Nutrition: Ancient Grains vs Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola

I talk a pretty good game when it comes to food, but I’m human. (Well, panther, but who’s counting right?) There are times when I get suckered in based on a good review, or a product name or something along those lines without every really doing the research. That happened yesterday and I thought I would share my experience.

One of my staple foods is granola, and my favorite kind is Nature’s Path Flax Plus. Lots of fiber, solid amounts of protein and nutrients and tasty as well. I will often scarf a bowl down with some almond or coconut milk and a banana for breakfast. Sometimes I toss it into a protein shake. Sometimes it goes into my yogurt. You get my drift.

A while back a friend of mine mentioned that she got something from Costco called “Ancient Grains” which was made with Amaranth, Quinoa and other “old world” grain products and was amazing. In general, “newer” grains (ones we eat these days) tend to be less nutritionally dense and wholesome than the old world stuff, and I was excited to potentially have a source of the good stuff, and from Costco no less!

Now I’m not saying Ancient Grains is bad. It is fairly tasty actually (though in texture it is not as pleasant as the standard Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax). However, if you’re purchasing it with the hope that it will somehow contain an amazing nutrient bounty, you’ll be disappointed. Here’s a rundown of what you get in 3/4 of a cup of AG:

Ancient Grains Granola w/ Almonds
250 calories
9g of fat
135mg of sodium (ouch)
39 grams of carbs (6g dietary fiber, 9 grams sugars)
5g protein
2% daily intake of calcium
10% daily intake of iron

Let’s compare that to 3/4 of a cup of Flax Plus Pumpkin:

Nature’s Path Flax+ (Pumpkin Flax Granola)
260 calories
10g of fat
45mg of sodium
37g of carbs (5g dietary fiber, 10g sugars)
6g protein
2% daily intake of calcium
10% daily intake of iron

Hey… those look really similar. Yeah, they do. They’re almost identical. The biggest difference is really the sodium, the AG has 3 times the sodium of the Flax Plus. On a personal note, the Flax Plus is also tastier and has a much nicer texture.

Now you might say, so what? Ok… so they’re similar. What’s the problem? The problem is that the AG, right on the box, goes on and on about the amazing health benefits of Spelt, Quinoa, Amaranth and Khorasan Wheat. Protein, vitamins, fiber. Amazing! Except… well, there doesn’t seem to be much of that showing up in the numbers. Across the board the nutritional info is nearly the same, and the Flax plus is made with good old fashioned rolled oats, some pumpkin seeds and flax. So what’s the deal with these amazing ancient grains then?

There may certainly be some benefit from these old world grains, but having eaten this granola I simply don’t see it. The flavor is boring and basic, like every granola you’ve ever had before. I didn’t jump up and have amazing super powers after eating it (unless you call room clearing flatulence a power, though I cannot ascribe that completely to eating the granola).

I guess the issue here was one of expectations. I was expecting the “ancient grains” to taste different, to have different properties than the boring new stuff we eat today. I was expecting health benefits. Basically I was expecting more. And nearly all of this could have easily been solved by heading over to the website of the granola and taking a look at the labels.

Nature’s Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Flax Granola
Score: 10/10 RAWRS (Recommended, Will buy again, EAT THIS EVERYDAY)

High: excellent mouthfeel, delicious, organic and good for ya
Lows: Does contain some sugar, wish it had chia (I just add it)

Kirkland/Nature’s Path Ancient Grains Almond Granola
Score: 7/10 RAWRS (Better choices out there, won’t buy again, if you must have spelt I guess buy this)

High: Does contain Amaranth, Spelt and other “ancient grains”
Lows: Not that you can tell, hard mouthfeel, taste is fairly standard, too much sodium

One Reply to “Nutrition: Ancient Grains vs Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola”

  1. Spelt is an older form of wheat anyway. I prefer getting the “ancient grains” separately and cooking them with Bob’s Red Mill (or other mixed grain/seed) cooked cereals. That way you can get a great variety of plant seeds that may be more beneficial than wheat or corn. These include teff, millet, quinoa, amaranth, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds. Millet and wheat varieties are the oldest domesticated cereals; however, millet has not been so highly refined and crossbred like wheats. Quinoa, which cooks in about 10 minutes, is great in stews.

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