Granola bars are great for snacks between meals as well as a grab-and-go breakfast. According to statistics from Mintel.com, 94 percent of Americans snack at least once a day. Snacking can help boost energy, reduce stress, and manage hunger between meals. Convenience is important when it comes to choosing a snack, so many people prefer ready-to-eat snacks.
Most people think granola bars are healthy because they contain mostly good ingredients like oats, nuts, and seeds; however, they are high in calories and full of added sugar. So, be sure to read the ingredients when choosing a granola bar! Below are our 10 best recommendations of popular granola bars. Our favorite is Kashi's Chewy Granola Bars, due to its high fiber content, low calories. We've also prepared a buying guide reviewed by a registered dietitian!
Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes is the founder of 360 Girls&Women® LLC. She's a mother and an experienced registered dietitian. Professionally, Sue-Ellen specializes in women's health and diabetes and also does work as a health writer and speaker. She loves exploring the world of healthy nutrition as a recipe developer and often recommends beneficial health products to her clients.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
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Table of Contents
Granola bars are convenient for breakfast and snacks. They suit people who have busy lifestyles. They're also delicious and have many flavor options.
In terms of health, granola bars can improve digestion due to their soluble fiber content. They also tend to contain healthy fats from nuts, which help reduce blood pressure moderate cholesterol levels.
Last but not least, granola bars can help to promote healthier skin. Most contain nuts such as almonds, which are a good source of vitamin E. It's a powerful antioxidant that has anti-aging benefits.
It's obvious that everyone wants a tasty granola bar. But besides the taste, have you ever thought about other things, such as nutrition and ingredient content? Here are some suggestions that might benefit you when it comes to choosing granola bars.
Many assume that granola bars are immediately a healthy choice, but one must take careful consideration of their own personal health needs when choosing a bar. Granola bars can be high in calories due to nuts and seeds, have hidden sugars from dried fruit, and more. Let's take a look at what to consider in terms of nutrition.
Balanced nutrition usually means a good mix of macro- and micronutrients, but each person's needs will be different.
No matter what your dietary needs are, I recommend that you aim to keep fat and sugar content low and fiber content high. You can find this information on the label of any granola bar you're interested in buying.
If your goal in getting granola bars is weight loss, the ratios of protein and fiber to carbs and fat must be considered. Higher amounts of protein and fiber will keep you satiated longer, and lower carbs and fat will keep calorie counts low, helping one maintain their weight loss regimen.
Most popular granola bars will typically have two or three grams of protein per bar, and around 23 grams of carbs, but there are options for those who are considering weight loss. Higher protein bars can have between 10 to 16 grams of protein. Carbohydrate levels aren't bad at around 18 grams but can go lower to 14 grams. Some keto bars go as low as four grams!
When looking at fat, the type of fat is good to consider. Experts say unsaturated fat in a granola bar up to five grams is considered healthy, but saturated fat should be only 2.5 grams. High amounts of saturated fat have been shown to lead to CVD (cardiovascular disease).
Many granola bars will have about two grams of fiber per bar, but if you examine your options, you can find bars that contain four to six grams.
Also beneficial to pregnancy is a granola bar low in sugar and made of whole foods. Micronutrients found in whole foods such as pumpkin seeds and almonds are very helpful during pregnancy, being rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Magnesium and calcium are both essential in building strong teeth and bones for your baby, and iron is needed to make more blood in order to supply oxygen to your baby. And deficiencies in all three of these nutrients could lead to preterm labor.
High protein in a granola bar is also great to look for while pregnant, as protein is crucial for a baby's growth.
Diabetic people may want to be mindful of sugar and carb levels in their granola bars. Watching the amounts of these that you consume helps keep your blood sugar within your target ranges, and aids in insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is a hormone within the body that helps move sugar from your blood into your cells for storage, and diabetic folks are insulin resistant. Increasing insulin sensitivity helps your body store sugar correctly and keeps blood sugar levels low. On average, try to keep your blood sugar level at about 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter before a meal, and less than 180 milligrams per deciliter after a meal.
Some granola bars have up to 11 grams of sugar in a single bar. Look for low sugar and low carb options. There are many bars available sweetened with natural sugar-free sweeteners, such as monk fruit sweetener or stevia and these types can contain less than one gram of sugar per serving.
