Our top 7 snack bars
Snack bars such as muesli, nut, fruit and cereal bars can be an easy and healthy snack option for lunch boxes, before and after sport, and between activities. Snack bars fill the supermarket aisles and can range from nutritious varieties containing whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, to something that looks ‘healthy’ but is really a chocolate bar or cake.
If they’re made with nutrient rich ingredients, snack bars can provide kids with a nutritious boost of energy to keep them going between meals. We’ve assessed a whole range of snack bars against our Better Choice criteria, which help to identify nutritious foods that kids can enjoy eating while being in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
How did we come up with the list?
We tried to find bars that were:
- 600kJ per serve or less;
- low in saturated fat (less than or equal to 2g/100g);
- with a good amount of fibre in them (more than 6g/100g); and
- contained lots of whole grains, nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit.
We skipped all the ones containing confectionery such as chocolate chips or yoghurt coatings (which was a LOT)! We didn’t look specifically at the sugar content in nutrition information panels because it doesn’t tell you how much sugar is from added sugar and how much is coming from grains and dried fruit. In this case, looking at the ingredients list is a better way to check for added sugars.
Snack bars generally include more sugar if:
- the sugar ingredients are the beginning of the ingredients list and/or
- there are lots of different sugar ingredients such as glucose syrup, honey, invert sugar, brown rice syrup, molasses, raw sugar.
The top 7 snack bars
1. Carman’s Almond, Hazelnut & Vanilla nut bars, 35g (4.5★)
High in protein and good fats with nearly 70% nuts and seeds and 5g of sugar per serve.
2. Go Natural Almond, Cranberry & Pepita Nut Delight, 35g (4.5★)
A bar with plenty of nuts, seeds and some dried fruit with 6g of sugar per serve.
3. Sanitarium Naturally Nood Apple Rumble bar, 35g (4.5★)
A simple mix of oats, dried fruit and nuts with a small amount of apple juice to sweeten it.
4. Artisse Organic Aribar – Apple, Raisins & Oats, 22g; and Raspberry, Apple & Oats, 22g (4★)
These are mostly oats and dried fruit with no added nuts or sugar.
5. Be Natural Trail Bar – Sultanas, Dates, Almonds & Peanuts, 32g (4★)
A good mix of whole gran cereals, dried fruit and nuts. There are quite a few different sources of sugar but they are lower down the ingredients list and around 6g per serve, some coming from the dates and sultanas.
6. Emma and Tom’s Life Bars – Fig & Lemon with Chia, 40g; and Cherry and Goji, 40g
A bigger bar made from just dried fruit and raw nuts with no added sugar. We don’t know the star rating but estimate it at around 4★.
7. Uncle Tobys Farmers Pick – Roasted Macadamia & Almond bar, 32g (4★)
A mix of oats, seeds and nuts with 4g of sugar per serve. We think the Fig & Apricot variety is also a good choice (32g, 4★).
Because snack bars are constantly changing as new flavours are introduced (or discontinued), use these tips when shopping for snack bars.
- Walk right past any with chocolate or yoghurt coatings.
- Look for a 35g serve or less and share larger bars.
- Check the ingredients list and look for ones with the highest amount of whole grain cereals like oats or brown rice, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and veggies, and the smallest number of sugar-containing ingredients.
- Look for a Health Star Rating of four (4★) or higher.
Blog written by JD May 2016