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Friday, March 30, 2007

Is a protein cookie healthier than a regular chocolate chippie cookie?

"The Protein Bakery makes protein cookies which are high-fibre, high-calcium, have no added sugar, and have 15g protein.

But don't be tempted to believe this protein cookie "with a healthy attitude" is any better for your waistline than a regular cookie. It contains 1140kJ of energy per cookie. That's the same as eating six Griffin's Chocolate Chippie cookies.

Protein bars and shakes claim to make you "perform better", "replenish muscle", or "speed recovery"."
(For the full article that appeared in Consumer Magasine, click on the title).
Gary Moller comments:
The Protein Bakery is here in Wellington. When the manager/owner, Justine Schwartz, asked me for advice about Consumer's unflattering comparison of her cookies with a chocolate chippie, I was happy to oblige in return for a few samples to chomp for lunch on the run!

I will state immediately that I am not much of a cookie fan. My partner, Alofa, is a keen cookie baker but, as she well knows, I seldom eat them. Still, I ate a couple of the Protein Bakeries for lunch. I can tell you this:

I was able to go right through from lunchtime, and do a long run before dinner without hunger pangs. The cookies did not leave a sticky residue on my teeth (Having two dental professionals in the family causes heightened awareness of these things!!)

So, what does this mean?

  1. Not all calories are alike: A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (Like one with lots of chocolate chippie biscuits) can cause wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This is seen as bouts of sugar craving. This throws a huge strain on the pancreas which produces insulin. With time, the pancreas tires and the resulting ailment is Type II Diabetes. A diet that is relatively low in refined carbohydrates and which contains protein maintains a more stable blood sugar and spares the pancreas.
  2. While a protein cookie might contain plenty of calories, the more stable blood sugar levels mean that one can go for longer between meals before hunger pangs bite. This is why the Atkins Diet works.
  3. Diabetics can use the low refined carbohydrate, high protein diet, along with exercise, to maintain stable blood sugar levels and therefore less medication overall through the day.
  4. People on weight loss programmes can use the same dietary strategies to obtain a gradual loss of fat and to keep it off.
  5. The extra protein, when combined with exercise, will help maintain lean muscle mass during the weight loss.
  6. The elderly may need no more than 1,000 calories per day due to low physical activity and poor basal metabolism. These needs can be supplied by several chocolate chippie biscuits and a cup of sugary tea. Depending on the group examined, rates of malnutrition in elderly populations can be as high as 90% with protein deficiency being high on the list.If an elderly person is going to eat a biscuit, it surely makes sense to feed them one that is packed with protein and calcium and low in refined carbohydrates that stresses their insulin.
  7. Being high in protein, low in fat and high in calcium, the protein cookie does not leave a sticky residue between the teeth for bacteria to feed on. The calcium in the cookie may assist with remineralisation of the enamel surfaces of the teeth, through direct contact and later when excreted by the saliva.
  8. Trans fatty acids are found in most commercially baked goods and the chocolate chippies biscuit is no excpetion. Trans fatty acids cause cancer and heart disease. The less in the diet the better. The Protein Factory Coookie has no trans fatty acids.
While I am not a cookie fan and while our family is still into the cut lunch, there is little doubt that the rest of the world has shifted to pre-prepared foods, including commercially made cookies. If I had to make a choice about which to choose I would go for the Protein Bakery Cookie in preference to the unhealthy chocolate chippie one.

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