Food Bars

Written by amy on January 7th, 2012

The grocery store can be confusing and exhausting these days, particularly when straying from the produce department or the health-conscious co-op.  To help navigate the aisles, I’ll give you my pick each week on a different type of food that might be purchased in a standard grocery store.  Keep in mind, a healthy diet is based predominantly on whole, natural foods.  My pick is your best bet among brand-name products, not necessarily the best thing to eat.  Also, review the ingredients list periodically on these foods because brands frequently change their recipes without notification.

Amy’s picks from food bars:

     Larabar

     Kind

     gnu Foods flavor&fiber

Why: Snack bars have evolved into the mainstream in a big way, far beyond their beginning as those flavorless protein bars eaten primarily by serious athletes.  When purchasing snack bars, it is important to first look at the ingredients – do you recognize many of the foods?  Is the bar a mix of whole, real, foods that you could purchase on their own?  Larabars, for example, are made from dried fruits and nuts and thats it.   Whole foods = good choice.  The last on the list, gnu Foods bars, do have some derived ingredients, such as inulin, chicory root, and wheat protein isolates.  The first two are manufactured fibers which aren’t as high on my list as naturally occurring fibers.  However, the overwhelming number of whole foods in the ingredient list compensated and helped this bar eek into third place.  Another thing to consider when purchasing these bars is the purpose of the bar – convenient snack or meal replacement.  The calorie content of food bars varies greatly and some can pack a hefty punch.  Don’t assume that smaller bars mean smaller caloric loads.  General rule of thumb is to keep snacks around 100 calories.  A third thing to consider is the sweeteners used in the bar.  “Yogurt” coatings are generally best to be avoided.  Be aware of the many names sweeteners can take in the ingredient list –  corn sweetener, corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltodextrin, malt syrup, maltose, maple sugar, molasses, raw sugar, rice syrup, rice dextrins, saccharose, sorghum, sorghum syrup, sucrose, treacle, turbinado sugar, and xylose.  Shew.  That was exhausting.  It may be easier to grab a handful of almonds and call it square.

 

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