A Nutritionist Dishes: How to Find the Perfect Healthy Snack

We have a confession to make….when we see a new “healthy” snack option, we just gotta try it.  But, with all the maca, acai, jackfruit, hemp milk, hair of the goat (ok we made the last on up) superfoods out there, how do you know a snack is truly promoting your well being?

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We partnered with Perfect Bar and Registered Dietitian, Sydney Spoon to dig into health hype vs. health happiness.

What is Perfect Bar?

  • Made in a certified organic kitchen in California
  • Kosher
  • Oregon Tilth Certified Organic
  • Non-GMO, gluten-free, and plenty of protein
  • 20+ superfoods

Additionally, the bars are stored in the refrigerator because there are no preservatives other than organic honey. Perfect Bars contains:

  • No artificial ingredients, preservatives or emulsifers
  • Most bars are soy free and utilize nonfat milk powder or dried egg, coupled with tree nuts for a punch of protein.

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Our personal favorite is the Almond Coconut (vegan) bar with organic dates, almond butter, cocoa powder and super foods like kale, spinach, flax seed and alfalfa.  Not sure how they pack all those in there but the texture is superb with flaky coconut pieces and touches of dried chewy cranberries.

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Coconut not your thing?  There are plenty other choices (vegetarian):

  • Nutty bars: Peanut Butter, Carob Chip, and Almond Butter
  • Fruity light bars: Cranberry Crunch and Almond Acai
  • Mixed:  Fruit & Nut
  • For calorie counters, you can try the Perfect Bar minis

One thing to note, the whey protein and egg have a distinct taste so it may or may not be something you embrace.  We suggest trying several bars to see which one tickles your tongue fancy.

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How to read nutrition label:

Now on to the health investigation.  What should we be looking for in a nutrition bar?  Sydney Spoon* reports.

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1. What are some sneaky ingredients to watch out for or avoid when choosing a bar?

  • Trans fat (aka the “bad” form of fat) should be avoided. Legally, food companies are allowed to put 0g trans fat on the label if there is less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving in the product.  Although 0.5g is a small amount, it is best to avoid completely especially when food products have more than one serving in the package.  In order to find out if the food product contains trans fat, read the ingredients list!  Look for the word “hydrogenated.”  Usually, it will be listed as “partially hydrogenated oils”, “fully hydrogenated oils”, or “fractionated oils.”  Hydrogenation is the chemical reaction where hydrogen ions are added to unsaturated fats (healthy fats) resulting in saturated fats (unhealthy fats).
  • Corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup or any other forms of added sugar should be limited as well when choosing a bar.  If sugar is present in a bar, it should be listed towards the very end of the ingredients list because ingredients list are read from highest concentration to lowest concentration in relation to the food product.  
  • Other ingredients to avoid or at least limit include chemical preservatives, artificial flavors and colorings.

2. Is there a health-o-meter for nutrition bars?  How much or little sugar, fat, fiber, protein is ideal?

There is no calculated way to determine whether a nutrition bar is truly better or worse than the one right next to it.  However, that is when our judgement call is there for us to choose the better option.  It all depends on what you are looking for in a nutrition bar — would you prefer a low calorie snack, post-workout protein bar, or a meal replacement?

I believe all nutrition bars should have some protein to complement the fat and carbohydrates in the bar to create a balanced snack.  One serving of fat, carbohydrates, and protein equals 5g, 15g, and 7g, respectively.  Nutrition bars ideally should have at least one serving of protein.  Although, the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein grams should all depend on an individuals needs.

3. When is a nutrition bar a snack and when does it become a meal?  What role does the calorie count play?

Again, it depends on the individual needs.  Typically, a bar with 15-30g of carbohydrates would be considered a snack.  Anything over would be closer to a meal.

4. How much fat is healthy?  Are there certain types of fat people should seek out?

There are healthy fats, but even though they are healthy they can be over-consumed.  Reading the nutrition label and ingredients list will help to determine wether the food product contains more healthy or unhealthy fats.  Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats should be consumed over saturated fats.  Fats from nuts and seeds, avocados, and certain oils (olive, canola) have more unsaturated fats.

5. How can nutrition bars fit into a healthy lifestyle alongside whole foods?

Nutrition bars are an easy way to eat food on the go and for convenience purposes.  However, it is always best to choose fresh foods over packaged foods.  There are ways to fit nutrition bars into a healthy lifestyle.

Some days making breakfast is next to impossible so it would be much better to grab a nutrition bar instead of skipping breakfast entirely.  My favorite bar is the Perfect Bar because there is no preservatives and it is packed with nutrients including a balance of carbs, fat and protein for a well-rounded snack/small meal.  Try Chiorganicgirls’ recipe, the Blueberry Peanut Butter Parfait (see Instagram post for details).

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THANKS Sydney for the easy to digest info!  Wanna feel perfectly healthful trying a Perfect Bar?  They are available at Whole Foods, Mariano’s, Krogers and more.  Check the refrigerated section at a store near you!

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*Sydney C. Spoon is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Licensed Dietitian, and a Clinical Dietitian.  Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition Sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Sydney is currently furthering her education by working towards her Master of Science degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology.  Maintaining a high quality of life is what Sydney strives for, not only for herself, but for her patients as well.  She loves to promote a healthy lifestyle and believes consuming food that tastes delicious while making you feel good is the perfect approach to living a well-balanced healthy life.

 

**We were not compensated for our opinions but were given Perfect Bars to sample. Our views are our own.*

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