By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine.
Supermarket aisles are being flooded with snack or meal replacement bars marketed as a nutritious option, but how healthy are these bars really? Here are our top five criteria for a bar worth buying.
1) Recognisable Ingredients
Do you keep things like soy protein crispies, whey protein concentrate, maltitol and humectant in your pantry? ‘Nuff said.
Skip the plastic-tasting protein bars and go for a bar made with real food, like At One Foods Cacao Mint Raw Paleo Bar. With all-natural ingredients like fibre and potassium-packed caramel-y dates and creamy cashews for some protein and healthy fats, I know what I’d rather be snacking on (plus it tastes like an after-dinner mint ).
2) A Short and Sweet List of Ingredients
If a bar has an ingredients list as long as your arm, it probably should go back on the shelf. A long ingredients list usually indicates a highly processed product loaded with rubbish ingredients and artificial nasties.
Check out the fruit and nut bars at your local health food store instead and you’ll find a nice range with a simple list of ingredients. We like varieties with nothing but raw nuts and seeds, a little dried fruit for natural sweetness, plus some spices like cinnamon and superfoods like cacao for a nutritional boost and to bring out the ingredients’ natural flavours. Often less is more.
3) NO Vegetable Oil or Margarine
Also known as canola, rapeseed, peanut or soybean oil, vegetable oil may sound healthy but it’s actually a cheap, mass-produced product commonly found in highly processed foods with a long shelf life.
One reason we don’t love vegetable oil at GoodnessMe Box HQ is because of its high omega-6 content. Although it’s an essential fatty acid, when consumed in a higher ratio to omega-3 (found in oily fish like salmon, and to a lesser extent in walnuts, flaxseeds and chia) it can encourage inflammation by eliminating anti-inflammatory omega-3.
Bars containing margarine are no better; A highly processed spread, margarine is made with ‘hydrogenated’ or hardened vegetable oil, a potential source of artery-clogging trans fats.
4) NO Refined Sugar
We prefer only natural forms of sugar in our bars at GoodnessMe, whether that’s in the form of organic dried fruit (no sulphur, thanks) or perhaps a little low fructose rice malt syrup. Remember that dried fruit is not just sugar; it’s a wholefood rich in nutrients like fibre, iron and potassium.
There’s no point eating a bar that tastes bland or ‘blah’, even if it’s good for you. Wholesome food when done right should taste awesome, so if you’ve had a healthy bar that’s put you off, give another one a go. If you’re a health foodie or even just a foodie, get yourself a Coconut Goji Raw Paleo Bar from At One Foods and thank me later.