October 1, 2008

Also Going Bananas? Teddy Grahams!

I suppose bananas are having "the best week ever."

A few hours after posting about the inane "morning banana diet" that has taken grip of Japanese dieters, I was browsing the aisles of a local supermarket when I came across... banana Teddy Grahams (so new they aren't even mentioned on the Teddy Graham website!).

For those of you visiting Small Bites from outside the United States, all you need to know is that Teddy Grahams are teddy bear-shaped cookies that are a big hit with young children.

Although the actual product may be for kids, the advertising sure targets the parent/caretaker contingent.

I noticed that plastered on each of these boxes, in very large font, was the statement: "Made with real fruit!"

Oh, goodie. Real fruit! Nutrition! Vitamins! Minerals! Health!

(Insert sound of record coming to abrupt halt HERE.)

Not so fast.

Sure enough, the third ingredient -- before high fructose corn syrup, but after sugar and white flour -- was dried bananas.

"Well, they're trying to make their cookies more nutritious," some of you may think.

Except that there is absolutely no point of putting real fruit into a product that is going to undergo that much processing.

Remember, the more processed a food, the more nutrients it loses. This is why eating a baked potato with its skin provides more nutrition than a handful of Pringles.

This particular flavor of Teddy Grahamas offers 80 milligrams of potassium and almost twice that amount of sodium (food label hint: the more processed a food product, the higher the sodium and the lower the potassium.)

Keep in mind that a small (six-inch long) banana provides 362 milligrams of potassium!

In essence, these dehydrated bananas are simply there to add flavor as well as an illusion of health and the "made with real fruit" tagline.

If parents are looking to make a typically cookie-filled snack time healthier, I recommend gving a child half a serving of regular Teddy Grahams (that's approximately 10 teddies) and a small banana.

There is no reason why children should not be exposed to real pieces of fruit, especially when they have fun mushy textures.

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