Are Granola Bars Really Healthy?

 

Convenience foods, like granola bars, are one of the healthier options for many people who want to avoid unhealthy fare like French fries, chips or donuts.   Granola bars may seem healthy, but I have conducted an assessment of five common granola brands and was disappointed to find some “un” healthy ingredients in many brands.

 

There are four  ingredients to watch out for when selecting a granola bar: 

 

1.   Sugar.  There is often a lot of refined sugar or sucrose in granola bars to make them taste good.  Bars sweetened with fruit, honey or evaporated cane juice are better than sucrose.

2.   Artificial flavours.  The phrase “natural flavours” could actually refer to monosodium glutamate – a flavouring that many people do not tolerate well.

3.   Refined grains.  Many granola bars contain white flour – a nutrient deficient food.  Often there are some whole grains with a higher content of refined grains.

4.   Bad fat.  The ingredient list will state the source of the fats.  Look for whole foods as sources of fat, such as flax seed, pumpkin seeds and almonds, rather than oils such as canola and sunflower.

 

Many granola bars have very appealing packaging and bear the words “Healthy” or “Nature” in the brand name.  The savvy shopper should read the Nutrition Facts and the Ingredient list to determine whether the bars live up to the marketing.