Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


Leave a comment

Grocery Store Lessons: Excel Naturally Sweetened Gum

Last week my friend Mark tweeted this:

20160618_155206

I think our fear of “unnatural” or “artificial” ingredients has gone too far. I’m generally one to go for real sugar any day over artificial sweeteners. I prefer the flavour and I’m of the opinion that a little of the “real” thing is better than a lot of the fake. In some case though it just doesn’t make sense to be choosing real sugar.

There is no benefit to choosing sugar-sweetened gum over gum sweetened with sugar alcohols. We know that sugar consumption, especially when in products that spend a long time in the mouth (such as gum) promotes the development of cavities. While xylitol (the sugar alcohol generally found in sugar-free gums) may not be the great cavity preventer it was originally touted as, it certainly doesn’t promote the development of cavities like sugary gum does.

It’s beyond me why anyone would think that a “natural” (and come on, how natural is commercial chewing gum anyway?) gum containing sugar is a superior choice over artificially sweetened gum. Shame on Excel for taking advantage of the fear of the “unnatural” by reverting to a product that is likely to incense dentists, dietitians, and doctors alike. File this product under another great example of a natural fallacy.


Leave a comment

Grocery Store Lessons: Liberte Baby Yoghurt

8064078

Baby yoghurt isn’t a new product. I had thought about blogging about it a while ago and then forgot and then thought that it had been discontinued. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. File this one under ridiculous unnecessary products that you never need to buy.

There is no reason that a baby needs yoghurt with added sugar. And that’s what this product is. It’s a series of yoghurts with 6% milk fat. You’re supposed to start them on the plain (with a mere teaspoon of sugar per 75 gram package). Ingredients: whole milk, cream, cane sugar, milk protein concentrate, bacterial cultures, and vitamin D. Then you can progress to the yoghurts at “step 2”; banana or strawberry.

The banana and strawberry both have 7 grams (just under two teaspoons of sugar) per 75 gram serving.

Ingredients in the banana: whole milk, fruit preparation (banana puree [i.e. flavoured sugar], cane sugar, water, tapioca starch, pectin, natural flavour, lemon juice concentrate), cream, cane sugar, milk protein, concentrate, bacterial cultures, and vitamin D.

Ingredients in the strawberry: whole milk, fruit preparation (strawberry pureecane sugar, water, rice starch, natural flavour, carrot juice concentrate, cranberry juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate), cream, cane sugar, milk protein concentrate, bacterial cultures, vitamin D.

Babies don’t need sweetened yoghurt. Just because many adults need sugary flavoured yoghurts doesn’t mean that babies do. Their tastebuds are much more sensitive than ours and they’re also learning what they like (and dislike). There’s no need for us to impose our preferences and sweet teeth on them. Lots of babies enjoy the tangy taste of plain full-fat yoghurt.

Parents don’t need to shell out the extra cash for smaller servings of plain yoghurt for their babies. Save your cash and get unsweetened plain yoghurt for your baby.


9 Comments

Grocery store lessons: Catelli “SuperGreens” pasta

I was getting some groceries last week when I saw a new product in the pasta aisle. Catelli SuperGreens”.

PicFrame

Immediately I said, “I feel a blog post coming on!”.

Remember that vegetable bread? Total scam, right? And, according to my sources, pretty revolting to boot. Well, this pasta is no different (at least in the scam regard, I presume it tastes much like regular pasta).

How did Catelli get the vegetables in the pasta? Well, they added some vegetable powders (spinach, zucchini, broccoli, parsley, and kale). Super! Green! Hold-up though, before you decide your plate of pasta counts as your vegetables for the day think about how that compares to actual vegetables. Well, because of the processing that the veggies have undergone to become powders, and because the quantities added are likely negligible, there’s no comparing the two. You’re not getting any of the vitamins and minerals that you would by eating any of those actual vegetables.

I was curious how this “SuperGreens” pasta would compare to regular pasta. Catelli didn’t seem to have a plain old pasta option in the same format so I opted to look at their “Smart” pasta which is just regular pasta with added fibre.

PicFrame (1)

As you can see, nutritionally the “SuperGreens” is nearly identical to the “Smart” pasta. In fact, the “Smart” pasta may be slightly better from a nutritional standpoint as it’s got more B vitamins, more fibre, and less sodium (although these differences are fairly minuscule).

If you like this new “SuperGreens” pasta, there’s nothing wrong with eating it. Just know that it doesn’t contribute to your vegetable servings. There’s nothing “super” about this, except maybe the marketing tactic. There’s nothing green about it either, except maybe the cash Catelli will be pulling in from the ridiculous representation of this product. You know what goes great with pasta though? A vegetable-rich sauce.

 


2 Comments

Grocery store lessons: Steem Peanut butter

Image from pixabay, used under a Creative Commons Licence.

