Many people assume that granola bars are healthy because they contain the word ‘granola’. Not necessarily! Unfortunately, most of today’s granola and snack bars are sugar-coated, filled with candy fixin’s like chocolate and marshmallows, and laden with high fructose corn syrup as well as countless other ingredients that I can’t even pronounce, let alone spell.
But not all bars are bad. Many, in fact, include a healthy dose of fiber as well as natural ingredients like nuts and oats. Bars can also be a great afternoon snack idea because they are convenient, compact and individually wrapped – great for portion control. And they’re definitely easy to eat on the go. Today, my team and I have put together our recommendations on the best (and worst) bars out there.
Calories - Eaten as an afternoon snack, a bar should ideally be less than 200 calories. And interestingly, often the bars that are higher in calories are also higher in sugar and/or saturated fat.
Fiber - Since fiber helps keep you full and satisfied (since it takes longer to digest), bars should have some fiber to fill you up. Aim for a bar with 3 or more grams of fiber.
Protein - Protein is another key ingredient to help keep you feeling full in the afternoon. Try to reach for a bar with at least 7 grams of protein.
Sodium - Who would have thought that many bars contain a lot of sodium?! Often, when bars are low in fat, salt is needed to repalce the flavor lost when fat is removed. Go for bars with less than 60mg of sodium.
Sugar - Most bars out there are loaded with sugar to help improve their taste. Compare the grams of sugar to the grams of fiber in a bar and aim for a ratio of no more than 3 to 1. For instance, if a bar has 4 grams of fiber, it should have no more than 12 grams of sugar.
Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to find bars that meet all of our requirements. So the bottom line is choose the bars that keep you the most satisfied without making you crave more. And even the best bars don’t hold a candle to fruits, vegetables and yogurt. So choose bars when you’re on the go and don’t have access to fresh produce and low-fat dairy products
Heather’s Bar Picks
Regular – Luna Bar in Caramel Nut Brownie
Raw – Organic Fiber Bar in Chocolate Dream or Apple Apple
Snickers Marathon Energy Bars – These bars are overloaded with sugar (15-21 grams of sugar per bar) – YIKES!
Stephanie’s Bar Picks
Regular– Kind Bar in Almond & Apricot
Raw – Wild Bar in Mayan Spice
Special K Cereal Bars – Although it’s low in calories (90 calories), it has a higher sodium content than the typical bar (120mg) and has hydrogenated oils and a large ingredient list
Dara’s Bar Picks
Regular – TLC Kashi Bar in Pumpkin Spice Flax
Raw- Larabar’s in Peanut Butter & Jelly
Fiber One Bars – These bars have too many unhealthy ingredients including high fructose corn syrup and high maltose corn syrup