How Healthy Is Your 'Healthy' Snack Bar?
How To Rule Out The Good From The Bad
By Nutritionist, Melissa Fine.
It’s 3.30 pm, you’re at work, and that ‘healthy’ low fat muffin (the size of your face) from the local café is calling your name…for the third day in a row. If you’re trying to ditch a food habit that looks like this picture, it can be handy to have a nutritious snack in your pocket or handbag as an alternative. However, not all ‘healthy’ snacks are as healthy as they are made out to be, especially in the case of the average snack bar.
Feeling confused in the snack bar aisle at the supermarket? As a rule of thumb, a good-for-you snack bar will have:
- A short ingredients list – One that takes you more than 10 seconds to read is often a red flag for a highly processed snack bar with artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and sweeteners. Read the ingredients on the back of a protein bar, then compare them to a snack bar made from real food (like a Simply Raw bar) and you’ll see what I mean.
- Ingredients you know, or that you’d keep in the pantry: Ask yourself, if you were making homemade snack bars, would you be adding things like ‘humectant’, ‘maltitol’ and preservative 220?’
- A shelf life of less than a year: A food that can sit on the supermarket shelf for years without going off is unlikely to be made from fresh, natural ingredients. On the other hand, a bar containing only real foods, like raw nuts for instance, will go rancid after several months, because without preservatives the fat content oxidises.
- Natural ingredients: A high quality food bar relies on nothing but things like fruit, protein-rich nuts, coconut flakes, coconut oil, cacao and vanilla for its flavour, texture and moisture. You’ll find ingredients like this in the snack bars by Simply Raw, which you’ll find at any good health food store (Try their ‘Coconut Rough’ flavour and thank me later!).
- Be aware of bars containing vegetable oil (AKA canola, peanut, soybean and cottonseed oil); This is a cheap, mass produced product, abundant in processed foods, yet not as healthy as it sounds for many reasons, one being its high omega-6 content. Although omega-6 is an essential fatty acid, when consumed in a higher ratio to omega-3 (found in oily fish, and in a less bioavailable form in walnuts and flaxseeds) it can be pro-inflammatory. Bars with margarine are no better; A highly processed spread, margarine is comprised of vegetable oils that have undergone ‘hydrogenation’, where they harden and become undesirable trans fats.
- Dried fruit as the only form of sugar: Simply Raw bars do this well; They use dried fruits like juicy Medjool dates, which provide enough natural sweetness, as well as stickiness to hold the bar together. Plus, dried fruit provides fibre and other nutrients, whereas unnecessary sweeteners in other ‘healthy’ bars (like sugar, glucose, honey and evaporated cane juice) offer nothing but empty kilojoules. Also keep in mind that a bar containing refined flours and grains (such as wheat flour and puffed white rice) is really no more nutritious than a piece of cake, and can make your blood sugar quickly rise, then quickly fall, so you’ll be hungry again 20 minutes later.
So in a nutshell, the most nutritious snack bars are often the most simple, and in my opinion, the most delicious! A snack made from nutrient-dense, clean ingredients can nourish and sustain you, so you won’t still want that muffin. Try a snack bar made from real food and see if you notice the difference.
Simply Raw Coconut Rough bars are a nut free chocolate lovers delight! Cacao, Medjool Dates, Lucuma, Coconut Flakes, Coconut Oil & Vanilla Bean. www.simplyraw.com.au
Want to know more about the Simply Raw family?
Driven by the need to meet their families own health requirements due to recurring illnesses that resulted from food intolerances and allergies, husband and wife team Janine Zappini-Rosa and Sebastian Rosa made it their mission to develop pure & healthy snack food alternatives with a focus on quality, flavour and nutrition.
Simply Raw’s products are unique and the flavours will make your tastebuds dance. The range caters for all types of dietary restrictions, from Gluten and Lactose intolerance, to Nut Allergies, are Vegan & Paleo friendly and of course, made with love. The entire product range is 100% Organic, Raw and free from Dairy, Soy, Gluten, Wheat, Refined Sugars, Preservatives and GMO’s. Unlike other food snacks, Simply Raw products are wholesome and will leave you feeling healthy, energised and satisfied. www.simplyraw.com.au