Pop Tarts: Health Food?

Imagine my surprise when I found this in a hospital’s vending machine. At first, I thought my eyes must be deceiving me. Surely that little red symbol did not indicate some kind of “healthy” product? Sadly, though, here is what I found:

health your way Pop Tarts™ and Rice Krispies Treats are apparently considered healthier choices in hospital-vending-machine-world. I went ahead and looked up Sodexo’s criteria for this “Your Health Your Way” designation:

Your Health Your Way Criteria for Desserts & Snacks:

Desserts and SnacksMeet all of the criteria across this row OR 4 of the criteria AND must have at least 10% of the Daily Value of one or more major nutrients, such as Vitamin A, C, E, Iron, Calcium or Protein ≤ 200 kcal ≤ 35% of calories from fat OR ≤ 8g total fat ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat Trans Fat-Free (< 0.5g) ≤ 20mg cholesterol ≤ 300mgsodium ≥ 1g fiber

From <http://mindful.sodexo.com/nutritioncriteria.html>

Technically one single Pop Tart™ does meet these requirements, weighing in at 210 kcal, 8 g total fat, 190 mg sodium, 10% DV iron, calcium and vitamin C, and 2 g of protein – and don’t forget the 12 g of sugar.  However, when the “pastries” are served in a package of two we all know the chances that just one gets eaten. Also, check out the ingredient list:

ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), BROWN SUGAR (SUGAR, MOLASSES), SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL (WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS), CORN SYRUP, DEXTROSE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CRACKER MEAL, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CORNSTARCH, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), CINNAMON, WHEAT STARCH, GELATIN, CARAMEL COLOR, SOY LECITHIN, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, NIACINAMIDE, REDUCED IRON, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), FOLIC ACID.

From <http://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/pop-tarts-frosted-brown-sugar-cinnamon-toaster-pastries.html>

 Yum yum. And this , my friends, is why we do not assess the value of a food based on the numbers.

 

Camille

Hi there. I’m Camille. I’m an associate professor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology and pathophysiology. I’m also a licensed nutritionist, specializing in fertility and reproductive health. (I’m not taking any new clients!) Lastly but not leastly, I’m a mom, a gardener and a really horrible housekeeper.

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