The Chocolatey Truth – What is Really in Chocolate Biscuits?

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Let’s talk chocolate biscuits!

Look into almost any supermarket and you will find almost half an entire isle dedicated to biscuits. Whether we like it or not this is clearly a product that is in high demand. Unfortunately, the majority of these biscuits are extremely energy dense, contain very little nutrients and have a lot of added ingredients which can increase the toxic load on our GI tract.

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I will always heavily endorse eating whole foods which have come from Mother Nature (i.e. the ground). However there is a time and place for quality treats and sometimes when you have been up half the night trying to get little ones back asleep, carrot sticks at 10am just may not cut the mustard. I believe it is important to have other viable choices in, which includes options that are pre-packaged. If you do not have time to have a shower you certainly will not have time to get baking.

However, healthier alternatives to these popular biscuits are presently few and far between. I have previously done a full review on Nairn’s Oatcakes and Oat biscuits – these are something we have in the house as a healthier chocolate chip cookie option. No, they are not carrot sticks so they are not going to be a replacement for this, but they do contain 40% less sugar than your standard biscuit.

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I thought it would be worthwhile to do a proper comparison to see just how much these oat biscuits stack up to other counterparts. So I went to our local supermarket and choose four chocolate biscuits which are smack in the middle of the biscuit isle. Supermarkets purposely place their most popular products at eye level. These were Griffins Squiggles, Toffee Pops, Milk Chocolate Wheaten biscuits and Arnott’s Farmbake Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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The first step of label reading is to always look at the ingredients list. This will tell you straight up what is actually in a product. This is your best guide to how much nutrients the food is going to provide you. When you just look at the macro-nutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein) it can be confusing as just looking at the carbohydrate for example does not tell you about the type of carbohydrate is – the ingredients list will tell you that. It is also important to look at both the ingredients per 100g and what equals a serving size, as this can differ across products; for example a serving of toffee pops is one (who really eats 1 biscuit?).

You may be slightly surprised to know that two of these biscuit varieties have sugar listed first – yes that means this is the primary ingredient of the entire biscuit is straight sugar. These were:

Griffins Squiggles with a whopping 47.7g of sugar per 100g and a total of 17g sugar in 2 cookies alone (that’s 4 teaspoons of sugar).

Griffins Toffee Pops contain 42.1g of sugar per 100g and a total of 14g of sugar in cookies (3 teaspoons of sugar).

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Now it is public knowledge on their website that Griffins turns over $300 million dollars a year. That is $300 million dollars a year effectively in marketing sugar with fake coloured squiggle lines.

By the way could you imagine that sort of money spend on creating community gardens?

I digress.

The first ingredients listed in the other biscuit varieties were wheat 36% (Milk Chocolate Wheaten Biscuits) and Wheat Flour {no percentage} (Farmbake Chocolate Chip Cookies) with 36g sugar/ 100 respectively for both (that is over a third of each biscuit). In addition all of these biscuits contained a myriad of added ingredients including emulsifiers and natural colors (though how something with a number can be ‘natural’ is beyond me).

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By comparison Nairn’s Oat Biscuits (chocolate chip) contain 59% wholegrain oats – that’s the majority of the biscuit made from our humble oats. You can read about the nutritional benefits of oats in another blog here. The sugar content is 19 grams/100 so for two of these biscuit you are having 4.75g (that is one teaspoon effectively.)

I will reiterate that I am not saying to go crazy with the Nairn’s Oat Biscuits and by the way, nor does the company say this either, rather they have done a really good job at creating a biscuit alternative with significantly less (40% less) sugar in it, no artificial colours and packed in some good nutrients from the oats. Now all you need is a nice cup of coffee and for those days when carrot sticks just cannot sooth your sanity from a baby that won’t sleep or a toddler tantrum because you gave him the wrong coloured cup – at least you know you have a healthy option to choose which also saves you from needing to make your own. If you want to get a little more creative feel free to check out my no bake slice Healthier Hedgehog Slice from these oat biscuits with only 7grams of sugar per serving!

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You can buy Nairn’s Oatcakes and Oat Biscuits from all local supermarkets and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more creative and healthy ideas.

Sugar & Sleep Workshops

In my upcoming ‘Sugar and Sleep Workshops’ I will be shining the spotlight on sugar including different types of sugar, answer the question to just how bad is sugar and give healthy, simple alternatives (just like these slices!). Plus I will be explaining the science behind how sleep loss affects your hormones, your appetite and your ability to process sugar – this has been my most popular workshop to date and will be holding just two more this year, one in Auckland (Howick) and one in Wellington! All details and tickets from event finder (spaces limited to 15 only so don’t miss out!)

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xx Dr Julie Bhosale