It appears to be healthy, but is it? Part 1: Wheat Thins

May 29, 2012

This is a series dedicated to giving the middle finger to the food industry – more specifically to the food marketing industry. Because I used to work in advertising, selling “food” products that I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. And neither should you. Here’s why.

Today we are taking a stroll down the snack aisle:

Reduced Fat Wheat Thins

Taking a look at the package we see that the folks at Nabisco are obviously looking out for our health. Aren’t they? They’ve named this snack Wheat Thins after all, not Candy Fats! Wheat sounds healthy. So does “thin”. Their marketing strategy is hitting the nail on the head with women like us already! Next, we see that this is the Reduced Fat version AND that they are using 100% whole grains. Again, they appeal to us by using the buzzwords that attract women who care about health.

It appears to be healthy. But is it?

For the record, I define “healthy” food as food that is real, whole, nutrient dense and comes from the earth.

First ingredient: Whole grain wheat flour
Ok – this is good. They’ve held to their promise of a 100% whole grain food. Now, is wheat healthy? Depends who you are. Some folks have real problems digesting wheat, for some it causes eczema or congestion or worse…yet some of us have no obvious problems from wheat at all. Here’s the thing – no one has ever died from a wheat deficiency. You don’t need it!
Ingredient score: 2

Next ingredient: Sugar
Oh. Really, sugar is the 2nd ingredient in such a healthy looking snack? Well it explains why we might eat a whole box of Wheat Thins, that’s for sure. Nabisco has us coming back for more with the addictive quality of sugar. And THAT, my friends, is a good business move for them.
Ingredient score: -100

Soybean oil
I’m not a fan of soybean oil for a couple of reasons but this is the main one: genetically modified soybeans. Soy is a plant that has had its DNA tortured every which way by the food giants. A non-food if you ask me. But soybean oil is a helluva lot cheaper than sesame, coconut or olive oil, so again this is a good business move for Nabisco. Not for your body.

I’m assuming it’s soybean oil that has been “reduced” for this reduced fat product. Haven’t we learned by now? A lower-fat product usually means it’s higher in sugar. And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with fats – if they’re the right kind.
Ingredient score: -75

Cornstarch
Also surely from genetically modified corn, as almost all corn products are.
Ingredient score: -75

Malt syrup and invert sugar
Or rather, more sugar. That’s all those are.
Ingredient score: -100

BHT
If it’s in the packaging, it’s going in your mouth. What is it? From Whfoods.com:

“BHT and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are being investigated for their ability to damage genetic material. In addition, research has shown that these compounds can rupture and damage red blood cells as well as stimulate symptoms of chemical sensitivity.”

Ingredient score: -125

Total score: -473
Yes, these scores are a little arbitrary, but you get my point. There’s really nothing positive or healthy about Wheat Thins, despite what the packaging and marketing might have you believe.

It appears to be healthy but it definitely…is not.

Better alternatives?
Whole grain crackers with zero sugar
Homemade crackers (I’m working on a recipe…)
Whole grain toast with organic butter
Unsweetened banana chips
Kale chips!

Do you have a favorite cracker made with real, whole food? Let us know in the comments.