This post is inspired by something I found in my cabinet today: a Nature’s Valley Strawberry Yogurt granola bar. I don’t eat granola bars (for the reasons you’ll read later in this post) but I picked the thing up just to read the label for kicks. Most people think granola bars are the prime example of a healthy snack. However, the packaged, over-processed, foil-wrapped concoctions that we are munching on are far from healthy.
In this seemingly innocent snack labeled a “chewy granola bar with a naturally flavored yogurt coating,” not to mention an “excellent source of calcium” and “good source of whole grain,” was a number of nutritional nightmares. After reading the ingredient list, I found sugar listed nine times in the form of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, high maltose corn syrup, and fructose. Most of us know that high fructose corn syrup is the most poisonous of sweeteners and should be avoided at all costs (much like trans fats, or hydrogenated oils). High fructose corn syrup is listed as an ingredient numerous times in addition to the other sweeteners. This tiny bar packs in 13 grams of sugar and a number of preservatives and chemicals. It only has one measly gram of fiber.
What about healthier granola bars? The ones that are truly “natural” or “organic”? Well, I picked up some nutritional info on a Clif bar, a popular choice for the more health-conscious granola-eater.
Now, Clif bars can boast that they don’t contain any high fructose corn syrup and that a form of sugar only appears four times in the ingredient list (as brown rice syrup, malt extract, evaporated cane juice, and organic evaporated cane juice). However, when you look at the nutrition facts, you’ll see that one bar still contains a whopping 21 grams of sugar. It does have 5 grams of fiber, however, it’s 230 calories which is pretty hefty for a granola bar.
I’ve yet to find a granola bar that isn’t full of sugar or over-processed and full of chemicals and preservatives. The moral of the story? Be smart about your packaged food. Read the label. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, and when a number of sugar synonyms are a recurring theme in the ingredient list, put it back.
If you need a healthy, quick snack, plain nuts or seeds provide protein. A fresh piece of fruit is a much wiser choice than dried fruit. Dried fruit loses beneficial water content and is much higher in sugar than a piece of fresh fruit.
Read the label,