Are granola bars good for you?
Granola bars. Quick and easy for breakfast or a snack but are they actually good for you?
And that completely depends. Sometimes quick and easy does not translate to healthy and nutritious. When deciding which ones are good for you and your family and which ones are not, consider the following.
First, let’s start with the benefits. For busy parents, tossing a granola bar to your kid on the way out the door after a mad rush to get ready in the morning is so convenient. Save the three-course leisurely breakfasts for mornings when you didn’t sleep in, forget to switch the laundry and the dog didn’t track in mud all over your kitchen floor.
Everyone likes them. Kids can be picky and I have yet to find one that won’t eat a granola bar. As breakfast or a snack, kids, literally and figuratively, eat them up.
Unlike fruits and veggies, the shelf life is much longer. It is easy to keep a couple in your car for those busy mornings or as you are rushing between soccer practice and your kid needs a snack fast.
Start with the label
When looking for healthier options, it’s important to first start with the label. Read the nutrition facts closely and consider these ingredients below for the ones to avoid and the ones to embrace.
What to avoid
Some granola bars are filled with more sugar than even some candy. A regular-sized candy bar can have up to 50 grams of sugar. Look for bars that have 9 grams of sugar or less.
Most bars are on the small side so when you are looking at calories, limit them to 300 or less. You can even find some with calories as low as 90.
We need to consume fat in our foods but try avoiding no more than 8 grams of fat per serving in your bars.
Add in preservatives and you have yourself a high carb and high-calorie snack. Keep in mind that sometimes when food is advertised as “preservative-free,” that could mean it is loaded with other natural but unhealthy ingredients like sodium, sugar, and fats and oils.
Fortunately, there are more options than ones filled with sugar, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup.
What to look for
Easy to read ingredients
A good rule when choosing what foods to put in your body is to ask yourself “Can I read every ingredient on this list?” If so, you are probably on the right track. Of course, one may find the word “Pyridoxine” hard to read but it is just another name for Vitamin B6.
For the healthiest options, make sure the first ingredient is a whole grain like oats, barley, legumes, or bran. Raisins, seeds, and nuts are also nutritious.
Fiber and protein
Granola bars can be an excellent source of fiber and protein so the higher the grams, the healthier the choice. To keep you fuller longer, make sure your bars have 6 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein per serving.
Not all bars have probiotics and it’s not a necessary ingredient. It does make it a healthier choice for your gut though. And who doesn’t want a healthier one?
Gluten-free. If you follow a gluten-free diet, there are plenty of options available.
Are granola bars healthy for you? The answer is: yes and no. Let the label (and this post) be your guide. Consider all of your ingredients as a whole and pay special attention to that sugar intake.
Story by David Van Der Ede