healthy bar ingredientsSnack food bars have come a long way from the traditional granola bar that we had as kids. Many of today’s snack food bars are packed with protein, vitamins, and/or superfoods to make them more nutritious. This is the reason why they have become the go-to snack for many. Plus, they are easily portable and can be stashed in your purse, desk drawer, or gym bag for an on-the-go snack option. Let’s examine the ingredients and nutrition label from a popular snack food bar.

Examining the Ingredients

Ingredients are listed in descending order by amount, so we can see that this bar is predominantly made up of organic almond butter – the asterisk (*) in the label indicates organic ingredients. Just as almonds are excellent for our health, so is almond butter (which is made from roasted almonds that are ground up). Almond butter is rich in vitamin E (which may help stop plaque in the arteries), magnesium, copper, vitamin B2, and phosphorus. It is also high in monosaturated fats, which help to lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Almond butter also contains a small amount of calcium – which is important for bone health – and the magnesium helps our bodies absorb the calcium. So far, this snack bar would be a great choice!

The second ingredient is organic honey. While honey is high in sugar, it’s a better alternative than refined sugar because it’s more complex – this means that your body expends more energy to break it down to glucose and, therefore, you accumulate less calories from it. Honey even has some health benefits including small amounts of minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium and/or potassium, and some vitamins (depending on where the source of the honey is from). The third ingredient is almond pieces which are good for you (as stated in the first paragraph). The fourth ingredient is organic dried whole egg powder which is the dried version of fresh eggs. Egg powder has the same amount of protein as real eggs, but is lactose free and lower in cholesterol and fat. Often it is used as a binder in prepared foods – which is probably the case for it in this bar, along with providing extra protein. The fifth ingredient is sesame seeds. These contain a lot of bone-building materials such as copper, manganese, magnesium, and calcium and good-for-us fats.

The remainder of the ingredients are dried whole food powders that are considered “superfoods” (kale, flax seed, etc.,) which all individually have their own health benefits, although they may be in small amounts so I cannot attest to how effective those benefits are in this bar. Sunflower lecithin is also included which comes from the gum of the sunflower that is dehydrated and then processed through a cold press system. It is rich in choline and other essential fatty acids. And the last ingredients include a few different organic oils – sunflower, sesame seed, olive, and pumpkin – all of which have health benefits.

Overall, this snack food bar is looking pretty good! Now, let’s look at the nutrition label.

Calories per serving

One bar is 320 calories per serving. Generally, you should aim for 200 to 300 calories for a snack, with at least 10 grams of protein. This snack bar is a little on the higher end, but if you are more active, it could be a good option for you. If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, this may not be a good choice.

Fat

The total fat on this product is 19 grams per serving so this would not be considered a low-fat snack. The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20% to 35% of total calories from fat. If you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, that is about 44 to 77 grams of fat per day.

There are 1.5 grams of saturated fat which they state is about 8% of your daily value (“%DV” on the label). Saturated fat and trans fats are unhealthy fats and the recommendation for saturated fat intake is to get no more than 25-30% of daily calories from these fats. That means that for a 2,000-calorie diet, only about 140-200 calories (or 16 to 22 grams) should come from these fats per day. By eating this bar, you will hit half the recommended intake for total fat and saturated fat for the day.

However, this bar also contains 4.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 12 grams of monounsaturated fats – which are the “good” fats.

Balancing fats – consuming the “good” and “bad” fats – is better than consuming the “bad” fats alone. Although this bar is on the higher side of fat, it has a good balance of both good and bad fats.

Sodium

Adults need about 1,500-2,000 mg of sodium per day and children (ages 6-18 years old) should eat less than 2,300 mg per day.

This product has 45 mg of sodium per serving (2% DV) which would be considered low.

Carbohydrates

Many people are low or no-carb these days, but carbohydrates aren’t all bad. Your body needs some carbohydrates to function well. How many carbs a person should consume in a day depends on the person and their activity level and other factors (pregnant or breastfeeding). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming 45 to 65 percent of our daily calories as carbohydrates. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that would be anywhere from 225 to 325 grams.

This bar has 25 grams of carbohydrates so it would not be considered a low-carb snack.

Sugars

This bar has 18 grams of sugar (including 12 grams of added sugar from the honey). Eighteen grams of sugar is equivalent to about 4 ½ teaspoons of granulated sugar. It is recommended that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (25 grams) per day and men consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day. This snack would be considered a high-sugar snack.

Protein

The protein in this bar is 13 grams. It’s recommended that your protein intake be 10 to 35 percent of your calories on a 2,000-calorie diet. That translates to 50-175 grams. While 13 grams of protein is a nice amount for this snack, you may be able to come up with other options that are lower in fat and calories and higher in protein like tuna in lettuce or vegetables with a Greek yogurt dip.

If you are interested in healthy snacks with less fat and sugar, click here.

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