Belvita biscuits are popular breakfast crackers sold as a nutritious breakfast convenience food for hectic schedules. The original crispy-style wafer offers ‘4 hrs of energy’ in what is advertised as a healthful bar. Belvita’s popularity helped establish a new genre of commercial food promises. However, since marketing is often merely hype, is Belvita healthy after all?
Let’s take a look at the ingredients and discuss how Belvita might fit into an overall healthy diet, or maybe why it doesn’t.
General Information about Belvita
Belvita is a well-marketed cracker product introduced to America in 2012 as a healthy breakfast biscuit, which has grown to global annual sales of over $600M. The brand markets itself as a responsible food choice—one that tastes like a treat. The appeal of a healthy cookie for breakfast turned out to be a springboard to retail sales.
Is there good news under all the success? Are we being led to eating cookies in false hope … or is Belvita healthy, and truly what it claims?
Answering yes to “is Belvita healthy?” is not made easier when noting the crackers are excellent for dunking, store well if sealed, and come in desert-friendly flavors including blueberry, cranberry/orange, cinnamon brown sugar, and chocolate. The senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest has stated, “Breakfast biscuits are a marketing ploy to sell cookies for breakfast.”
So apart from the advertising: is Belvita healthy?
Ingredients in Belvita
These are the main seven (7) ingredients of the Orange-Cranberry biscuits, which are similar to the other flavors:
- Whole Grain;
- Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, B1, B2, Folic Acid];
- Canola Oil;
- Whole Grain;
- Dried Cranberries;
- Invert Sugar.
Putting its healthy image first, a pair of grain products are combined into a ‘Whole Grain Blend.’ Please note the biscuits contain soy and wheat.
White flour with vitamin dust is the second major ingredient, followed by sugar. Further down is Invert Sugar, which shares the elemental profile of dreaded High Fructose Corn Syrup without the dreaded name.
Four crunchy biscuits equal one serving. Broken down, each cracker contains about 2g of fat and 55mg of salt, and a little less than a gram each of fiber and of protein. These stats aren’t too bad … except for the culprit within much-processed food: all that sugar.
BelVita Breakfast Bars Nutritional Information
BelVita breakfast bars are known as a good source of fiber and low in fats. As an example, below are the nutritional facts for one 50-gram pack (four biscuits) of the popular BelVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bars.
- Total calories: 230
- Total calories from fat: 80
- Total fat: 8 grams (12 percent of daily value)
- Saturated fat: 0.5g (3 percent of daily value)
- Trans fat: 0.0 g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g
- Monounsaturated fat: 5 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 220 mg (9 percent of daily value)
- Potassium: 85 mg (2 percent of daily value)
- Total Carbohydrates: 35 g. (12 percent of daily value)
- Dietary Fiber: 3 g. (12 percent of daily value)
- Sugars: 11 g
- Protein: 4g
Vitamins and Minerals, percentages of daily requirements:
- Vitamin A: 0 percent
- Vitamin C: 0 percent
- Calcium: 0 percent
- Iron: 10 percent
- Thiamin: 10 percent
- Riboflavin: 10 percent
- Niacin: 10 percent
- Vitamin B6: 10 percent
Marketing and Advertising Strategy for BelVita Breakfast Bars
The BelVita brand is one of the companies owned by Mondelez International, the largest snack and confectionery company in the United Kingdom. Other sub-brands include Cadbury, Oreos, Trident, and beverages such as coffees, teas and chocolates.
The parent company’s marketing aim is to tie all their sub-brands together to play from each units’ strengths to achieve customer brand loyalty. The marketing tie-in is the color purple and the concept of joy across its international presence. Mondelez International sells their products across the Americas, Asia, and its most important market, Europe. Marketing of BelVita communicates that breakfast matters and a BelVita breakfast bar is a healthy breakfast to eat on the go.
BelVita includes two primary marketing segments. First are younger adults from 24 to 30 years old, the second is adults 34 to 40 years old. Both identified segments are those who regularly eat breakfast but who are busy in the morning and appreciate a convenient yet healthy meal they can eat during a hectic commute to school or work.
The Health Benefits/Negatives when Eating BelVita Breakfast Bars on a Regular Basis
Proponents of the BelVita bars state that the bars contain complex carbohydrates that keep a person fuller for a longer time. The bars contain healthy fiber and vitamins. The BelVita breakfast bars allow a person to eat a balanced breakfast food without preparation or shopping for the ingredients to bake their breakfast biscuits.
While 20g of whole grain per serving is an excellent profile for a breakfast bar, there is a problem with the amount of sugar. The BelVita bars contain about 3 teaspoons per serving. That’s nearly as much as two average cups of coffee. An ideal healthy cereal should have fewer than 5 grams of sugar. BelVita contains 13 grams. The amount of fiber per serving, 3 grams, comes in somewhat short of the ideal of 4 grams.
Dangers of Belvita biscuits
There is a lot of sugar in a Belvita cracker. Not only is generic Sugar the third largest ingredient, but Invert Sugar comes in at #7! This labeling division obscures whether sugar is actually the main ingredient. We hope not.
A serving of four (4) crackers contains about three (3) teaspoons of sugar. Marketing plays up the idea of Belvita as a nutritious choice, but consumers should be aware that its sweetness comes at the usual price.
Interestingly, the labeled amounts pertain to a serving of four crunchy biscuits, not the more recent soft flavors. Sugar, fat, and carbohydrates in a single soft Belvita biscuit are almost four (4!) times an original crunchy type. Consumers who don’t read carefully may miss this measurement switch. Without any change in eating habits, such consumers would unwittingly eat nearly four times their previous calorie and sugar consumption in crackers.
Is Invert Sugar Just Another Name for High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?
Belvita includes Invert Sugar, a product favored because its fine granules create a smooth texture and dissolve easily.
Natural methods of inverting sugar occur when making jam, but industrial production methods were invented. The method that offers the high volume needed to satisfy commercial production results in HFCS.
Both HFCS and invert sugar are sweeter than regular sugar. There are claims that these are different elements made of different processes, but the end results seem basically the same.
Are There Benefits from Belvita Biscuits?
What about the question: is Belvita healthy? No one should expect these cookie biscuits to be health food, and there are definitely worse options.
Keeping perspective is important. Belvita is a great healthy choice compared to missing breakfast entirely. Also, a cup of yogurt or fruit with Belvita greatly improves the quality of a quick meal.
To answer positively the question “is Belvita healthy?” remember moderation is key. Reasonable consumption of the biscuits is not a diet-killer, but it’s not helpful. Even if not an ideal food, however, Belvita may be a practical solution on occasion.
Is Belvita Healthy Enough for Your Diet Goals?
The breakfast biscuit probably isn’t an earth-shattering revolution for health-on-the-go, but its popularity reveals consumer interest in better nutrition. Consumers should stay informed, because Belvita’s success may lead to more and better future nutrition/taste/convenience options.
In the meantime, remember that packaging is to sell, not inform. “It’s better than a donut!” is not a slogan for winning marketing awards. Consumers must realize cheap, mass-produced convenience food will likely always be a compromise, and decide accordingly.
Remember that Belvita’s success came as a convenient and tasty food that is not too unhealthy–not as a truly healthy choice.
Image source: depositphotos.com