Analysis of a Food Label


Last night, I was reintroduced to an old friend.  A friend with whom I used to hang out with every afternoon for years.  We would hang out in the kitchen, on the couch, and even at the beach. 

Dear, ole, sweet Wheat Thins.  Siiiiigh.

I could finish a box of these babies in a week.  Their crunchy semi-salty, semi-sweet, nutty flavor was my snack of choice.  Most often they were used as scoopers for hummus.  Where there were Wheat Thins and hummus, there was Jen.

But I haven’t purchased them in a long while.  I found that I really couldn’t stop eating them once I started, and that probably wasn’t a very good thing. 

I still eat hummus every day as a snack, but I now use carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, or Mary’s Gone Crackers instead.

However, last night at the cookout, there they were in all their glory.  The yellow box was like a gleaming beacon begging me to indulge.  And of course I did.

**NOTE** These are not my hands.  🙂

I didn’t gorge myself on them like I have been known to do in the past, but I did enjoy a few bites of crunchy, nutty bliss dipped in creamy, savory hummus. 

This morning I decided to delve a bit into the nutritional value of these long lost friends. 

wheat thin

Ingredients: WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, MALT SYRUP (FROM BARLEY AND CORN), SALT, INVERT SUGAR, MONOGLYCERIDES, LEAVENING (CALCIUM PHOSPHATE AND/OR BAKING SODA), VEGETABLE COLOR (ANNATTO EXTRACT, TURMERIC OLEORESIN). CONTAINS: WHEAT. BHT ADDED TO PACKAGING MATERIAL TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS.

Doesn’t look too bad.  But what are invert sugars???  How are they different from regular sugars?  What about monoglycerides, malt syrup, reduced iron, and BHT?  I don’t have any of these ingredients in my pantry, and I’m pretty certain I’ve never seen any of these sitting on the shelf of my local grocery store.  

I won’t bore you with the technicalities, but I’ve added a link to each of the above listed ingredients for you to peruse as you see fit.  You will find that many of the above mentioned are added for extra sweetness or as preservatives.

I also looked up the Nuval Score for Wheat Thins, and was not surprised to find that they scored a 23 out of 100

Simply put: Wheat Thins are not a clean food.

In his book, Food Matters, Mark Bittman describes how there is something in the American diet that is causing a rise in obesity rates and an increased incidence of heart disease.  This is less of a problem in countries where the culture includes a more traditional diet, such as those found in Italy, Japan, China, and India. 

These problems, coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle, could very well be  attributed to the amount of processed foods we put into our bodies.

I’m not saying that I will never eat processed foods again.  But I am saying that I would like to increase the amounts of foods I eat that are closer to the source.  I would like to eat foods that I can understand how they came to be.  Seed, soil, water, harvest sounds a bit easier to understand than the very technical language used to describe the process of creating and using monoglycerides and BHT.   

  Are there any foods in your pantry that you would like to replace with a cleaner alternative??? 

~Jen

magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Analysis of a Food Label

  1. Danielle

    If you find out what an invert sugar is, please share 😀

    I eat pretty clean…but it took a while to get to that point!

  2. Interesting stuff! I’ve been meaning to read that book (Food Matters). Thanks for the link to NuvalScore – what a great concept!

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