If you take a walk down the granola bar aisle at the grocery store these days, there are more than enough snack bars to choose from – granola, cereal and high protein bars to name a few.
Many people aren’t sure how many calories or grams of fat or sugar is too many or what is healthy and what is not. Some bars may seem healthy due to being individually wrapped for potion control or containing granola, dried fruit or nuts.
But many of these bars are made with high fructose corn syrup and feature chocolate bits, candy coatings and artificial flavorings, making them more similar to a candy bar than a snack bar.
To find the most nutritious pick, take a look at the ingredients list. Whole grains should be listed first, such as whole wheat flour, oats or brown rice. It is best to avoid bars made with refined grains and those made with partially hydrogenated oils or palm kernel oils, as they can be a source of saturated and trans-fats.
Aim for less than 2 gm saturated fat and 0 gm trans-fat per serving. Be sure to check out the number of calories per bar. If you are looking for an easy snack to enjoy between meals, choose bars ranging from 100 to 200 calories. Many bars can have 200 to 300 calories and can be used as meal replacement rather than as a snack.
It’s also important to keep an eye on the amount of sugar per serving; many snack bars can have as much or more sugar as a candy bar. Look for bars with less than 12 gm of sugar. Check the ingredients for processed sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, corn syrup and fruit juice syrups, which can increase the sugar load. Opt for bars with 3 to 5 gm of fiber and at least 5 gm of protein per serving to keep you feeling full and satisfied until your next meal. Some bars that meet or come close to this criteria are KIND, Clif and Kashi bars.
So the next time you are shopping for snack or cereal bars, take a few more minutes to read the labels to find something healthy and enjoyable.