Friday, February 21, 2014

Fooducate Friday #1

This is the first ever 'Fooducate Friday' here on Virgin Vittles. Every Friday, I will list 1-2 food items which I have scanned or searched for within the smartphone Fooducate app. Each item will show the results as determined by Fooducate and the details of those results. I have a feeling we are going to be surprised by the results more than a few times during this new journey!

If you are not familiar with Fooducate, see my earlier blog on this wonderful smartphone app here. Download the Fooducate app for your smartphone through iTunes or Google Play. If you are curious about any food or beverage items and would like me to look it up then leave your suggestion in the comments section of any Fooducate Friday post.

Eating Right Cereal - Granola with Raisins

My first scan was a box of cereal in my own kitchen which was a new product buy for me. This was the first time I had ever purchased this particular cereal and I had been eating it all week as a breakfast staple. It's incredibly delicious! The funny thing is...I had this gut-feeling that deep down this cereal probably wasn't one of the healthier options I could've made for a breakfast cereal and I should've followed my instincts because 99.9% of the time I'm right.

The Fooducate Grade: C+
Calories: 210 per serving
FoodPoints = 6*

First of all, a C+ grade for a breakfast cereal is actually about average. If you're going for a super healthy meal plan, cereal in general is just not your best option. But, I'm one of those people who will always love cereal and the convenience it brings, especially being a wife and mother of the pickiest 2-year-old on the planet where most of my meal planning revolves around my child's meals and dinnertime. But it's not just the grade you should be looking at when using Fooducate, it's also the details.

Let's look at the positive benefits first...
  1. Heart Healthy - According to Fooducate, this cereal is a "great choice" when it comes to meeting the American Heart Association's recommendations for heart healthy foods.
  2. Daily Fiber - This particular cereal contains more than 16% of our daily recommendation of fiber. Fiber is extremely important; it helps protect against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer and it also helps regulate your weight by helping the body feel full longer.
  3. Vitamin C - This cereal is naturally high in Vitamin C which means the Vitamin C within this product comes from real food, not as a fortified ingredient - this is very important.

Negative aspects...
  1. GMO's - This particular cereal has a high probability of containing GMO's. EEK! Not only is this product not indicated as a Non-GMO product, but it also contains one of the following ingredients (or derivative) which all have a high probability of containing GMO's: alfalfa, canola, cotton, corn, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini, and yellow squash.
  2. Trans-Fats - This cereal contains trans-fats, even if the label says 0. Tans-fats have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by raising levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering levels of HDL (good cholesterol). The FDA states that if the amount of trans-fat in a product is less than half a gram per serving then manufacturers can round it down to 0. This means that if the trans-fat within the product is 0.49 grams per serving, which is still bad for you, the manufacturer can list it on the packaging as 0 grams per serving. Not to mention that the serving size listed is almost always way smaller than what an actual serving size is. This is just one of many ways manufacturers trick you into thinking their product is a lot healthier than it actually is. Fooducate to the rescue!!! Information can be powerful and life-changing! And if you're wondering how to know if a product contains trans-fat, even if the package says 0, look for "partially hydrogenated" oils and fats in the ingredient list.
  3. Sugars - This product contains 4.5 teaspoons of sugars per serving. At first, when you read that, it doesn't really seem like a lot. Well, I actually went into my kitchen and measured out 4.5 teaspoons, perfectly, onto a small plate. I photographed the results because it blew my mind seeing how much 4.5 teaspoons actually were. AND THIS IS IN ONE SERVING OF 2/3 CUP OF CEREAL! 
  4. BHT - It contains a controversial additive called butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT for short. This is an additive that has shown up in some studies to be carcinogenic.
4.5 tsp of sugar in each serving! Yikes!
So far, the details are showing that the negative aspects greatly outweigh the positive benefits of this cereal. Even though there is only one more negative aspect than positive ones, there are four negative aspects total and they are all very bad ones. Let's look at some more details, shall we?

To be aware of...

Net carbs for this cereal is 41 grams per serving. Net carbs are the best way to calculate the carb intake that is most important for you to track. This number is calculated by subtracting the fiber amount from the total carb amount. Fiber is a good carb, therefore there is no need for you to be worrying about this number unless you are wanting to make sure you're getting enough. It's the other carbs we need to worry about. This number is actually fairly high if you're someone who is trying to lose weight.

This cereal contains glycerin which has as many calories as sugar but a lower glycemic index. It is usually used as a sweetener, thickener, or preservative and is actually considered a carb except most companies don't list it as so. Since glycerin is also used to keep food moist, it can also cause water retention in the body. People with heart, liver, or kidney problems should try and avoid this ingredient.

Another ingredient in this product is corn syrup. Though this is NOT the same as high fructose corn syrup which is controversial in itself, corn syrup is made up of 50% sugar and 50% of another type of carbohydrate called "oligosaccharides" which is very close to sugar; yet, corn syrup isn't truly calculated into the amount of sugar listed on product packaging. "What does that mean exactly?" It means that if the packaging on a product lists a low amount of sugar per serving, but lists "corn syrup" in the ingredients listed, then the product actually has more carbs from sugar than it states on the package.

This cereal contains soy lethicin. Lecithins are an oily substance that occur naturally in plants and animals like soybeans and egg yolks, respectively. Soy lethicins are a very common ingredient in processed foods and is even sold as a nutritional supplement, stating it benefits the heart, brain, liver, and overall athletic performance, but it may not be as good for you as it claims to be. Because soy lethicin originates from soy, it has a high probability to be genetically modified. That's only the start of your worries when it comes to this particular ingredient. Soy lethicin has the potential to have very negative effects on fertility and reproduction as well as brain development. For more detailed information about these effects, read here

*FoodPoints are calculated by Fooducate and it is based on fats, carbs, fiber, and protein. These points are similar to Weight Watchers points. If you have the Fooducate app on your phone you can actually personalize your information and weight goals and it will give you a recommendation of how many FoodPoints per day you should be eating in order to reach your goals. 

So what are some healthy alternatives?
  1. Nature's Path Cereal - Organic Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch (A-)
  2. Nature's Path Granola - Pumpkin (B+)
  3. Nature's Path Cereal - Whole O's (B+)
  4. Nature's Path Granola - Vanilla Almond (B+)
  5. Nature's Path Granola - Hemp Plus (B+)
  6. KIND Granola - Dark Chocolate and Cranberry Clusters (B)
  7. Two Moms In The Raw - Raisin Granola (B-)
  8. Nature's Path Granola - Dark Chocolate and Red Berries (B-)
Nature's Path is an amazing cereal and is always listed in the top alternative options within the Fooducate app. This is one of the main cereals I usually purchase and it can be found at your local health foods store. I live near Portland, Oregon and I can easily find it at New Seasons Market. In fact, they carry about every kind of Nature's Path cereal and granola that's available,'s actually fairly cheap!

KIND Granola is one of the best granolas out there you can find,'s expensive. I have had intentions to purchase a KIND product several times but never end up purchasing it because of the price. If a budget is the least of your worries then I highly recommend KIND's products!

Thank you for joining me on our first Fooducate Friday! Check back in next Friday to see what the next item will uncover using our fabulous Fooducate app!

No comments:

Post a Comment