We were recently contacted by Nature’s Path, maker of organic cereals, granolas, and other goodies. The Love Crunch Granola line has undergone a makeover and we were sent a sample for review. From the company:
Like all Nature’s Path products, Love Crunch Granolas are USDA certified organic, which means they do not contain artificial preservatives, additives or synthetic pesticides. Love Crunch Granolas also bear the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal, which helps shoppers recognize products that meet rigorous genetically modified organism (GMO) avoidance practices.
We tasted the Dark Chocolate and Red Berries flavor. It was scrumptious. Here’s the list of benefits, according to Nature’s Path
Dark Chocolate & Red Berries (the original flavor) – is the perfect marriage of flax granola, strawberries, raspberries, coconut and dark chocolate chunks that has 14 grams of Whole Grains per serving, no cholesterol, low sodium, no trans fat and is an excellent source of ALA Omega-3.
This is certainly an appealing product line from a taste and philanthropy perspective (each purchase helps the Bite4Bite food bank program).
Could it also be the perfect marriage of nutrition and flavor?
What you need to know:
The ingredient list looks good:
Rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*, spelt*, dark chocolate chunks* (evaporated cane juice*, chocolate liquor*, cocoa butter*, soy lecithin*, vanilla*), flax seeds*, dried coconut*, cocoa*, freeze-dried berry blend* (freeze-dried strawberries*, freeze-dried raspberries*), rice starch*, sea salt, natural chocolate flavor, sea salt, natural vanilla flavor, tocopherols (natural vitamin E). *Organic. Contains soy. Produced in a facilty that uses dairy, peanuts and tree nuts.
It’s a more decadent granola, and would make a sweet snack or yogurt topping. But as a cereal you might want to watch the serving size. The company is positioning it as a “premium” granola and using the FDA serving size established for snacks (30 g – a little over ¼ cup), rather than for a cereal.
If it were considered a cereal, the serving size is supposed to be 55 g (required for heavy/dense cereals, like granola), which would be a more reasonable, but still small, ½ cup for this product. Take a look at the pictures of a single 30 gram serving. Does that look like the amount you would consume for breakfast?
A 30 gram serving carries only 140 calories. But if you use the 55 grams FDA guideline – the number would be 270 calories. Although you may think this is high, all granolas are over 200 calories, especially if they contain nuts and seeds that are high in fat (healthy fat). Chances are they will keep you fuller for a longer time compared to puffed cereals.
Although none of the 4 flavors are particularly high in calories or fat, neither are they a good source of fiber… all because of the 30 g (1 oz) serving size. Eat more and you get more of everything, of course. The sugar count for the small serving is 1.5 tsp, but consuming the 55 gram serving size bumps it up to 3 teaspoons.
Now on to other labeling considerations.
Omega-3 Claim: Despite the claims on two of the four granola flavors “Excellent Source of ALA OMEGA-3″, there is no “recommended daily value” for ALA omega-3 fatty acids and no allowed claim regarding ALA omega-3 content (“excellent source”). ALA omega-3 (from plants/nuts rather than fish) is very poorly converted to DHA and EPA (the most valuable forms of omega-3) in the body.
Allergens: FDA requires foods containing grains related to wheat, such as spelt (which contains gluten), to declare the presence of wheat, which this product neglects to do. For example, the Dark Chocolate and Red Berries flavor only declares that it “Contains soy.” All allergens must be listed when the “contains” statement is used.
The “may contain” or “processed in a facility that also processes…” statements are voluntary, unregulated and not the same as declaring actual ingredients that are one of the 8 major food allergens. All these granolas should state that they contain wheat.
Bottom line: This is a tasty treat, it is organic, and has a good ingredient list. When consumed in a standard FDA portion size (55g/2 ounces) the calories and sugar are above what we’d like to see.
What to do at the supermarket:
When considering a granola, make sure to check the serving size before reading the calorie and nutrient info. It should be 55g, not 30g. If it’s not, do the math and try to visualize your portion size at home to estimate your actual intake.