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What is a healthy purchased "bar" snack?

Our Whole Foods has about 4,000 bar snacks (Cliff, Lara, KIND) so I get this is a a popular snack category. Why? And are they healthy? Do they actually make a reasonable snack for a five year old?

We ate granola bars on occasion and I occasionally buy these: http://www.amazon.com/Kashi-Granola-C... but Kashi has lost my business over stinky behavior over GMOs and California ballot proposal to force GMO labeling.

So, are they healthy and as what and if so what kind?

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  1. I eat peanut larabars on the days when work feeds me pizza or subway or other white cheesy goo, because they have a decent amount of fibre, are easier to eat than those revolting fibre cubes and are easier to store than avocados! They have more sugar than I'd like but they serve a purpose. I would say it would be quite a hefty snack for a 5 year old.

    1. i eat KIND bars, which i really like. in general, i'd think a 5 year old is just as well off with a granola bar (nature valley?) or something, which is typically cheaper, and i'd check the ingredient list on any snack/protein/meal replacement/etc bar of the more health-foodish bent. keep an eye out especially for brown rice syrup, which has been found to be high in arsenic (even before the latest rice and arsenic kerfuffle) and might not be so great for a wee one.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chartreauxx

        I like the Kind bars as well. Not a lot of filler, mostly fruit and nuts.

      2. "Are they healthy?"

        Everyone defines what they view as healthy differently and every ingredient has the potential to be healthy or unhealthy, depending on context of the consumer and the situation. Define your personal "healthy" and it'd be easier to make recommendations.

        Again, "Why [are they popular]?" No one answer. Convenient, tasty, health halo, portability, indulgent taste yet more nutrients than a candy bar, etc. Obviously all of these don't apply to each and every item in the category. There are as many views/reasons as there are consumers basically. I'd say the connotations with healthfulness have been a big reason for the growth of the category in recent years, but certainly not the only one.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Tovflu

          To be more clear, do you consider them to be healthy and why? Most brands seem to have a reasonable, easy to understand natural ingredient list but don't seem to have a lot of fiber and have a lot of sugar.

          1. re: JudiAU

            Why is lots of sugar a problem?

            An apple has lots of sugar, does that make it somehow not healthy, or less healthy?

            I don't mean to pick a fight, am just curious why people equate sugar (added or natural) with somehow as being "not healthy".

            1. re: ipsedixit

              there is a big difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. in a bar, it would most likely be added.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  google it for complete information, but essentially, naturally occurring sugars are balanced by the other components of a food. In apples, for example, there is fiber, vitamins, etc...whereas added sugar is not balanced by more healthy elements. Usually just more sugar.

                  1. re: noya

                    That makes no sense. If we are comparing sucrose from refined sugar to sucrose in sweet potatoes or nuts, then it's the same molecule or molecules.

                    And some of those supposed "added sugars" are from fruit juice or cane or beets.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      We're not comparing sucrose to sucrose. We're comparing dried fruit to sucrose

                2. re: noya

                  Just chiming in to agree with ipsedixit. Yes, the sugar in an apple is balance by the other components, but that is no different than the sugar many of the bars being balanced by it's other components. Your concerns are overblown. It's the same kind of thinking that leads to conversations like: "Don't eat fruit!" "Why?" "Because it's full of sugar!" Newsflash: Sugar is not inherently evil or bad for you.

                  Your view of "whereas added sugar is not balanced by more healthy elements. Usually just more sugar" is only really applicable to things composed entirely of simple sugars, ex: soda or sugar candies.

                  1. re: Tovflu

                    It is absolutely different when nature puts it together (apple) and a machine puts it together (bar)

                    Agree that sugar is not inherently bad.

                    I challenge you to read the ingredient of most bars. You will find sugar in many forms, listed as different ingredients that most people aren't able to identify.

                    I'm not sure you properly understood my concerns, and therefore have misunderstood them to be overblown. Not clear where your idea came from. Doesn't really matter.

                    Ultimately, an apple is a much better snack than most any bar.

                    1. re: noya

                      I'm very well aware of what each ingredient is (and by the names "most people aren't able to identify").

                      Lets just agree to disagree (or agree to misunderstand one another, whichever it may be) on many points.

                      I will certainly agree that an apple is generally a better snack than most bars on the market, for many reasons.

                  2. re: noya

                    Lara Bars are high in naturally occurring sugar-- most are made with dates.

                    1. re: noya

                      There's no difference, except that fructose is more likely to promote insulin resistance. Sugar is sugar to your pancreas and other cells. The fact that it's attached to other naturally occurring nutrients doesn't offset the impact of the sugar on health.

              1. I don't think any of the bars are good--they're all processed, most have added sugar, and they've been sitting on a shelf for an unknown amount of time. That said, if your child insists, the KIND bars may be the best. They have the most whole ingredients, and some varieties are less sugary than most bars. Nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, etc...would be a much better choice

                2 Replies
                1. re: noya

                  sorry, but since when can't a 5-year-old be told "no" about a treat?

                  other than a bit of fiber from the crap gmo grains,few offer any more of a healthy option than a candy bar.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I'm not sure that's the case--there are some made with whole nuts, and some have no GMOs.

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