Is it healthier or just more expensive?

I was at a friend’s home the other day and she was asking me for some advice on how to get her husband to eat better. So we got talking about my first recommendation (which is almost always my first recommendation) to cut out the refined carbohydrates and switch to whole grains. Proudly she proceeds to the cupboard and shows me a box of spaghetti that has a high fiber content and is supposed to be whole grain, but tastes like regular spaghetti. She asked me if I had tried this brand (and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the brand). So I looked at the box to formulate an opinion. The box of spaghetti costs over $4.00 (yes, one normal size box of spaghetti). I believe it was around $4.17, if memory serves me right.

So I look at the list of ingredients to see what magical items could possibly have made this box of spaghetti so expensive. The ingredients included semolina flour (which is the same kind of flour used to make plain spaghetti) and a few types of gums such as xanthum gum. That’s it. No fairy dust of any kind.

Xanthum gum, pectin and other types of gums are forms of insoluble fiber that are found in many types of foods and are added for a variety of reasons such as obtaining desired consistency, or in the case of this spaghetti, to increase fiber content. However, this fiber is technically not a naturally occurring fiber; it is certainly not the same as the fiber found in whole grains.

So for $4.00 a box you can get plain spaghetti with some fiber added to it. You would be much better off sticking to plain spaghetti at $0.99 a box and getting that extra few grams of fiber from an apple, a salad or a slice of 100% whole wheat bread.

Quite frankly, most foods on the market that advertise themselves as being far superior to their unhealthy competitors are really not much better, if any better, than their competition. Cascadian Farms®, a product line that sells organic cereals and frozen foods, is owned by General Mills®. Same products (though Cascadian Farms® usually includes organic products), but you will pay much more for Cascadian Farms® than General Mills®. Look for my future blog article “To Go Organic or Not”. For now, read the label and see what you are paying for in a product before you buy it. If you have questions, email me. I am glad to answer your questions.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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