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How Healthy is Oprah's New Comfort Food Line?

How Healthy is Oprah's New Comfort Food Line Anyway?

image via Oprah/Instagram

Earlier this month, Oprah launched her first food line, O, That's Good!, which feature comfort foods the media mogul loves "with a nutritious twist."

"It all started with the idea for the cauliflower mashed potatoes -- the twist is really what sparked this whole idea," Oprah recently told USA Today. "I was sitting at my table in my own home and had whipped up some cauliflower, trying to make myself think I was eating mashed potatoes, but it was not working. So I thought, 'What if I used a portion of the mashed potatoes and added the cauliflower? Then, I would have a substantive mashed potato-cauli dish.'"

The comfort food collection includes four refrigerated side dishes and four refrigerated soups: Original Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (both with added mashed cauliflower), Three Cheese Pasta (with added butternut squash), Creamy Parmesan Pasta (with added white beans), Broccoli Cheddar Soup (with added butternut squash), Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (with added celery and carrots), Baked Potato Soup (with added cauliflower) and Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (with added pureed sweet potatoes and carrots). 

Though Oprah, who is a Weight Watcher's spokesperson, said of the food collection that it was a "natural" choice for her to make. But how healthy is it, really?

Julie Upton, MS, RD, a Bay area-based registered dietitian with Appetite For Health who's sampled the collection, says it's not quite as healthy as perhaps Oprah says it is.

"The new line of O That's Good! soups and pasta/potato dishes are tasty but most of the products would not be considered 'healthy' in the eyes of the FDA or most dietitians," Upton tells Organic Authority. "The dishes all have a so-called 'twist' of a veggie puree, like cauliflower added to mashed potatoes or butternut squash added to the Three Cheese Pasta dish but the other ingredients seem to drown out the benefits of the added veggies. Some of these ingredients are lots of cream, milk and cheese."

And, as with any packaged product, there are issues with sodium, saturated fat and added sugars with some of the specific items in the line.

From the Organic Authority Files

"For example, in the Three Cheese Pasta dish, there is 830 mg of sodium per a puny 1-cup serving," says Upton. "That is more than 1/3 of all the sodium you should have in a day."(2400 mg is the recommended sodium limit.)

While the sugar counts on the products are not super high, Upton would have preferred to see that they were made with no added sugars at all. "The products include dextrose as the added sugar. It is a common sugar alias that many consumers don't recognize but it is metabolically equivalent to any simple sugar."

As for the healthy authenticity of the products, according to Upton, these products fall flat.

"For individuals that like to see only a few ingredients, these products will be a disappointment as they have a laundry list of ingredients commonly used in processed packaged foods including carrageenan, sodium and calcium phosphate, cellulose and gelatin," says Upton.

Though Upton sees Oprah's food line as a better alternative than dining out, she cautions that they should not be seen as a replacement for fresh, whole veggies.

If you would still like to sample Oprah's new food collection, Upton suggests eating the tomato basil soup ("It's the healthiest of the options, but it still exceeds the FDA's guidelines for 'healthy' due to having 4.5 grams of saturated fat per serving"), or eating the pasta dishes with a large salad or a plate of roasted veggies, or partnering it with a lean protein to a create a more balanced, diet-friendly meal.

The takeaway? It seems like O's new food line is less than oh-so-good, and more of an uh-oh.

[This article was updated on August 30. It incorrectly stated that the O, That's Good products are organic.]

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