SATURDAY SHOPPING: CHECK OUT POP TARTS
THE EDITORS OF RUNNER’S WORLD provide a slideshow article, “25 Healthy Snacks for Runners”, published by ACTIVE.com that might save you some time constructing a grocery list. Included is a brief description of each recommendation and calorie information.
Yes, it is likely you’ve seen other lists that promote eating the ‘usual suspects’ like fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat and high-protein dairy foods, and omega-3 fatty acid rich canned fish. But this one includes a few convenience items, like pop tarts, fig cookies, and granola and energy bars.
Are pop tarts healthy? Not really. Kellogg is possibly the most familiar of all brands of this food item. They contain high-fructose corn syrup and additives that have raised alarms. They seem to be comparable to some lower calorie granola bars that are not identified as high in protein. The 50- to 52-gram fruit-filled tarts contain 200-210 calories, 2gm protein, and roughly 36-37 grams total carbohydrate (13-17 grams sugar) and 2.5 -6 grams total fat.
I checked unfrosted blueberry, frosted blue raspberry, unfrosted strawberry and frosted strawberry flavors. There might be slightly different figures for other non-fruit flavors, but it seemed reasonable to examine those which had a non-sugar filling.
Clearly the yummy toast-able commercial treats are not high in protein or fiber. The fruit filling is not equal to a serving of the fresh version. However, if you enjoy them it’s worth comparing their ingredients, nutrient by nutrient and additive by additive, with those of the snack foods you don’t like as much but think are healthier choices.
If you rely on granola or protein bars for on–the–go breakfast, snacks and lunch, you might find that pop tarts occasionally can provide a convenient, relatively lower calorie alternative. Paired with milk almost any vitamin-enriched, grain-flour based starch is improved. The carbohydrate content can serve to replace muscle glycogen after an intense morning workout.
This post is NOT promoting store-bought pop tarts as a health food for runners. Just saying, that if you read the nutrition labels on some health bars they can be higher in calories, provide similar nutrient content, and not be as satisfying as this mid-century creation, eaten as a rare splurge.
The BEST healthy alternative if calorie and fat content is not an issue? Try a home-made pop-tart. Most recipes don’t post nutritional information. Those that do seem to contain calories well north of the 210 mark of the Kellogg brand, and are more akin to breakfast pastries made with pie crust and jam fillings. They can be frozen for long periods.
For athletic nutrition purists, it might be heresy to recommend Pop Tarts. For others, it’s just something to think about while grocery shopping on Saturday.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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