Healthy or Dressed Up Junk Food?

While standing in the checkout line today in the grocery store, I noticed a product in the impulse purchase area (the items near checkout that allows you to grab them without much thought ) and I was drawn in.  I typically get questions about specific items and so I like to give a look when I notice something new.

This box was clean and simple, and clearly appealing to a consumer who would like a healthy product.  Some standard buzz words, “gluten free” and “low sodium” , float above six single items that lead you to believe that those are the only six ingredients, and they are seemingly healthy choices – nuts, dried fruits and dark chocolate. 

 I believe most consumers looking for a healthy trail mix or bar type product would try this believing this to be a healthy choice.  Intrigued, I look at the ingredients and nutritional panel.  I found that there are actually 14 ingredients in this product.  The additional ingredients are chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (this is an inexpensive way to recreate dark chocolate), sunflower oil, sugar, salt.  There are 13 grams of added sugars and that is separate from the naturally occurring sugars in the dark cherries and the cranberries.  Sunflower oil has some health claims, but I’m not a fan as it is high in omega 6 fatty acids.  These are associated with inflammation, and I’m always recommending that people include more omega 3 fatty acids that are associated with anti-inflammatory properties. The sunflower oils are yet to be GMO and are more favorable than the typical GMO soy, corn and canola oils. The product proudly boasts that it is Non-GMO.
At face value, the product is Non-GMO, low in sodium, gluten free and offering a handy, non-refrigerated snack item.  While this is not a fast food fiasco full of offensive and toxic compounds, this is not as healthy as the label leads you to believe.  If you’re going to include added sugars, by all means have a pastry!  Don’t waste it on trail mix!
Buy your own dry roasted cashews, almonds, peanuts, craisins, (read the labels on these, too!) tart cherries and dark chocolate chips (read the label!) and make your own trail mix.  I frequently do this with a variety of nuts, dried fruits and dark chocolate.  Place all your ingredients on a large bowl an scoop out 1/3 cup and place in baggies or reusable containers.  You have a pre-portioned trail mix that IS a healthier option!
Great for on the go, grab and go snacks that don’t require refrigeration!
Serving 1/3 cup
 1 cup cashews1 cup almond2 cup walnuts1/2 dark chocolate chips

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