Diana Kelly Levey

Fight off Hunger by Snacking on these Low-Sugar Energy Bars

Granola bars sitting on a platter

October 22, 2019 | Categories:

Granola bars have been touted as a “healthy snack” for decades, but if you don’t select yours carefully, you could wind up buying a glorified candy bar. Beyond the chocolate chips that many contain, granola bars often sneak in loads of sugar that’s harder to spot—at least until the FDA’s “added sugar” category appeared on nutrition labels in 2018.

Before you go into panic mode over your sugar intake, it’s important to know the difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Fructose and lactose are naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and milk, whereas added sugars are the sweeteners found in many processed foods like breads, condiments, fruit drinks, and yes, granola bars. (Beware: These sweeteners hide under many different names.) Unlike naturally occurring sugars, the added kind lack vitamins and minerals, providing empty calories that can lead to weight gain. Women should aim for no more than 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar daily, according to the American Heart Association.

Because it’s so tricky to find a legitimately healthy granola bar, we asked Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, to recommend some options that aren’t total added sugar bombs. Here are seven bars you can feel good about stashing in your purse or desk drawer for when hunger strikes.

The Best Low-Sugar Granola Bars and Energy Bars

LUNA Whole Nutrition Bar: LemonZest

“With less than 10 grams of sugar this citrus-flavored granola bar provides a balance of carbs, protein, and fat, making it a healthy option for a post-workout snack,” says Palinski-Wade. It’s made with organic oats and full of vitamins and minerals, including osteoporosis-fighting calcium and vitamin D.

Total sugar: 9 grams

Buy it: Box of 15, $14.24, Amazon.com

KIND Sweet & Spicy Roasted Jalapeño

These crunchy bars are perfect when you’re craving savory rather than sweet, says Palinski-Wade, who works with KIND brands (but we agree that they’re delicious!). Whole almonds, pumpkin seeds, and pea protein pack in 10 grams of protein, and they’re free of dairy, whey, and soy, so they work well for most diets, she says.

Total sugar: 6 grams

Buy it: Box of 4, $4.99, Target.com

This Bar Saves Lives. Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey

Made mostly of nuts and seeds, these bars got a seal of approval from Palinski-Wade because they contain little added sugar and serve up 7 grams of fiber to keep you full long past snack time. They’re also gluten-free and contain 100% non-GMO ingredients. You can feel good buying them, too, because the company sends a packet of food to a child in need for each bar sold.

Total sugar: 6 grams

Buy it: Box of 12, $24.99, ThisBarSavesLives.com

Larabar Blueberry Muffin

“Although these bars may look high in sugar at first glance, the majority of the sugar comes naturally from the dates, which make up one of just six simple ingredients,” says Palinski-Wade. “The healthy fat and fiber from the cashews will help to promote fullness while the blueberries and dates satisfy your sweet tooth.” They’re ridiculously low in sodium (less chance of bloating!) and provide 5 grams of good monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) per bar, which can help reduce belly fat.

Total sugar: 17 grams

Buy it: Box of 16, $15.12, Amazon.com

Kashi Chewy Granola Bars Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt and Granola

The “rolled whole grain blend” listed as the first ingredient in this sweet treat includes good-for-you grains like hard red wheat, oats, rye, and barley. Plus, each bar stars chia seeds, which serve up plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s a good thing because studies suggest omega-3s can fight inflammation, improve your mood, and even protect you from heart disease.

Total sugar: 6 grams

Buy it: Box of 6, $2.99, Amazon.com

Read the full article on Prevention.

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