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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Which sweet treat takes the biscuit?

We're a nation who enjoys a cuppa, and what would a cup of tea be like without a biscuit? It might explain why the biscuit market has grown by 17pc in the past five years, and is now estimated to be worth in the region of €310m.

"If you want to maintain a healthy diet yet feel like a treat now and then there are certain biscuits I would recommend over others," says dietician Aveen Bannon who founded the Dublin Nutrition Centre in 2003.

"I would go for digestive biscuits," Bannon says, "I would also choose HobNobs for the oats and fibre. The rule is never to have more than two at a time," she says. "I would suggest as an occasional treat Rich Tea -- low in calories -- or Jaffa Cakes -- low in fat but high in sugar, and low calorie," Aveen says.

Nutritionist Emma Buckley adds: "I wouldn't say ban the biscuit, although because I don't eat sugary things regularly I don't crave them."

The Dublin-based health expert suggests the following approach: "When buying confectionery, look for the biscuits which are lowest in sugar. Be aware of serving sizes -- you might go for a smaller biscuit."

Emma goes on, "I know not everyone wants an apple when a sweet craving hits, but I find they work very well," the nutritionist says.

So are there any guidelines when shopping for biscuits which err on the side of health and nutrition. An adult's recommended daily intake is 2,000 calories for a woman, and 2,500 for a man. The recommended daily sugar intake is 90g for a woman and 120g for a man.

We did a taste test of some of the nation's favourite biscuits -- and then had a look at what damage we had done calories wise. We gave each biscuit a Treat Score based on taste satisfaction vs calorie intake.

Jacobs Jaffa Cakes 20 cake pack, 294g, €3.55.

Taste test: Blend of chocolate, and orange and spongy bits made Jaffa Cakes a favourite

Sin rating: 53 calories per cake, 7.9g sugars, 0.5g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 9/10

St Bernard Rich Tea 300g, price ¤0.37

Taste test: The urge to put butter on this sweet biscuit is unreal.

Sin rating: 45 calories per biscuit, 2g sugars, 0.6g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 6/10

McVitie's Milk

Chocolate Digestives 300g, price €2.19.

Taste test: Chocolatey aroma followed by crunchy bite, but the crumbs went everywhere.

Sin rating: 84 calories per biscuit, 5.1g sugars, 2.1g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 6/10

Elkes Custard Creams 300g, ¤0.68

Taste test: Thick with a buttery centre.

Sin rating: 63 calories per biscuit, 3.6g sugars, 1.5g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 7/10

Jacob's Fig Rolls 300g, €2.79.

Taste test: This biscuit has a pleasant smell and texture with a good, juicy figgy filling.

Sin rating: 61 calories per biscuit, 6.9g sugars, 0.6g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 7/10

Jacob's Nice 200g, €1.49.

Taste test: A thin crisp bite with granules of sugar.

Sin rating: 40 calories per biscuit, 2g sugars, 0.9g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 6/10

McVities's Ginger Nuts 250g, €1.49.

Taste test: These have a soft crumbly texture and a strong spicy ginger taste.

Sin rating: 47 calories per biscuit, 3.1g sugars, 0.8g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 7/10

Burtons Jammie Dodgers 150g, €1.

Taste test: A little dry but Jammie Dodgers' saving grace is the generous quantity of jam in the middle.

Sin rating: 83 calories per biscuit, 6.8g sugars, 1.3g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 6/10

Jacob's Elite Chocolate Tea Cakes 300g, €2.75.

Taste test: Love the fact these chocolate yummies come individually wrapped, so you are less likely to slip your hand in for a second helping.

Sin rating: 105 calories per cake, 13.2g sugars, 2.2g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 7/10

Cadbury Fingers 125g, ¤0.99.

Taste test: A pleasant biscuit covered by a decent bit of milk chocolate. Good size for a treat.

Sin rating: 120 calories per serving, 7.6 g sugars, 2.4g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 6/10

Lifeforce Rice Cakes with Popcorn 100g, €1.

Taste test:Tasty yet could be addictive.

Sin rating: 30 calories per cake, the only other information given is 2.9g fat per 100g, and 85.3g carbohydrate per 100g.

TREAT SCORE: 4/10

Jacob's Mikado 300g, €2.78.

Taste test: Instant sweet rush from soft pink sponge and jam filling.

Sin rating: 53 calories per biscuit, 5.5g sugars, 1g saturates.

TREAT SCORE: 9/10

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