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The Dish

The Dish

With SFU's Registered Dietitian

Archive for the 'Snack Smart' Category

Are seaweed snacks healthy?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a little while, finally I have a question about the healthiness of a snack my wife and I are addicted to. They are seaweed snacks called Tao Kae Noi.  We used to eat chips all the time, but we switched to mostly eating these as well as popcorn for snacks. However, these are really addictive and sometimes we eat two 40g. bags each in a day, though usually no more than 4 per week each. I know the seaweed itself is relatively healthy, but I’m wondering about the other ingredients. Here they are for the wasabi flav.: Seaweed 85%, Palm Oil 9%, wasabi powder 2.8%, sugar 1.6%, salt 1.2%, Flavour Enhancer (E635) 0.4%. So, do you think it’s OK to eat them regularly, or what?

Well, judging by the amounts you are eating and the percentages of the ingredients I am not overly concerned. Palm oil is a saturated fat however, and we do want to limit our intake of saturated fat. When you eat 80g of these seaweed snacks you get about 3% of your daily value for saturated fat. You want to keep your saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of your daily energy intake. The other potential concern could be sodium, but based on my calculations it appears that per package the snacks are providing about 320mg of sodium. This is reasonable since I usually recommend no more than 2300mg of sodium per day (that is the amount of sodium in about 1 teaspoon of salt). Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K and a very good source of folate and magnesium. You may have read this before on the blog, but my motto really is “everything in moderation”. So continue to enjoy your seaweed snacks, a few small bags a week sounds like moderation to me! And it is definitely a superior choice when compared to potato chips.

How come you mention Lara Bars and not Nature’s Path Organic bars?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Excellent question, I have a long answer though….

In 2007 the Ministry of Health was involved in the development of Nutritional Guidelines for Vending Machines in B.C. Public Buildings. Food and beverages sold in vending machines in provincially-funded public buildings must meet these guidelines. SFU counts as a public building.

To support implementation of these guidelines, Dietitian Services of HealthLinkBC created the “Brand Name Food List”. Based on the nutritional guidelines and the content of the food item, foods are ranked into 4 categories:

  • Choose Most
  • Choose Sometimes
  • Choose Least
  • Not Recommended

Larabars (Fruit and Nut Energy Bar and Jocolat) are “Choose Most” items while Nature’s Path (Organic Chewy Granola Bars, Organic Optimum Energy Bars) are ranked as “Choose Sometimes or Choose Least” depending on the flavour. The nutritional guidelines are very specific in terms of serving size, amount of fat etc. You can look up how your favorite snack food is ranked by visiting www.brandnamefoodlist.ca.

At Burnaby campus, because we have an existing contract for vending we have dedicated some vending machines to healthier choices but not all. You will see the healthier choices (Choose Most or Choose Sometimes items) marked by an apple sticker. At Surrey campus, all of the vending items meet the nutritional guidelines: 50% of the items are Choose Most and 50% are Choose Sometimes.