Friday, August 20, 2010

A matter of perception

I was looking over granola bars at the store the other day when I found myself gravitating toward the cookies. Usually bars are found in the breakfast aisle and cookies in the bakery or snack aisle. But at Aldi‘s, granola bars co-exist with cookies, and with good reason: According to their labels, the primary difference between the bars on my list and the oatmeal-raisin cookies I was coveting was their shape.

The Benton’s Homestyle Oatmeal Raisin cookies I bought were 120 calories each, with four grams of fat and two grams of fiber. That comes out to two Weight Watchers points -- the same as a typical Fiber One bar and less than many other granola bars, which often have more fat and calories and less fiber.

Here’s an even weirder comparison: One serving of Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey crunchy granola bars has 190 calories, six grams of fat and two grams of fiber. That’s four Weight Watchers points -- the same as one of those frosted bakery-style Lofthouse sugar cookies, which have 190 calories, seven grams of fat and less than one gram of fiber.

That doesn’t mean all cookies can compete nutritionally with granola bars, or that all breakfast bars are little more than rectangles of cookie dough. But when you consider that granola bars usually cost more than cookies, it’s worth checking the label.

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