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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Foods with The Highest And The Least Nutrition Content

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (Ralph Nader Group) has developed a rating scale to help people make more informed choices about the foods they eat. It is an open-ended scale that is based on a comparison of the beneficial components of a food to its harmful components. The higher the rating, the more nutritious the food.

In the snack food category, carrots have the highest nutritional rating, 48, because their high vitamin A and fiber content far outweigh, any detrimental components. Following carrots are green peppers, 44 (vitamin C and fiber); apples, 23 (fiber, iron, pectin); unbuttered, unsalted popcorn, 19 (fiber, eating satisfaction); celery, 17 (fiber, trace minerals); and potato chips, 15.

On the low end of the snack food scale are Twinkies, -34 (fat, sugar); jelly-beans, -38 (sugar, no nutrients); and Hershey's milk chocolate without nuts, -42 (sugar, cocoa, caffeine).

Desserts: Cantaloupe, 60, is rated highest, followed by strawberries, 34. Vanilla ice milk, 7, is rated higher than vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt, 3, which ranks much higher than vanilla ice cream, -22. And, then there's: Sara Lee chocolate cake, -26 and chocolate ├ęclairs, -30.

Dannon Fruit Yogurt contains the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar in each cup. Croissants are extremely high in fat. 59% of the 200 calories in Pepperidge Farm and Sara Lee's all-butter croissants come from fat. Compare this to the 5%-10% fat in breads, muffins and bagels.

Quiche is equally bad. More than half the calories in the crust come from fat. The basic filling of cheese, eggs, cream and bacon contains 25-27 grams of fat per serving... the equivalent of 7 teaspoons of lard. Wow!

Gourmet TV dinners are junkier than others. All of them are too high in salt. The difference lies in their fat content. Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers dinners have a lower percentage of fat than the others, but Le Menu and Armour Dinner Classics contain as much fat as the old-line Banquet or Morton dinners.

Snacks: Granola bars, which used to be more nutritious than chocolate bars, are getting more and more junky as the manufacturers begin adding more candy ingredients. Per ounce, Nature Valley Granola clusters contain 3.3 teaspoons of added sugar, the same amount that's in a Snicker's bar, and more than in Nestle's Crunch, Hershey's milk chocolate with almonds or Mr. Goodbar, which contain only 2.7 teaspoons added sugar. Quaker Honey & Oats Granola Bar is the best of the lot, with only 1.5 teaspoons of added sugar... less than half the sugar of a Nature Valley bar.

Low-calorie crackers: Wheatsworth Wheat thins make you think they're full of whole-wheat flour ... but they contain 10 times more white flour than wheat, and 42% of their calories come from fat. Similarly, Keebler's Harvest Wheat Crackers are labeled "a blend of hearty wheat," but that's not the same as whole wheat. White flour and fat provide 51% of the calories in these crackers.

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