Healthy Candy Bars and Paleo-Bashing

A Daily Meal’s slideshow list of the 7 healthiest candy bars caught my eye. I was expecting obscure brands, but was surprised to find several classics.

For each winner, there is a link to the manufacturer’s site, which offers nutritional info – calories, sodium and percentages of RMDAs – but not ingredients. Hershey’s site notes, “Ingredients information for this flavor is not available online at this time. Please consult the package label or call us at (800) 468-1714 for further information.” So I found an independent site called Food Facts – which also assigns each food item numbers and letter grades.

Kit Kat: 18 – 26 D (Give me a break!)
Sugar, Flour, Cocoa Butter, Milk Non-Fat, Chocolate, Palm Kernel Oil Refined, Lactose, Milk Fat, Contains 22% or less Soya Lecithin, PGPR, Emulsifier(s), Yeast, Sodium Bicarbonate, Vanillin, Flavor(s) Artificial

Dove Dark: 27 – 34 D+ (I actually bought a bag of these a few months ago)
Chocolate Semisweet (Sugar, Chocolate, Chocolate Processed With Alkali, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial)

Hershey’s Air Delight: (Perhaps is too new to be on the list)
Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Milk, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Lactose (from milk), Milk Fat, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, E476), Flavouring (Vanillin)).

3 Muskeeters: 0-9 F (I always preferred Milky Way)
Ingredients: Milk Chocolate, Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Lactose, Milk Skim, Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali, Corn Syrup, Milk Fat, Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Chocolate Processed With Alkali, Flavor(s) Artificial, Egg(s) Whites

100 Grand: 0-9 F (I loved the old musical commercial with gangsters, but not the bar)
Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Milk Non-Fat, Lactose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin An Artificial Flavor) , Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Milk Non-Fat, Rice Crisp (Rice Flour, Sugar, Salt, Barley, Malt, Traces of Wheat Gluten) , Coconut Oil, Butter, Mono and Diglycerides, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Flavoring Artificial and Natural

Twix: 10-17 D- (Never liked these)
Ingredients: Chocolate Milk (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Milk Nonfat, Lactose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, PGPR, Flavor(s) Artificial) , Sugar, Wheat Flour Enriched (Wheat Flour, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)) , Palm Oil, Corn Syrup, Milk Nonfat, Dextrose, Contains 2% or less of the following: (Food Starch Modified, Salt, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Flavor(s) Artificial)

York Peppermint Patties: 52-59 C+ (I eat one occasionally)
Ingredients: Sugar, Chocolate Semisweet, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa, Lactose, Corn Syrup, Egg(s) Whites, Sugar Invert, Milk, PGPR, Soya Lecithin, Vanillin, Peppermint Oil

I was surprised that Peppermint Patties scored a C+ with corn syrup. Even the highest rated candy bars on Food Facts – those by Atkins, Dagoba or Newman’s Own – are only C+.

Browsing Food Facts a bit, I found that the regular Brown Cow yogurt I buy at Whole Foods is not in Food Fact’s database, but the lowfat version only rates a 43-51 C. The top-rated yogurts are Earth’s Best (which is baby food) and Siggi’s Non-Fat Strained Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt 68-76 B. Siggi’s tastes somewhat bitter, but so do many of the so-called Greek yogurts that are spreading through the shelves.

I was reading a political article from Der Speigel, and ran across another caustic look at the Paleo diet citing evolutionary biologist Marlene Suk and other scientists miffed at the concept that there once was a natural diet that kept our ancestors healthy.

The paleo craze has now reached Germany. … The meat and vegetable fanatics are seriously convinced that mankind committed a grave sin by learning how to cultivate land more than 10,000 years ago, and that the resulting changes in nutrition led to disease and lingering illness. They are convinced that scourges of civilization, like arteriosclerosis, diabetes and high blood pressure, are all fruits of the so-called Neolithic Revolution.

I will certainly stipulate that the foods I eat are vastly removed from what was available during paleolithic times, and though I am unfamiliar with the claims of Walter L. Voegtlin or Loren Cordain, I have read doomerish opinions elsewhere that farming was a dangerous first step away from sustainable foraging. But I don’t consider those issues very important to the person who is trying to eat better. I do shy away from eating a great deal of meat, but otherwise I think the paleo focus on avoiding overly-processed and refined foods is a sound idea. Humans are adaptable, but candy bars will never be healthy.

In, The REAL Paleo Diet, Men’s Health admits:

The paleo diet gets a lot of things right. First and foremost, it’s a simple and effective system for reducing your daily calories without starving or depriving yourself of important nutrients. The recommended foods include most of the best protein sources—meat, fish, poultry, eggs—along with plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It’s hard to go wrong with a diet in which 100 percent of the foods are unprocessed, with no added sugar or salt.

But then they go on to cite the unusual sustenance taken by nomads like the Comanche or the Maasai, reasoning that if the Paleo Diet is sound, we should slavishly emulate those paleolithic peoples that ate curdled milk, raw blood or even other paleolithic people. I suspect my neighbors are too fatty to fit in a good paleo diet, but importing lean third-worlders would probably run afoul of the INS.

According to an article in Seeking Alpha, The Paleo Diet Surge And Its Effect On General Mills And Coca-Cola, the real sin of the Paleo Diet is that it challenges profit centers of the food industry:

…the paleolithic diet which, like Atkins, is based on a low carbohydrate intake, but unlike Atkins, has the potential to make long lasting impact, changing the way Americans eat on a long term basis. Basically, instead of making a one year dent in pasta sales, the paleo diet could cause the food industry to restructure itself long term.

That sounds right because we have cut out all sodas and most cereals. I had been eating Joe’s Os and the like instead of the major brands, but over the last year, I ate only plain Shredded Wheat. A few weeks ago, after reading about agglutinin, I switched to oatmeal.

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2 responses to “Healthy Candy Bars and Paleo-Bashing”

  1. cmaukonen says :

    I have not eaten any of those items in years. The closest I come is 70% cocao bar and 60% cocao chips for my home made chocolate chip cookies.

    The only pasta I eat is noodles on chicken noode soup whith added chicken and celeray and other vegies.

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  2. trkingmomoe says :

    There is an awakening in this country that process foods are not as good for you as they are advertised to be. I mostly cook from scratch because I like to control what goes in it. Being able to afford organics is a different story.

    I pick up my first CSA box this week end. I am excited about it because it is organic. They posted what was going to be this weeks offerings. They reminded me to bring something to cut herbs and flowers with. They have delivery points during the week but I signed up to go to the farm because of the u-pick flowers and herbs. The farm is about the same distance as the pick up points.

    My little garden is growing nicely and I have been eating tomatoes and greens from it. I did have to spray for fungus using copper spray that is organic. I also had to spray my egg plant for worms. Sorry moths but I only have 2 egg plants and can not share with you.

    I can’t find any thing wrong with the paleo diet. Our early ancestors had short life spans and wasn’t all that healthy.To blame it on cultivation of food is dumb. Now modern process food is a different story which needs to be blamed.

    I got into a conversation with some one the other day about cooking and that person was convinced that people were cooking less because they no longer knew how. I stood my ground and told him that organic and whole foods was a fast growing market. People wanted to eat better and that involved food preparation. I made the point it was lack of money that drove the cheap process food industry.

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