I am long overdue to get this blog out of the pharmacy for a while and out into the aisles.
While shopping recently, I noticed something interesting when looking for convenient rice. Good old Uncle Ben offered a variety of pouches that promised a variety of rice dishes that would be ready in 90 seconds. “Deal,” I thought.
Then I read the ingredients. The best bet is Whole Grain Brown Rice with ingredients listed as “water, whole grain parboiled brown rice, canola oil and/or sunflower.” Nice and simple and low sodium too. No wonder it claims to support a healthy heart.
It was pretty close between the Jasmine and Basmati versions, with 10mg and 15mg sodium respectively, and a few added vitamins.
Then things get pretty strange. With the flavored versions and “medleys” things like wheat gluten, corn starch, corn syrup, soy, milk products, xanthan gum and more. There is even pork gelatin in the cheddar broccoli variety!
The biggest disappointment was the Long Grain and Wild variety with “23 herbs and seasonings.” Uh oh. Not only is soy, corn, wheat and yeast protein added, we find salt and sea salt, bumping the sodium to a less friendly 590mg. I could not find 23 herbs and seasonings listed. There was sugar though.
Compared to other offerings in the “center store” aisles where processed foods reign supreme, most of these choices are not too bad if you are not concerned about surprise gluten in a rice product or hidden pork, for examples. It goes to show, though, how it pays to read the labels. I will give Uncle Ben credit for truly reflecting the differences in these products in their labeling, although stating that it is an excellent source of niacin, thiamine, and folate when these are added ingredients all but one of the varieties is pushing the envelope a little. If I was grading on a curve, I guess I would give this product line a B with an A for the simple whole grain brown rice option.
And they are from Mars!