SNACK BARS


 Which snack bars have the least amount of sugar?
Which bars should you leave out of your kids’ lunches?
You might be surprised to find out who the worst offenders are.


Honestly, I had a really hard time bringing myself to write this post. It was depressing and it made me want to take a toothbrush to my insides.

You see, I’d consumed a whole lotta snack bars in my lifetime.  My family still enjoys the occasional "healthy" snack bar.  Snack bars really are quite innocent looking and many people, including children, associate granola bars with “health” food.  What I learned left me kind of angry and disgusted!

There are so many snack bars out there with pictures of wholesome oats and claims of high fiber.    It's true that many are low-calorie snack bars, but what’s the point of eating 90-100 calories, if those calories are void of any nutrition!  The truth is, most snack bars today are glorified candy bars...bars like these:

Sugar 1 Fibre 1 Chewy Bars – 34% Sugar

With 34% sugar these bars should be called "sugar1".

Ingredients: Glucose-fructose, Peanut Butter Flavoured Drops (sugar, modified palm and palm kernel oil, partially defatted peanut flour, modified milk ingredients, peanut butter [peanuts], salt, soy lecithin), Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Inulin, Crisp Rice (rice flour, sugar, malt extract, salt), High Maltose Corn Syrup, Barley Flakes, Honey, Roasted Peanuts, Peanut Butter Flavoured Coating (sugar, modified palm kernel oil, partially defatted peanut flour, modified milk ingredients, peanut butter [peanuts], salt, soy lecithin), Canola and/or Soybean Oil, Sugar, Glycerin, Maltodextrin, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavour, Peanut Oil, Baking Soda, Monoglycerides, Caramel Colour, Rice Bran Extract, Tocoperols, Extract of Rosemary, Ascorbic Acid.

They claim on the box to be “naturally flavoured”, but then list “artificial flavour” and a whole lot of modified this and partially defatted that. Yuck!  As you will see later, there’s much better choices out there....so, to the guy in that Fibre1 commercial … Yes, you were better off eating the paper bag!


President’s Choice Blue Menu Chewy Granola Bars – 35% Sugar


I thought PC's Blue Menu line was supposed to be healthy?  These bars have even more sugar than the Fibre1 bars.  They only have 1 gram of fiber, and contain unnecessary sulphites. 


Look at how often sugar shows up as different ingredients in these bars: Granola (Rolled Oats, Wheat Flakes, Sugar/Glucose-Fructose, Glucose, Honey, Canola And/Or Soybean Oil, Fancy Molasses, Salt, Vegetable Monoglycerides), Glucose, Rice Flour, Cranberries (Contain Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Dehydrated Apples (Contain Sulphites), Glycerin, Honey, Fructose, Sugar/Glucose-Fructose, Canola And/Or Soybean Oil, Salt, Vegetable Monoglycerides, Citric Acid, Natural Flavour. 


NutriGrain “Fruit” Bars – 35% Sugar

Nutrigrain boasts bars “made with 8 grams of whole grain and real fruit filling … a source of fibre …  a delicious snack you can feel good about eating”.  Like many bars, the ingredients are broken into different components and sugar types, so that “sugar” isn’t listed as the first ingredient.

Crust: Whole oats, sugar/glucose-fructose, wheat flour, whole wheat flour, vegetable oil, water, chicory root (inulin), dextrose, milk ingredients, wheat bran, salt, cellulose, potassium bicarbonate, natural and artificial flavour, cinnamon, mono- and diglycerides, soy lecithin, wheat gluten, cornstarch, carrageenan, guar gum.  Filling: Sugar/glucose-fructose, apple puree concentrate, glycerin, water, sodium alginate, modified corn starch, malic acid, methylcellulose, calcium phosphate, cinnamon, citric acid, colour.

Nutrigrain … your “fruit” filling doesn’t leave me with a “good feeling” about your bars.  They have 2 grams of fibre.  That’s the same amount as a Quaker Chewy smores or rocky road bar!


Special K Snack Bars 36% – 39% Sugar


Special K bars “are perfect for those who enjoy snacking and staying in shape.” Their commercials feature women getting in shape, and they often do promos giving away exercise gear. 

Here’s the truth … Special K bars are 36% sugar, and as if that’s not sweet enough, they also contain sorbitol. Their “Feel like a kid in a candy store” ad in the latest Special K coupon book, says it all.



