3/23/2009

Antioxidant Showdown: Hershey’s Vs. An Apple

By Laura Moncur @ 9:07 am — Filed under:

Hershey's Extra Dark ChocolateI am just about sick of chocolate bar companies bragging about the antioxidant power of chocolate. I got a promotional email from Hershey’s and The Best Life. Bob Greene has teamed up with Hershey’s to promote their Extra Dark Chocolate bars as approved foods.

They are promoting the chocolate as some great food for health:

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Hershey®’s Extra Dark Chocolate has become the first chocolate bar to earn the respected Best Life Treat Seal of Approval. Designed by renowned health and fitness expert Bob Greene, the Best Life Treat Seal is awarded to products that have a nutrition edge over products in their class and are available in portion sizes of 150 calories or fewer. The Treat Seal appears on select grocery products and is intended to help consumers make healthier food and lifestyle decisions.

The criterion for the Best Life Treat Seal is that it should be available in portion sizes of 150 calories or fewer. Let’s look at the nutrition facts for the candy bar, shall we?

Hershey's Extra Dark Nutrition Facts

For three squares of the candy bar (most bars have several servings), it’s 210 calories, so the Hershey bar fails the bare minimum requirement for The Best Life.

But what about those magical antioxidant properties of chocolate?

The most important antioxidants are beta carotene (provitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and proanthocyanidin (or procyanidin). Of these, chocolate has only procyanidin, or Vitamin P as it is starting to be called. If you look at the nutrition facts, Hershey’s has no Vitamin A or C. The other three antioxidants aren’t listed on the nutrition facts label.

Chocolate is known to have procyanidin, but it is by no means the highest in that antioxidant. That award goes to black chokecherries, but they are a little difficult to find at your local grocery store. A granny smith apple, however, is VERY easy to find. How does it compete against Hershey’s?

Granny Smith Apple Nutrition FactsA medium apple is only 80 calories, has 2% of the Vitamin A and 20% of the vitamin C you need for the day. It also doesn’t show how much procyanidin it has, but considering that there is zero fat and five grams of fiber, the apple beats Hershey’s hands down.

To me, The Best Life Food Partners just seems like a marketing ploy to sell you processed food. Here is the fine print from their website:

Best Life Partners benefit from use of the “Best Life approved” seal, as well as integrated book content and web site mentions, banner advertising, tour sponsorships and some of the most coveted national and local broadcast media coverage around. We are always looking for great food, fitness, apparel and wellness companies to partner with.

It all makes me a little angry, actually. Now I feel like I can’t trust Bob Greene…

For more information about antioxidants and procyanidin:

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4 Responses to “Antioxidant Showdown: Hershey’s Vs. An Apple”

  1. Raven Says:

    Informative!

  2. Rachel Says:

    Wow. Thanks for the eye-opener… I had been fighting a slight suspicion about the whole “Best Life” seal of approval, but really, it makes sense. Packaged food is, unfortunately, still more appealing to many people, and much easier to make an enormous profit on. I’m gonna feel so righteous eating my Pink Lady organic apple tomorrow ;-)

  3. Reedski Says:

    I agree, food manufacturers are full of ploys to make us think processed foods full of sugar, fat, and sodium are good for us when there are much better choices that can be made. However, there are times when I just need a piece of chocolate. I still love milk chocolate but I don’t eat it. I made it a rule. (Read the book The End of Overeating to learn more about making rules to help you steer away from highly processed foods full of fat, sugar, and sodium that food manufacturers put out there for us to crave so they can make lots of money.)

    I don’t have a TV so I don’t watch Dr. Oz but I have read in a magazine that he suggests eating no more than 1 oz. of dark chocolate in a setting, the higher the cacao %, the better, and never two days in a row. I don’t love the taste of dark chocolate so I tend not to want to keep eating until I’m sick like I do with milk chocolate. One square is enough.

    As far as antioxidants go I try to get mine through fruits like blueberries and I believe a small amount of cinnamon is chock full of antioxidants. Apples are a great choice for a snack or with a meal. Apples are very low on the glycemic index and can help cut cravings as well. In the book “The Three Apple a Day Diet” you can learn all about how beneficial apples are for our nutrition. I just can’t bring myself to eat three apples a day but I do try to eat one a day and I know they have helped me immensely in more ways than one.

  4. Paul Says:

    You can’t compare a candy bar to a plain apple. You would have to compare raw cocoa to an apple, or a candy bar to Apple pie or something.

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