtummy.blogspot.com/2011/09/granola-and-then-some-bars.html
- Trader Joe’s Handfuls of Breakfast Trail Mix I am a HUGE fan of Trader Joe’s nuts and trail mixes, but sadly this isn’t one of my favorites. I find it funny that the yogurt chips are “greek flavored”—flavored with a Greek? Instead of the pure and delicious nuts and dried fruits, they’ve added fillers, binders and more sugar. The regular trail mix can sit in a hot car, but these melt into a weird white blob. Sigh. Beth’s Better Bet—Trader Joe’s individually packaged Go Raw or Omega Trek mixes.
- Yoplait Regular Yogurt. Chobani Champions Tubes and regular Yoplait yogurts both contain 5 grams of protein. While the Chobani has an impressively low 8 grams of sugar, the Yoplait has 26 grams of sugar—triple! Why? Beth’s Better Bet—Chobani Champions Tubes and almost any Greek yogurt.
- Soy Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk (“yogurt”) I don’t get this one. 100 calories, zero protein, and 21 ingredients. If you want MCT fats from coconut products, coconut oil would probably be a better choice. The 3 grams of fiber are from a filler—inulin—not the naturally occurring fiber that’s known to benefit health. And yogurt really isn’t supposed to have fiber anyway. Why is this called “cultured coconut milk” instead of yogurt? I’m guessing it doesn’t meet the FDA’s Standards of Identity for Yogurt. Beth’s Better Bet—If you do not tolerate dairy or just prefer to avoid it, I suggest soy yogurt.
If some of these products have looked great to you on the shelf, you are not alone. Companies spend millions on research, development and marketing to draw you in, and nutrition labels are confusing.
For great product ideas, visit www.nutritionskitchen.com. Also, I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s shopping list on www.ornabakes.com