Ingredients – Multigrain cereal (rice flour, wheat flour, whole oat flour, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate, monoglycerides), sugar, glucose-fructose, cocoa cereal (rice, sugar, cocoa, salt, coconut oil, calcium phosphate, barley malt syrup, natural and artificial flavours, colour), bran cereal (wheat, sugar, wheat bran, salt, malt [corn flour, malted barley], calcium phosphate, glucose-fructose, maltodextrin), fructose, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, dextrose, vegetable oil, cocoa, modified milk ingredients, sorbitol, glycerin, natural and artificial flavours, soy lecithin, colour, salt, sorbitan monostearate, polysorbate 60, BHT

Special K Fruit Crisps are even worse.  In fact, they top the sugar pile at 39%.  They have no fiber.  How is that even possible with multigrain and bran cereal listed in the ingredients?  It’s a grain-refined, sugar and chemical potluck.  There is nothing that promotes “health” about these bars.


The Moral of the Story is:  Read the Ingredients Every Time!

Interestingly, the online nutrition labels for Quaker chewy bars, come with a big red warning that says: “READ THE LABEL EVERY TIME”.  It’s as if they were trying to tell us something.  A closer look reveals that these bars contain Sorbitol (sugar alcohol/substitute), BHT (synthetic preservative), and sulphites (an unnecessary allergens).  Thanks for the warning Quaker!


The Best Low-Sugar Snack Bars



Because the bars varied so much in size, I listed them in order of sugar content percentage.  Once I did that, it was pretty clear to me that we have a top 6!  Remember though that nothing beats homemade!



Enjoy Life – Sunbutter Crunch

Vegan, Gluten, Peanut, Soy-Free & non-GMO!

These have only 4 grams of sugar per bar (14%), and have 3 grams of fiber and protein. I like these, but my kids didn’t really like them.

Ingredients:  Sunflower seed butter (roasted sunflower kernels, evaporated cane juice, salt), rice crisps (rice flour, rice bran, raisin juice concentrate, honey, salt), brown rice syrup, vegetable glycerin, sorghum flour, safflower oil, and/or sunflower oil, brown rice flakes, brown rice flour, chicory root inulin, date paste, gum arabic, xanthan gum, salt.



Kashi Chewy Granola Bars


These bars have between 5-6 grams of sugar (14%-17%), 4 grams of fiber, and 6-7 grams of protein.

The whole family has always liked these.  Unfortunately, Kashi still uses genetically engineered soy.


INGREDIENTS (for Seven whole grain and almonds)Seven whole grains and sesame blend (Whole: hard red wheat, oats, rye, barley, triticale, long grain brown rice, buckwheat, sesame seeds), whole almonds, brown rice syrup, soy protein isolate, toasted soy grits, evaporated cane juice, chicory root (inulin), whole flaxseed, evaporated cane juice syrup, rice starch, corn flour, honey, expeller pressed canola oil, glycerin, oat hull fibre, salt, natural flavour, cane juice molasses, soy lecithin, peanut flour, milk ingredients, annatto colour.




Nonuttin granola bars


Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, and non-GMO.

5 grams of sugar each (17%), but only 2 grams of fiber and protein.  I bought the Double Chocolate Chunk and the Chocolate Chip Granola bars.  The kids really liked these.

Ingredients:  Certified pure oats, brown rice syrup, crisp rice (rice flour, rice bran, raisin juice concentrate, honey, salt), expeller pressed canola oil, semi-sweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla extract, salt), organic evaporated cane juice.


Tasty Alternatives:



Larabars


Vegan, Gluten and Soy-Free and Non-GMO! 

Larabars are made from one or very few simple ingredients.

Larabars are a whole food alternative bar made from dates and have no added sugar.  Please note though that they are high in naturally occurring (whole fruit) sugar so they should be consumed in moderation. (For more on dates click here.)



Taste of Nature

Gluten-Free, Vegan and Non-GMO

Taste of Nature Bars are primarily made from nuts, coconut, seeds and dried fruit.  They are a bit higher in sugar but are fairly clean (although I could do without the agave syrup).

Each bar has between 2 and 4 grams of fiber and between 7 and 11 grams of sugar.  The coconut breeze is the best bang for your buck.

Conclusion

Here's the thing.... if you enjoy eating the sugary snack bars, then enjoy them.  Just don’t do so under the guise of them being a “health” food.  Be aware of what’s in your food and make the most informed choices that you can.







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