Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Grocery store lessons: Fibre & Omega-3 Granola Bar

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I recently noticed a proliferation of omega-3 fortified food products (Kraft Dinner, granola, and these Fibre & Omega-3 Granola Bars from Quaker). Commercial granola bars are one product that tend to offend my dietetic sensibilities at the best of times. Most of them are candy bars masquerading as health food. These bars are no exception.

The nutrition claim on the front of the package touting “400 mg of omega-3” is extremely misleading. The ingredient list:

GRANOLA (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS [WITH OAT BRAN], BROWN SUGAR, ROLLED WHOLE WHEAT, HONEY, SUNFLOWER OIL, MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS), SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHUNKS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA), CORN SYRUP, CRISP RICE (RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT), INULIN, ROLLED OATS, INVERT SUGAR, MILLED FLAXSEED, BROWN SUGAR, GLYCERIN, SUGAR, SUNFLOWER OIL, BRAN STRANDS (WHEAT BRAN, OAT HULL FIBRE, EVAPORATED CANE JUICE, OAT BRAN, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT, SEA SALT, SODIUM BICARBONATE, COLOUR), HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL AND PALM OILS, ROLLED WHOLE WHEAT, WATER, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOURS, SOYBEAN OIL, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, MOLASSES, BUTTERMILK, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, MILK FAT, SODIUM BICARBONATE, CARAMEL COLOUR, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, POLYSORBATE 60, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), SKIM MILK POWDER.

reveals that the source of omega-3 is milled flaxseed. Given the highly limited ability of your body to convert the ALA omega-3 in flaxseed to the essential DHA and EPA, this equates to less than 1% of your recommended daily DHA and about 1% of your EPA. Not exactly a good source of these nutrients.

In addition, to the misleading front-of package advertising, do you really want to eat (or give your kids to eat) a snack that contains such a lengthy list of ingredients and includes 10 sugars in that list?

You’ll also note the claim that the bars provide 5 g of fibre. That’s actually not bad for a snack. However, if you refer to the list of ingredients, some portion of that fibre come from inulin, which may not provide the same benefits as other sources of fibre.

Remember, nutrition claims on the front of packages are actually advertising.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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