Health Approach
Are Granola Bars Good For You?

Are Granola Bars Good For You?

Many people regard granola bar as a convenient and healthy snack and appreciate its taste and versatility. In some cases, granola bar can be a good source of fiber and protein to help curb appetite between meals. However, some contain as much sugar, carbohydrates, and calories as chocolate bars. This article will look at the pros and cons of cereal bars and explains whether they are good for us.

The Nutritional Value of Granola Bar

Granola bars are made with ingredients such as oats, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, honey, coconut and chocolate chips. The nutritional value of granola bar can vary greatly depending on the brand and the ingredients used. While many varieties are full of extra sugar and calories, there are several healthier options as well. Most cereal bars have around 100-300 calories, 1-10 grams of protein, and 1-7 grams of fiber in a single serving. Many also contain micronutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron, which are found in ingredients or added via fortification during manufacturing.

In Brief, the nutritional value of cereal bars varies widely and some brands may have more calories, protein, fiber and sugar than others.

The Potential Benefits

Granola bars are not only practical, inexpensive and handy, but also packaged in proportionate size, making it easier to avoid consuming too much.  In fact, some studies suggest that preportioned foods can be helpful when it comes to weight management. For example, a 12-week study of 183 individuals found that following a meal plan that involved the consumption of preportioned foods led to greater weight and fat reduction than a standard self-selected diet.

Not to mention, granola bar that contain healthy ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit can be a beneficial addition to any diet. Oats in particular are a major source of beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can help reduce total levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease. Meanwhile, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit have been shown to be beneficial for blood sugar control and heart health.

In Brief, granola bars are practical and pre-spread, which can be helpful for weight control. They are also often made with oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, which can improve heart health and blood sugar control.

The Potential Drawback

Granola bars are often considered a healthy snack, but despite these marketing claims, many are high in added sugar, calories, and artificial ingredients. For example, Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Harvest granola bars can contain up to 15 grams of sugar per serving, mostly from added sugar. This equates to almost 4 tsp. For reference, the latest dietary guidelines for Americans recommend limiting daily calories from added sugar to 10% of total calories or 12 teaspoons per day for a person on a 2,000-calorie diet. Studies show that excess added sugar can increase the risk of several chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

While some granola bars choose to use sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners to reduce their sugar content, these have also been linked to health problems. For example, sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol are not completely broken down in the body and can cause digestive problems in people sensitive to their effects. Other known artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin are approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In any case, research still suggests that they can interfere with blood sugar control and could negatively affect beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, many granola bars are highly processed and include ingredients such as added sugar, vegetable oils, preservatives, and artificial flavors. Studies show that high consumption of processed and sugary foods can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions that can lead to diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

In Brief, granola bars are often heavily processed and contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols, which can have a negative impact on health.

How To Choose A Healthy Granola Bar

When choosing a granola bar, it is important to check the ingredient label carefully and choose products made primarily from real foods, such as fruits, nuts and grains. Also, look for a product with less than 10 grams of sugar, at least 5 grams of protein, and at least 3 grams of fiber to help you feel full between meals. As a rule, avoid cereal bars that contain sugar or other sweeteners in the first three ingredients. Note that the ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. Also, choose products with limited ingredient lists. If you’re keeping an eye on your weight, look at the calorie content and stick to bars with less than 250 calories per serving.

Alternatively, you can choose to make your own granola bars using a few simple ingredients. Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups (312 grams) of oats
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
  • 1 cup (220 grams) of packed dates
  • 1/4–1/2 cup (65–130 grams) of nut butter
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of maple syrup or honey (optional)
  • mix-ins, such as dried fruit, coconut flakes, or chocolate chips

It is advisable to pulse the dates in a food processor for at least one minute and heat the nut butter and maple syrup or honey in a saucepan before adding them to the mixture. Then mix the ingredients, pour the mixture into a lined pan or a loaf pan and leave to rest in the freezer for 20-25 minutes. After it set, cut into portion, serve and enjoy.

In Brief, healthy cereal bars should contain a good amount of protein and fiber with some added sugar and fewer calories. They are also easy to make at home and only require a few simple ingredients.The Bottom Line is granola bars are a convenient, tasty and portable snack. However, many prepackaged varieties are high in sugars, calories, and ingredients that can harm your health. Studying ingredient lists carefully or choosing to make your own granola bars will ensure that your snacks are nutritious and beneficial for you to consume.

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