Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Crunchy Shitake Mushroom Snacks - Healthy or not?

Shitake mushroom snackI thought I was savvy when it comes to nutrition labels but was caught out when I bought these - Crunchy Shitake Mushrooms by Other Foods UK.

All the positive marketing labels convinced me to make an impulse buy - vegan, gluten free, nut & dairy free, 1 of your 5 a day, 100% natural ingredients, GMO free. They had everything going for them, plus mushrooms are so good for you and low calorie. And the front of the pack clearly states in BIG numbers - 99 kcals. What a find! I love my snacks to have 100 calories or under.

I should know better. I didn't read the small print.

I'd never seen a mushroom snack before and thought these might make a change from my usual crackers and chickpea snacks. I found them in Holland & Barrett who are always bringing in new ranges of snacks.
Shitake mushroom snack

I couldn't wait to try them. Opening the pack reveals lots of small, but completely whole mushrooms. Biting into them, they are quite hard at first but soften once you get chewing. 

To be honest, if I'd had a blindfold on I wouldn't have known they were mushrooms. The added ingredients (not many), have somehow altered the mushroom taste. They are slightly salty with an almost sweet taste, slightly oily and pleasantly crunchy. In fact, they were so tasty I knew there had to be a lot more to these mushrooms and just mushrooms!

Shitake mushroom snack

First off, the '99' calories on the front of the pack is misleading. The tiny writing underneath states - the pack contains 2 servings, so the whole bag has 198 calories. Not such a low calorie snack after all. 

So where are all the calories coming from? 

Mushrooms alone are exceedingly low in calories with around 44 calories per 100g. These crunchy shitake mushrooms have just under 500 calories!

Shitake mushroom snack

This is where you have to read the small print a.k.a. the ingredients and nutrition label.

The ingredients include palm oil which it states is sustainably sourced. Some might disagree with this, saying it isn't possible to sustainably soure palm oil. Also in there is vegan maltose (which is sweet) and some Himalayan salt. There is vitamin B6, D and iron. Fat is high and saturated fat is very high at 12.8g per 100g. Sugars have a mediuml level with 19g per 100g. 

Although I wasn't happy with the high fat and relatively high sugar content, I did like the taste of these snacks. I do feel misled though that they are really not the healthy snack they might at first appear to be.

This is clever marketing playing on the latest foodie trends of gluten free, vegan, free from etc so just be aware that looking at the ingredients and nutrition label can tell you a lot more about the food you're about to buy than the marketing on the front of the pack.

Shitake mushrooms, sustainably sourced palm oil, vegan maltose, Himalayan salt.

Nutrition pack  (40g):
198 Calories, 8.8g fat, 5.2g saturated fat, 27.2g carbs, 7.6g sugars, 5.4g fibre, 2.2g protein, 0.24g salt. Vitamin B6 50%, VItamin D 38%, Iron 17%.

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