Granola bars: healthy snacks made with real ingredients or decadent desserts filled with sugar, salt and fat? It all depends on how you choose. After reviewing dozens of granola bars, we’ve learned some things that should come in handy before you buy your next box.
-Bars with a chocolatey coating or yogurt drizzle are higher in sugar and fat, so none of them made our list. Let’s face it: These are candy bars, not granola bars!
-Fruit-flavoured bars often contain more sugar than bars made with chocolate chips. You read that right: Fruit is healthy, but the fruit found in bars is often concentrated jam or dried fruit that is pumped full of sugar. The takeaway? A few chocolate chips can still be part of a healthy snack!
-Some low-sugar granola bars are made with sugar substitutes, such as sorbitol, to keep them sweet. We’ve noted this in case you’re avoiding artificially sweetened products for your kids.
-Most granola bars are a source of fibre (two grams on average), but it’s usually not just from oats; many brands list inulin and chicory root fibre as ingredients. These types of non-digestible prebiotic fibres are added to bump up the fibre content on the Nutrition Facts label. But take note: These types of fibre don’t help promote regularity or fight constipation. They are prebiotic, which means that they are the “food” that healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut thrive on. That’s good, but it won’t help your kids poop.
-Sometimes ingredient lists are needlessly long. Granola bars don’t require much more than oats, honey and some type of oil, but many are filled with artificial flavours, preservatives, gums, thickeners and sweeteners.
Store shelves are loaded with granola bars, so how did we judge them? The bars that made our list are:
-made with real ingredients (whole grains, nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit, with exceptions noted);
-have six grams of sugar or less (six grams of sugar equals 1.5 teaspoons);
-have as much fibre as possible (most bars have two grams of fibre, but one tops the list with eight grams); and
-have no more than 95 milligrams of sodium per bar
Nature Valley Lunch Box Granola Bars Chewy Chocolate Chip (nut-free)
These sweet bars boast five grams of fibre (mostly from inulin), which makes them the second-highest fibre bar on our list. Though the ingredient list is unnecessarily long, with lots of types of sugar, the overall sugar content remains low (just four grams!).
What kids will like: These are your standard, kid-friendly granola bars. They also come in Very Berry flavour, with just six grams of sugar per bar.