The seemingly endless options of granola bars can be overwhelming. Most granola bars are just camouflaged candy bars. Don’t be fooled by crafty marketing. They are full of sugar, saturated fats, and lacking important nutrients. So, what are the healthiest granola bars and how do you identify them?
Taking just a few minutes to read the nutrition facts can help make your healthy decision even better.
Fiber for digestion
According to The Journal of Nutrition, only 3% of Americans are getting the proper amount of daily fiber. In our previous post The Health Benefits of Granola In Your Breakfast, we mentioned that fiber helps aid in digestion. With nearly all Americans falling short of their daily intake, eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help increase fiber intake. The healthiest granola bars contain at least 5 grams of dietary fiber.
Say no to added sugars
For most products, the amount of “sugars” listed on the nutrition facts labels don’t distinguish between sugars from whole ingredients and added sugars. That’s going to change, but for now, calling out added sugar on a label is voluntary. If you are reading the ingredients and are finding a lot of words like glucose, fructose, and sucrose these are all variations on added sugars. Even with sugars sourced from natural whole foods, like 100% fruit juices, it is important to remember that the healthiest granola bars contain less than 7g of sugar.
We love protein! Protein is so incredibly important for our bodies. Unfortunately, most snack foods are lacking an adequate amount of protein. Protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. So how much protein intake do we need in a day? According to The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake), 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound is sufficient.
This amounts to:
56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
This number can change depending upon activity level, age, muscle mass, and more. The healthiest granola bars contain a minimum of 5g of protein/serving.
The less processed the better!
So, you’ve been looking at the nutrition label and ingredients. Are you finding the ingredients hard to pronounce, or the list of ingredients long? This means that the granola bar is more processed. The healthiest granola bars have more whole food ingredients, like whole grains, nuts, and seeds at the top of the ingredients list. Also, remember that the fewer ingredients listed, the better.
The Bottom Line
Finding the healthiest granola bar in the grocery store is easy if you remember these simple rules:
Two Highs, Two Lows.
- High in fiber
- High in protein
- Low in added sugars
- Fewer ingredients
Reading the granola bar labels at the grocery store takes just a few extra minutes, but is so healthfully rewarding. Living on-the-go doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a healthy diet for convenience. Making a healthy choice for yourself on-the-go is a great way to maintain your energy and momentum in an already busy life.