Nutrition bar vs. candy bar: Not much difference

Nutrition bar vs. candy bar: Not much difference

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed at the sight of the latest nutrition bar selection at your local grocer, you are certainly not alone. From bars that claim to boost your energy to those that advertise they can help you to fight hunger and to lose weight, selecting the right bar can be overwhelming for even the savviest foodie.

Nutrition experts say when it comes to nutrition bars, the key is learning to separate fact from fiction—remembering not to let the fancy packaging fool you.

Ingredient Overload
Some nutrition bars are highly processed and have a laundry list of hodgepodge synthetic  ingredients and chemicals.

Leah Woock, registered dietitian at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says there are some key things you can look for:

  • Opt for nutrition bars that list whole grain or whole wheat products as one of the first three ingredients.
  • Try to avoid bars that list sugar, fructose or syrup in the beginning of the ingredient list.
  • Stay away from bars that include hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil, which is code for trans fat.
  • A high fiber content may be too good to be true, as it most likely contains additives like inulin or chicory root in place of fiber.
  • If the bar has a high protein count, make sure it’s from a good source like whole soy foods rather than from a soy protein isolate.

Woock says there are some nutrition bars that contain as much sugar as candy bars. Take a Kit Kat bar for example, which has 21 grams of sugar (about 5 teaspoons). There are actually some nutrition bars that contain that amount of sugar.

“Because these bars are so easy to grab and eat, they have become a convenient snack for many,” says Woock. “But with preparation, you can pack some healthy options to go that are much better for your health.

Here a few options to add to your grocery list:

  1.  A small handful of nuts or trail mix
  2. Apple with a  low-fat cheese stick
  3. Carrots with hummus
  4. Small whole-grain granola bar
  5. Peanut butter sandwich

Woock says it’s easy to follow a healthy diet, as long as you make good choices and know what to look for.

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  1. Really didn’t want to hear this news….oh well

  2. Jessika Castillo August 28, 2014 at 10:39 am · Reply

    If anyone is dead set on eating bar shaped food, granola bars are very simple to make at home, and you decide what goes in!

  3. Some of those bars always did seem too good to be true!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.