Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Links and Labels

A quick note to anybody who happens to read my blog: I think it is very important to independently research any statement made online, especially some random person's blog ;) To make this easier for readers, I will include links in my posts to abstracts of articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Most of these will can be found on pubmed, an excellent resource for anyone interested in educating themselves about current issues in health and medicine. If you follow the links, I encourage you to dig further and use links on the site to sources and related citations. The information is out there for the public and it's up to us to inform ourselves! Stepping off my "soapbox"...

Yesterday's post talked about the yummy vegetarian chili I cooked up for Meatless Monday. Besides being delicious, the meal turned out to be educational. As we sat scooping up our ├╝ber healthy, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory chili and shoveling it into our faces with saltines, my husband decided to read the nutrition label on the saltines sitting on the table. I have recently started buying an organic brand, more because they taste much better than our usual crackers than for any nutritional reason (since after all a processed food is a processed food).

Well, according to the nutrition label our "healthy" crackers are not so healthy after all ;) A serving size is 4 crackers and contains 60 calories, 20 of which come from fat. They contain no dietary fiber and 1 measly gram of protein. This got me curious so I pulled out the box of "regular" saltines. A serving size of those is 5 crackers and contains 60 calories, 10 of which come from fat. I don't general worry too much about fat intake and since neither types of cracker had trans or saturated fats, but all-in-all neither cracker is providing much nutritional benefit. And I don't know about anyone else, but my husband and I can easily polish off at least 12 crackers each with a bowl of chili. That's 144-180 "extra" calories added to our otherwise nutrition-packed meal. It wasn't enough to make us switch back from our buttery-tasting saltines to the old kind, let alone quit enjoying saltines with our chili, but it did stop us both from reaching into the box for a second helping.

I don't currently count calories or even worry too much about them, but this was a good reminder that it is important to read nutrition labels and plan a meal accordingly. Serving sizes can be deceptively tiny so munching "blindly" from the box might not be the best idea. I also might try to find some whole grain saltines with at least a little dietary fiber next time - we'll see ;)


ampursell said...

Good info! If you find a better brand, let me know. I also enjoy those little "condiments" and could always use a healthier alternative as I find they usually taste just about as good, if not sometimes better than the usual brand.

ABnot said...

Al, I sure will let you know if I find something with more fiber, etc. The ones I have been buying are delicious - way better tasting than the usual brand. They are also organic and only slightly more calorie dense - I just need to not eat half the box in one sitting! :D