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Let Them Eat Snack Cakes.

Ring Dings, Ding Dongs, Devil Dogs, Ho Ho's, Yodels, Twinkies. Is there a single American over the age of ten who doesn't know that just about every snack cake made by Hostess, Drake's, Little Debbie, Tastykake, and Dolly Madison is junk food, pure and simple? Unlikely.

But it may surprise some to learn that: 1) many packaged snack cakes, pies, and doughnuts are as bad for your heart as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder, 2) many packaged muffins are only marginally better than cupcakes, and 3) even if your Little Debbies, Tastykakes, etc., are "light" or "low fat," they're still a far cry from healthy.

Inside the Cellophane

A slice of Pizza Hut Big New Yorker Pepperoni Pizza topped with two pats of butter. To your heart, that's what two Hostess Ding Dongs look like. And their 19 grams of fat--12 of them saturated---don't even include the trans fat that comes from the hydrogenated oils that most companies use.

Just what you need: 360 calories and half a day's artery-clogging fat wrapped in cellophane.

You could be even worse off if you're a Tastykake Kandy Kake fan. A two-cake package weighs just an ounce (two Ding Dongs weigh three ounces). Eat two or three packages and you could be a koronary kare kandidate.

Single-serve pies are also disasters. Those made by Dolly Madison and Hostess deliver about 500 calories and 20 to 25 grams of fat (about half of them saturated) to body parts that don't need them.

Companies use saturated or trans fats to keep their chocolate coatings and "kreme" fillings from running and to make their pie crusts flaky. Some, like Drake's, Dolly Madison, Tastykake, and Little Debbie, use partially hydrogenated oils. Mrs. Fields uses butter. It doesn't make much difference to your heart.

Mistaken Muffins

Unlike Swiss rolls, Suzy Q's, and Sno Balls, muffins sound healthy. And, depending on the baker, they may have some advantages. For example, Otis Spunkmeyer, Weight Watchers, Hostess, and Dolly Madison use mostly unhydrogenated oils in their muffins.

Muffins have two other things going for them: no icing or filling usually means less saturated or trans fat and slightly less sugar. And sometimes you get some fruit or bran (the companies won't say how much).

But when you run the numbers, many muffins turn out to be not much different than most unfrosted cakes. The six-ouncers made by Dolly Madison and Hostess have roughly 600 calories and half a day's fat. Otis Spunkmeyer's four-ounce Low Fat Muffins have almost 400 calories each, though the package slyly claims that a serving is half a muffin. They may fool you ... but they won't fool your bathroom scale.

The Best Bite

Looking for snack cakes that are good enough to be Best Bites is like looking for fruit at McDonald's. Cap the fat and you end up with low-fat cakes. Cap the sugars and you end up with small low-fat cakes.

Low-fat sweets don't clog your arteries like fatty snack cakes do. But you're still talking junk--a combination of white flour and sugars with hardly any nutrients. And you compound the damage if that snack cake takes the place of a peach, a cup of berries, a slice of cantaloupe, or some other truly healthy snack.

That's why our Best Bites had to have something good--not just the absence of something bad. Eight met our fat and sugar limits. But we also insisted that they supply at least three grams of fiber from fruit or grains.

The one-and-only winner: Health Valley Fat Free Healthy Scones. Each flavor--blueberry, cranberry orange, and cinnamon raisin--has five grams of fiber from ingredients like whole-wheat flour, dates, and raisins. They taste more like cookies than traditional scones, but as sweet snacks go, they're a cut above the rest.

The information for this article was compiled by Jackie Adriano.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:snack foods and weight loss
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 1, 2000
Next Article:THE JUNK YARD.

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