October 23, 2008

Twisted Logic

For many people, "yogurt" equals "health food."

Although there are cases where this is far from true (i.e.: flavored yogurts that, despite already being sweetened with two tablespoons of added sugar, provide crushed Oreos or tiny M&M's to be added as toppings), plain yogurt is a wonderful source of calcium, protein, and -- in most cases -- probiotic bacteria.

It is no surprise that food companies are always eager to add a pinch of a healthy (or at least healthy sounding) ingredient to their own proucts in hopes of attracting the eyes -- and wallets -- of health-conscious consumers.

Case in point: yogurt pretzels.

Let's begin by keeping in mind that an ounce of regular pretzels adds up to:

110 calories
0 grams of saturated fat

0.5 grams of sugar

Now, consider the nutrition values -- and ingredients -- offered by the yogurt-covered variety.

A 1-ounce serving of Flipz (a prototypical brand of yogurt pretzels) contains:

130 calories
4.5 grams of saturated fat

13 grams of sugar

Although the caloric difference is minimal, we are talking about 20% of a day's worth of saturated fat and a tablespoon of added sugar.

And if you think the yogurt provides calcium, think again.

A serving of Flipz only offers two percent of the calcium daily value -- only as much as one and a half tablespoons of actual yogurt.

It all makes sense when you look at the ingredient list and see that the first ingredient in these pretzels is "yogurt coating," which is mainly made up of sugar and palm kernel oil -- a saturated fat.

Alas, yogurt pretzels undoubtedly fall into the "sweet treat" category.

Consider this: eight Nabisco Nilla Wafers (that's considered one serving) contain only 10 more calories than a serving of yogurt pretzels, as well as a third of the saturated fat and a few less grams of sugar.

Some more food for thought?

Four Nilla Wafers accompanied by a cup of skim milk provide just 40 more calories than a serving of yogurt pretzels, but also half the added sugar, one tenth of the saturated fat, and a third of the calcium daily value.

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