YONKERS, N.Y. — Whole foods like nuts and dried fruit not only provide a nutritional boost to energy bars. They also lead to better taste, according to an analysis of 33 bars by Consumer Reports.
Kind Plus Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants With Macadamia Nuts received the highest taste score. Bars with whole foods like nuts and dried fruit as their main sources of protein and fiber received higher nutrition scores than those with added protein from soy isolates, rice or peas or with added fiber from chicory root or corn.
“Adding these ingredients can make a bar seem healthy, but they are highly processed,” said Ellen Klosz, a nutritionist for Consumer Reports. “It’s better to get your nutrients from whole food ingredients because they also supply a variety of vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds.”
Six of the 33 bars received a “very good” rating for nutrition. The highest ranked had few, if any, added sugars. A nutritious energy bar should have 150 to 200 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 to 6 grams of protein, according to Consumer Reports.
Added sugars may come in the form of agave syrup, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose syrup, honey and tapioca syrup.
“Though some of these may sound better for you than plain old sugar, they’re all added sugars and should be kept to a minimum in your diet,” Ms. Klosz said. “Better to chose a bar that has only fruit, or if it has added sugars, they’re toward the end of the ingredients list.”
An article on energy bars will appear in the October issue of Consumer Reports magazine.