Phood focus: Pop Crunch

popcornHere’s the pitch for Orville Redenbacher’s new Pop Crunch™ ready-to-eat popcorn snacks: “Half the fat of chips!”  Healthy, right?  Let’s check the facts:

According to the USDA food database, an ounce of your average plain potato chips has:

  • 154 calories
  • 10 grams of fat
  • 14 grams of carbohydrate of which 0 is sugar

According to the Orville Redenbacher website, a 1 ounce serving of Brown Sugar Pop Crunch has:

  • 140 calories
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 22 grams of carbohydrate, of which 10 grams are sugar

Well, at least the “1/2 the fat of chips” claim is true.  What else is true?  The potato chips have slightly less sodium, 10 X as much potassium and slightly more protein.  While you probably don’t think of snack foods as a protein source, you might be surprised that potato chips are actually a high potassium food.

Here’s another potential problem with Pop Crunch: the bag is 6 ounces, or 6 servings.  About 3 cups of volume.  Not hard to chow down on the whole bag in one sitting.  In the TV ad, the characters are shown eating Pop Crunch straight from the bag, not from a little 1/2 cup portion-sized bowl.  Message: eat straight from the bag.  If you eat the whole bag, that’s 840 calories and 60 grams of added sugar.  Compare that to three cups of plain air popped popcorn at a mere 90 calories.

The main message is this: bragging that a snack food has “half the fat” of some other snack food doesn’t make it lower in calories, and when it comes to weight control, it’s all about calories.  If you want to chow down on snack food, stick to plain popcorn.  Or fresh fruit.  Processed snack foods have calories, whether from fat or sugar or both.

photo: Micky** via Flickr

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