Is Your Health Food Bar More Bad for You than Chocolate?

Health food bars seem like the holy grail of diet snacking, but how good are they for you, really? Clever marketing and branding, with a few non-regulated buzzwords, means you rarely check the back of the packet before you buy. After all, it’s got fruit, fibre and protein in it, why wouldn’t it be good for you? In actual fact, your average health food bar often contains a hodgepodge of dodgy ingredients compressed into a product that winds up being much closer to a chocolate bar, or even worse in terms of nutritional value. We’ve rounded up six of the worst offenders, but this isn’t an extensive list by any standard, so remember to always read the label.

1. PowerBar Fruit Smoothie Energy Bar (Berry Blast): A blast of berries may seem ideal, but these are just empty superfood buzzwords, without a berry in sight on the ingredient list! What you are, in fact, eating is evaporated cane juice syrup, followed by sugar, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, and fructose (read: sugar, sugar, sugar and sugar). Moreover, this bar is dripping in calories and has more than double the sugar of your average chocolate bar.

2. Quaker Oatmeal to Go Apples & Cinnamon: Breakfast in a square with oats as the first ingredient? What’s this doing on this list? Sure, the first ingredient is great but as the second one is high-fructose corn syrup, you can see how Quaker Oatmeal to Go might not be so great for your wellness after all. Even though it has an extra gram of protein than your average chocolate bar, this breakfast bar has almost twice as much sugar and more calories. Plus, it contains lost of nasty components, such as artificial colours, chemical preservatives, a number of sugars in their various guises, and two types of partially hydrogenated oils.

3. Genisoy Chunky Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Bar: As this list goes, this bar isn’t such a bad offender but it’s on here for three reasons; calories, sugar and low-fibre. There’s 220 calories in the Genisoy Chunky Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Bar (which is more than you would find in chocolate), 22g of sugar (which, again, is more than your average chocolate bar contains) and only 2g of fibre (which is half the amount you’d get in chocolate).

4. Met-Rx Big 100 Colossal Peanut Butter Pretzel: This isn’t a snack; it’s a full-blown 410-calorie and 28g-of-sugar meal! The Colossal Peanut Butter Pretzel’s second, third, and fourth ingredients are corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar, so all it’s going to give you is a colossal case of diabetes and weight gain.

5. Muscle Milk Vanilla Toffee Crunch Bar: As a general rule, the phrase “vanilla toffee crunch” doesn’t go hand-in-hand with “diet and nutrition wellness,” but you’d think that a nutritional supplement company who makes such a bar would at least attempt to throw in a little goodness. The primary ingredient in this bar is evaporated cane juice (as in, sugar cane), but the bar also plays host to nine other forms of sugar and two types of hydrogenated oils. Sure, there’s more protein in the crunch bar than you would find in a bar of chocolate, but as the protein comes from hydrolyzed gelatine, it’s not really something to shout about.

6. Seitenbacher Banana Cranberry Bar: For a number of reasons, seitenbacher is generally a good choice for your wellbeing. Their products contain no gluten, GMO soy or anything a vegetarian would have a problem with, and they tend to use simple and natural ingredients. However, you need to steer clear of the banana cranberry option for one glaring reason: it contains 32g of sugar. This is the equivalent of eight teaspoons of the sweet stuff, but with only half the fibre and one-third the protein of a chocolate bar.

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