You will probably be completely shocked by what we are about to tell you. Are Oreo cookies bad for you? Are they unhealthy? If you isolate your answer based on one particular category of nutrition, you could legitimately make the argument that surprisingly, Oreos are good for you.
This particular category isn't one you will find on the nutrition facts label. No, that label indeed spells disaster. Each cookie is over 50 calories. A small serving of just 6 cookies equals out to be 320 calories, 50 grams of carbs, 28 grams of sugar, 14 grams of fat, and 4 grams of saturated fat. With facts like that, how could anyone justify them as being nutritious?!
It's the antioxidants. Believe it or not, Oreo cookies do contain antioxidants and based on this ORAC value, a fair amount. If you compare them on an equal weight basis, Oreos actually have a higher amount of antioxidants than green kale! 1840 for Oreos versus 1770 for kale.
How is that possible? The test did not evaluate the different parts of the cookie. Therefore we don't know how much antioxidants are in the vanilla creme versus the wafer. Though based on the known ORAC values for some of the raw ingredients used, we can safely conclude that practically all of the antioxidant activity is coming from the cocoa powder used. Sadly though during the past decade, the commodity price of cocoa has skyrocketed, largely due to demand from China. As a result, processed goods, everything from chocolate candies to cookies, have sometimes dramatically cut back on the amount they are using. This test was done in 2010 and we don't know if Mondelez (the manufacturer) has cut back on how much cocoa is in an Oreo and if so, by how much it was reduced. Therefore today's value may be substantially different than what you see above. All we know is last we looked in 2016, we saw chocolate last on the ingredient label. We're not sure if that's a new position or not.
Does this mean that Oreos are still bad for you? Yes. Even with the antioxidants, the horrible dietary characteristics and lack of nutritional value from this sugar-loaded treat certainly offsets that one good thing. Lastly, before you think about substituting that kale salad with a plate of cookies and a glass of cold milk, you should understand what acrylamide is.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al. Nutrition Journal NIH Jan 2010