by Alison Brinker, RD, LD
Granola bars can be tricky. Some are good and others not so good. The bars can be a very convenient, on-the-go snack, but following a few guidelines will ensure that it isn’t just convenient, but healthy too.
Look for the first ingredient to be whole grain oats or some other whole grain (wheat, barley, brown rice, quinoa). This will indicate the bar is a good source of fiber and other nutrients. When a product is made with the whole grain it contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants too.
Also watch for too much sugar. When sugar is listed as one of the first few ingredients the bar will be higher in calories and may be lower in nutrients.
Limit the bars with coatings. You are pretty much guaranteed a higher calorie content if the bar is coated with chocolate or yogurt. A bar with an icing drizzle won’t be quite as high in calories, but a bar with no drizzle is best.
Chocolate chunks are a tempting ingredient, but consider bars that are flavored with nutrient-rich dried fruit, nuts and seeds as an alternative to chocolate.
Some numbers to look for per serving:
Total carbohydrate: 15-20 grams, less than 10 grams of sugar
Fiber: 3 grams or more
Protein: 3 grams or more
Total fat: 3 grams or less—this may be a little higher if the bar is made with nuts and seeds which are a healthy source of fat so it will still be a good choice.
Saturated fat: 2 grams or less
Avoid any bars with hydrogenated oil or palm oil listed in the ingredient list
Enjoy your quick AND healthy snack!