With the popularity of “health bars” and the resulting explosion of brands available in stores today, how can you tell if the one you’re buying is really as healthy as it claims to be or is just junk food masquerading as something good for you?
This quandary stresses again the importance of checking the label out to determine if that food bar in your hand is healthy or not.
The sad truth is that most so-called health bars are really just frauds. They’re actually nothing but candy bars dressed up in a nutrition bar label.
I took a mountain bike jaunt a while ago and I wanted a nutrition bar for a quick snack to give me energy enough for the trip.
My traveling companion was kind enough to give me one of his Slimfast bars since I hadn’t brought my customary healthy energy bars with me.
Now Slimfast bars are sold as “health food” and are supposed to provide proper nutrition for people trying to diet.
What a barefaced deception that is! For what my opinion is worth, you’d be better off eating a candy bar than one of those Slimfast bars!
The very first ingredient listed in these diet bars is that popular sweet-tooth villain, corn syrup! The list continues with sugar in second place (more sweets!), then hydrogenated oils (which are trans fats), then such unpromising additives as artificial flavors and colors, still more hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners (as if more sweets were needed!), and finally highly processed soy protein isolate – all garbage!
Incidentally, while we’re on the subject, avoid those processed soy products like you’d avoid a swine flu epidemic if you want to stay healthy. I don’t have room to elaborate on that topic here, but I warned you before about the health risks of processed soy in your diet. Keep in mind that the reason soy has been so heavily promoted as a health food is because the soy industry is monumental and bloated with billions of dollars, so it has a lot of advertising clout. The truth is significantly different than their promotions.
Enough digression, let’s return to those health-food pretenders, the Slimfast bars. Besides being a nutritional hazard, that bar was nasty! You could taste the chemicals and the bar was way, way too sweet (after all, it had sugar, sugar alcohols, corn syrup, not to mention artificial sweeteners – how could it not be too sweet?). That bar is what they mean when they refer to over-engineered food.
Enough on Slimfast, now let’s talk about what a truly healthy nutrition bar is like.
The best bars are also the simplest. Fruit, nuts, and seeds are the main ingredients of the bars I’ve tried that are the best-tasting and best for you. In addition, I try to find bars that have raw and organic ingredients.
Let me give you the names of some of my personal favorites that are also really healthy.
1. Organic Food Bars – Even the brand name is simple.
The ingredients vary by the type of bar, but they usually use organic almond (or cashew) butter as the main ingredient, then add some types of organic seeds, fruit, and biosprouts (such as quinoa), and round it out with some rice protein (also organic). Organic dark chocolate is also added to some of the flavors. One branch of these bars uses nothing but raw ingredients.
These bars are both nutritious and delicious, and they offer a variety of flavors, including cranberry, blueberry, high protein, chocolate chip, and on and on (1).
General grocery stores don’t stock Organic Food Bars, but many health food markets do, including Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
2. Larabars – These bars have even fewer ingredients than Organic Food Bars. Most Larabars contain only two or three ingredients, and those are usually raw. Crushed nuts and some kind of fruit are the basic mixture, and they vary according to the type of bar.
These bars manage to be delicious without a lengthy list of chemical additives. Nuts and fruits are generally all there are in Lara’s bars. They’re a proof that sometimes less is indeed more. Whoever Lara is, her bars are top-notch.
You’ll also need to look in health food markets to find Larabars (2).
3. Prograde Cravers – Prograde Nutrition makes these bars. I am personally acquainted with the founders of Prograde Nutrition, so I know I can trust their products.
Their nutrition bars are just about the best-tasting bars it has been my pleasure to try (and in particular their peanut butter variety – yum!). And only organic ingredients go into these bars – organic dark chocolate, nut butters, rice protein, and so on.
No stores carry these bars, so you have to get them online.
Look for the Prograde Cravers – a Healthy Snack Bar website.
Nutrition bars that are actually good for you, such as the ones I mentioned here, make great snacks that are tasty, healthy, and quick when you’re at work, when you’re traveling, or any time at all that you want a handy energy-boosting bar.
I try to have some with me all the time so that I’m assured of a healthy treat when I need a quick picker-upper, and so I’m not trapped by a fast-food joint or a machine that vends junk – or a Slimfast bar!