Granola bars are popular snacks due to their convenience and portability. Whether you are traveling, hiking or simply looking for a quick bite, granola bars come in handy when hunger strikes. They are easy to grab when you are rushing out of the door in the morning or when you have no time to prepare breakfast.
With so many choices available, choosing healthy granola bars can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Most of them are nothing more than candy bars in disguise.
By reading nutrition labels carefully, you can find healthier granola bars. Pay attention to the ingredient list and nutrition facts. Here’s what to look out for…
1. Simple, whole food ingredients such as oat, quinoa, fruits, nuts and seeds. Preferably raw and organic.
2. Zero: hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy protein, artificial sweeteners, preservatives.
3. Bonus ingredients:
– functional food (such as coconut oil, cinnamon),
– superfoods (raw cacao, maca, goji berries, chia seeds),
– greens (spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass)
1. Fiber and protein
Look for granola bars with high fiber and protein content. Both macronutrients help to stabilise blood sugar and keep you feeling full for longer period of time.
Look for low saturated fat and zero trans fat.
Don’t be afraid of fats from healthy sources such as coconut oil, seeds, nuts and nut butter. They suppress appetite and enhance satiety by increasing appetite-curbing hormone and delaying gastric emptying (emptying of food from the stomach to intestines).
Fats also slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, thereby regulating insulin and blood sugar levels so you are less likely to feel hungry.
3. Sugar and sugar alcohols
Sugar and/or sugar alcohols content is listed as part of total carbs.
The less sugar, the better.
Sugar alcohol is a sugar substitute used to sweeten low carb granola bars. It is poorly digested and absorbed in the digestive tract, so have minimal impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. Another advantage of sugar alcohol is that it is virtually calorie free.
Sugar alcohol is fermented by our colonic/gut bacteria. This can cause gas, bloating and abdominal pain. In small amounts, sugar alcohol should not be a problem.
If you are sensitive to sugar alcohol, you may want to avoid it completely. Check the ingredient list for sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol and maltitol.
As a snack: 100-200 calories
As a meal replacement: up to 300 calories