Healthy Cookie Options
How does your favorite cookie stack up nutritionally?
While it’s easy enough to find out the calories in an Oreo, Fig Newton or Chips Ahoy (just read the nutrition label), what about those unmarked cookies found at your workplace, deli, or at the Double Tree hotel? I went undercover to reveal the secret to calorie counts in cookies for my upcoming book, Dining Lean.
Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. While there are certainly as many recipes for as there are cooks, these cookies have pretty much the same ingredients—flour, sugar, eggs, butter and, of course, the chocolate chips. Leave out half the butter, and the cookie isn’t tender any more. Add some milk, and you’ve made a cake batter. What this means is that one recipe for chocolate chip cookies is more similar to another recipe for chocolate chip cookies than they are different. What sets the cookies apart nutritionally, then, is size.
How big is your favorite cookie? The size of chocolate chip cookies ranges from the tiny bite-size morsels to colossal treats that are practically a meal. And while a cookie may tout it’s trans fat-free, it’s probably still high in saturated fat, which is the bad fat that raises cholesterol levels. That’s because most chocolate chip cookies are made from butter, which is high in saturated fat, and chocolate chips. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 7 percent of total calories come from saturated fat to prevent heart disease (the Number One killer in the United States). That translates into about 17 grams saturated fat per day for the average woman and 20 grams for the average man.
So, the moral of the story is select a small chocolate chip cookie—thin and no bigger than the width of a hockey puck. Or, if it’s chocolate you’re after, get your chocolate “fix” from a small piece of dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants, such as 80- to 150-calorie individually wrapped Cocoa Via products, or Hershey’s new Antioxidant Dark. Chocolate is high in “flavanols,” which act as antioxidants and can have beneficial effects on the body by helping to neutralize free radicals and protect your body against their destructive effects.
Dr Jo is a PhD nutritionist and registered dietitian. Like you, she’s busy and is constantly on the search for healthy menu options (in restaurants) and grab ‘n go products (in the supermarket and convenience stores). She’s the author of three books: Dining Lean, Dr Jo’s No Big Deal Diet, and How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road. Dr Jo has appeared on 300+ TV and radio shows, presented more than 1000 programs at conferences, and has written articles or has been quoted in 200+ newspapers, magazines and websites.