Image from pixabay, used under a Creative Commons Licence.

One of my dietitian friends alerted me to this new product, caffeinated peanut butter, the other day and suggested a blog post might be in order.

Now, I love peanut butter. I also love coffee. Heck I even have a jar of vanilla espresso flavoured peanut butter in my cupboard right now. But I still fail to understand why anyone would ever think that caffeinated peanut butter would be a good idea. It boggles my mind.

According to their website,  this caffeinated peanut butter is for you if you’re stuck with only access to horrible coffee or don’t want to lug your bodum camping but want to avoid those pesky caffeine withdrawal fuelled headaches. Essentially, if you’re seriously addicted to caffeine, instead of considering cutting back, you can just tote a jar of peanut butter around with you everywhere. People with peanut allergies be damned.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind bringing along a bodum or percolator when I’m camping. They don’t take up a whole lot of space and on chilly mornings a hot beverage is going to hit the spot a lot more than a spoonful of peanut butter. And if you’re so tired that you’re nodding off behind the wheel get off the freaking road. I find it horrifying that people might be popping spoonfuls of peanut butter while driving to prevent themselves from falling asleep at the wheel.

What’s even scarier about this product is the fact that a single serving contains 150 mg of caffeine. I’m assuming that a single serving is the standard two tablespoons. That’s a lot of caffeine in a little peanut butter. Considering that most people probably use more than that (sadly, I can’t find any statistics indicating how much people usually spread on their bread) you could easily be getting upwards of half the daily recommended maximum dose of caffeine (that’s 400 mg, or about three 8 oz cups of coffee) in your PB&J alone.

Despite the warnings on the website about not feeding the peanut butter to your dog, I worry about the potential for children to consume an excessive amount of caffeine if they were to get their hands on a jar. A single serving of STEEM contains more caffeine than children at any age can safely consume. Lest you think that I’m overreacting, there can be serious consequences to caffeine overdose; including, seizure and death. Even without overdosing, we don’t know what the long-term effects of caffeine consumption in children are. We do know that adequate sleep is essential for good health and that most children are not getting enough sleep. Caffeine consumption can be used to counteract the effects of insufficient sleep, in turn leading to decreased sleep at night, and can quickly become a vicious cycle. We also don’t know what the long-term physiological effects of caffeine exposure may be in children.

As far as I’m concerned, the answer to the question “who is STEEM for” is no one.


4 Comments

Grocery store lessons: Big Slice apples

Oh hai. Did you miss me? Well, I missed you! Sorry for the hiatus. We were moving and I was starting a new job (eeee!!!) and we had no internets. But, now it’s the weekend (no, sorry, it’s Monday, sit back down) as I write this and it’s a beautiful day for blogging on the balcony with a Beau’s. I’d like to thank my friend Hannah for the blogspiration, making it easy for me to jump right back into it.

Have you seen this Big Slice product? I hadn’t, but Hannah wanted me to confirm her suspicions that it was essentially health washing (and certainly price jacking) of apple pie filling.

Let’s do a little comparison shall we?

Here’s the nutrition info for the Big Slice cinnamon french toast flavour:

FullSizeRender (4)

And here’s the nutrition info for a standard serving of apple pie filling:

IMG_3567

Naturally one would have to be by weight and the other by volume but let’s assume they’re similar serving sizes. They both clock in at 80 calories, contain pretty much the same amounts of carbs (20 g in the pie filling versus 21 in the “snack”) which consist of mostly sugar (16 g in the pie filling and 17 g in the “snack” – that’s roughly four teaspoons of sugar in that little pouch!). They also both contain essentially no other nutrients although the “snack” does contain a whole whack of vitamin C (because it’s used as a preservative). The ingredients are strikingly similar as well; don’t be fooled by the “snack” listing “apple and/or white grape juice concentrate” that’s just sugar by another name.

So, now that we know that these apple “slices” are basically over-packaged, over-priced apple pie filling, just for fun, let’s look at how they compare to an actual apple. One medium apple is approximately 180 grams (more than twice as much as the apple “snack”) but only contains about 95 calories. It does contain more sugar than the apple “snack” (about 1/2 teaspoon more) but none of that is added sugar and for more than twice the serving size it’s a much better choice. It also has a bit more than twice the fibre of the apple “snack” making it a good source of fibre rather than a middling one. It’s convenient, coming with it’s own protective packaging (aka skin) and affordable (generally about 80 cents at the store), and environmentally friendly (the core is biodegradable). All told, a much better choice than the Big Slice apple snacks.

Don’t buy the hype. Big Slice apples are not a “healthy snack”. If you want to send your child to school with a processed apple coated in sickly sweet sauce then consider portioning out a can of apple pie filling into Tupperware containers. You might not be saving your child from cavities and poor eating habits but at least you’d be doing your bank account and the environment a favour.