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Granola Bars

Saturday, 3 January 2009 | Tags: ,

Convenient and portable snacks or breakfast on the go, granola bars are typically made from rolled oats, a sweetener like honey, sugar, or corn syrup, and often contain nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and other whole grains. We find out how different brands measure up in taste vs. nutrition.

The Basics

  • Granola bars are labelled as either “chewy” or “crunchy.” The chewy variety is baked less.

  • Good quality granola bars are a nutritious source of fibre and whole grains.

  • Look for bars with at least 5 g of fibre per serving (approximately 12-20% of your daily fibre intake).

  • Granola bars are also often a good source of iron, B vitamins, and protein

  • Bars high in fibre and protein are better for you and keep you feeling full longer because fibre and protein process slower in your body.

  • When comparing prices, check the serving size, overall weight, and number of bars including in each box. Some brands have 5, 6 or 8 bars, so the prices will vary.

Other Considerations

  • Granola bars are often on the shelf next to “cereal bars”, “snack bars”, and “breakfast bars”, which are all more processed. For the healthiest option, make sure you choose granola bars.

  • There a wide variety of organic granola bar brands available.

Be Aware

  • Read the label carefully. Some bars may only contain one whole grain variety, like oats or rice. They are often also full of refined sugars, sodium, preservatives, and even trans fats.

  • Trans fats will appear in the ingredients list as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.”

  • Watch for allergy warnings if you’re sensitive to nuts, soy, strawberries or other items.

TEST CRITERIA

We selected brands of peanut butter granola bars (all of the chewy variety) that market themselves as healthy and tested them for nutrition and taste:

  • Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars (6-pack): $4.39
  • Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Crunchy Nut Sweet & Salty Granola Bars (6-pack): $4.66
  • Nature’s Path Organic Granola Bars (5-pack): $5.49
  • Fibre One Chewy Granola Bars (5-pack) $3.99

Taste vs. Nutrition Test

While all of these bars contain around the same number of calories, there were some pretty big differences when it came to fiber and sugar.

  • Only 10% of our testers chose the Kashi as their favourite. Many people said it was too dry. Unfortunately, the Kashi bars had the least amount of sugar and the highest amount of protein out of all our test products.

  • The Fibre One bar, a favourite of 28%, had the most fibre of all our test products, but it also had the most sugar too.

  • 16% of our testers chose the Nature’s Path as their favorite.

  • The Nutri-grain bar swept 44% of the vote. Unfortunately it also had the most amount of fat and the least amount of fibre.

OUR TOP PICK

The Nutri-grain bar won the day with our testers. However, we feel it’s up to you to choose the bar that’s the most nutritious for your needs, and that also tastes good. Because, let’s face it: if you buy a super nutritious bar but don’t like how it tastes, you probably won’t eat it anyway.

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