By Carole Bartolotto, MA,RD
I think we all know that food manufacturers care more about their bottom line—money—than they do about our health. They will say just about anything to sell their products including manipulating serving sizes and making outrageous claims. Let’s take a look at one example.
A colleague wanted to create a list of healthy snacks to share with employees and physicians. One of the options he wanted to include was Snapea Crisps. If you’ve ever had Snapea Crisps, you’d know they are tasty and they seem to be healthy—at least based on the claims on the packaging. But can these claims be trusted?
The package says it’s a “snack salad” and is “baked.”
On the back it says, “Your Salad Never Got Such a Lift!” and that the company, Calbee, has a “….Mission of delivering the farm fresh goodness of vegetables to your table.”
I checked out their website and it says that, “SnackSalad was developed for the many customers who wish to get the healthy benefits of eating salad and fruit more often, but to do so in a more delicious way.”
All of these claims lead you to believe that you are eating something that is healthy and equivalent to a salad. In fact, this product is often found in the produce section of the market.
I think many people believe that Snapea Crisps are puffed peas. But actually they are ground-up green peas, genetically modified corn oil, white rice, salt, and preservatives, formed into a pea shape, and baked! A review of the Nutrition Facts reveals that 1 ounce of these crisps has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat. The more information I gathered about Snapea Crisps, the less they sounded like a salad. And the more they sounded like a bag of potato chips.
Both Snapea Crisps and Lay’s potato chips have 150 calories, similar grams of fat per ounce, and are highly processed. The difference between Lay’s potato chips and Snapea Crisps is that you know you are eating junk food when you grab a bag of chips. However, many people think they are making a healthy choice if they choose Snapea Crisps.
Is there a better option? Why not try sugar snap peas? With just 41 calories for an entire cup, you can get a tasty, crunchy, low-calorie snack without any processed carbs, white rice, or calorie dense fat.
The moral of this story is to pay attention to the labels and claims on processed foods. More importantly, stick with whole foods as often as you can. I love Michael Pollan’s quote from his book Food Rules, which certainly applies in this situation.
“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
See my update on Snapea Crisps here.
Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.