prevention

What is a Heart Healthy Bar?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro September 30, 2012
  • It seems like we a constantly on the go, which makes quick and easy snacks a regular part of our daily routine. This is why bars are so popular; however, I don’t want you to assume a granola bar is automatically a heart healthy choice. Let’s cover what you need to look at when selecting a bar in a little more detail.

     

    Carbohydrates

     

    The high carb bars were originally intended for endurance athletes that require high energy food (i.e. high calorie food) to support there high levels of activity. This is not what you need to make it through everyday activities. Look for a bar that provides 40% or less of it’s calories from carbohydrates.

     

    Protein

     

    Find a bar that providers between 15 to 20 grams of protein per bar. Soy is frequently used as a protein source in bars. Due to the potential negative side effects of a diet high in soy, I encourage you to look for a bar that does not include soy. Instead, look for bars that utilize whey as the primary protein source.

     

    Fat

     

    Be sure to select bars that contain no trans fats. If a label says “Zero Trans Fat” still double check the ingredient list. If is has the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list then the bar does contain some trans fats.

     

    Fiber

     

    Select a bar with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber.

     

    Sugar

     

    If a bar contains fruit the sugar listed on the food label is going to be high due to the natural sugars found in the fruit. What you want to avoid is a bar high in added sugars. This is difficult to decipher looking at the nutrition fact panel. If the bar does not contain fruit, aim for sugar content to be less than 10 grams. Also, you don’t necessarily want sweetness boosted with artificial sweeteners. Avoid bars that include sucralose or aspartame. Xylitol is the preferred alternative to sugar for adding sweetness.

     

    Calories

     

    Select a bar with 200 or fewer calories per bar.

     

    What you snack on impacts your heart health just as much as your meal choices. . .if not more. If you must go longer than 6 hours between meals, be sure to have some heart healthy snack options on hand.

     

    Go to http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com to access the free ecourse “How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps”.