Although still a sugar, granola bars sweetened with agave nectar are great choices for diabetics, too. Agave syrup has a low glycemic index, so it doesn't spike your blood sugar.
Kids and adults alike love things like chocolate and caramel, but one should be mindful of how high the sugar is in each serving. It shouldn't be so high as to have your children on a sugar rush all afternoon. It's recommended that a child's granola bar be under 10 grams of sugar per serving. Low sugar granola bars will give kids a good snack while avoiding a sugar crash.
Although you must consider whether or not the child will eat this granola bar. Children may not be interested in a bar that's just berries, nuts, and seeds. They may see it as too bland.
Try to strike a good balance between tasty and low in sugar. It can be helpful to look for boxes that specifically mention they're for kids. You can have a bar with only a few chocolate chips and still have it reasonably sweet. Some bars will get as low as five grams of sugar per serving.
Natural and minimally processed granola bars are best. In other words, look for bars that contain real food ingredients like whole grains, nuts, seeds, and natural sweeteners like dates, honey, or brown rice syrup. Try to avoid white sugar, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
Whole grains are high in fiber and nutrients, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. But there are many brands that try to attract customers with the words "whole grain" on the package but aren't actually whole grain. Keep in mind that not all whole-grain granola bars are truly whole grain.
You should also consider healthy fats, not only from nuts and seeds but from dark chocolate, coconut, and extra virgin olive oil. These fats can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, lower bad LDL cholesterol levels, and raise good HDL cholesterol.
Simple ingredients and good flavor go hand in hand. Just remember that there's no hard rule for how simple the ingredients need to be.
Fiber is important in a granola bar because of the many roles it plays in your health. Fiber is heart-healthy and many labels claim this as a way to help buyers decide on which bar to buy.
Just be sure to check the fat content of your granola bar in addition to the fiber content, as some fibrous bars may have unhealthy amounts of fat.
In the U.S., 90 percent of soy and corn is derived from GMOs. Besides that, other plants like beet, cane, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and apples also could come from GMOs as well. Sometimes these ingredients are listed in granola bars.
There are debates on what GMOs do to our bodies. Even so, many people choose to avoid GMO products. You can look for the "NON GMO Project" label to identify non-GMO products. Statistics show that 21 percent of granola, snack, and energy bars in the U.S. are now made without GMOs.
Organic bars are a safe choice because they're free from GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and weed-killing chemicals. A study by the American Medical Association shows that people who consume organic food regularly lower the risk of getting cancer by 25 percent.
The use of organic ingredients is also more eco-friendly. The lack of pesticides in ingredient production means less pollution from fertilizer and pesticide runoff and better soil quality.
There are many organic granola bars but the most popular brands seem to be Cascadian Farm, Kashi, MadeGood, Nature's Path, and Health Warrior.
Be wary of a product that states it's organic but doesn't have the official USDA seal. Anyone can call their items organic but the seal makes it official. Very rigorous standards need to be met in order to get the USDA organic seal. I recommend keeping an eye out for this seal when you choose to shop organic.
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Best Low Calorie Bar With High Fiber
Best Whole Food Ingredient Bar
This Saves Lives
Best for Diabetic Individuals
Best for Pregnant Women
Best for Adding More Nutrition to Your Child's Diet
Best Kid's Granola Bar With High Protein and a Candy Bar Taste
Best for Meal Replacement
Bob's Red Mill
Best Soft Granola Bar
Best Whole Grain Granola Bar with Extra Probiotic Nutrition
Best High Carbohydrate Bar for Workout Energy
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars contain good amounts of protein and fiber while maintaining a relatively low amount of calories, 130 per serving. They come in a variety of flavors from chocolate almond sea salt to peanut butter.
Reviewers say they are a satisfyingly tasty option for a weight-loss snack, claiming they are nice and sweet but not overpowering. Some even say their kids love them! However, a few reviewers say they're a bit dry.
These bars are high in protein, fiber and made from simple plant-based ingredients. Containing no artificial ingredients or added protein powders, this bar is nothing but whole food ingredients like whole grain oats, almonds and cranberries.
Although they are wheat-free, you must consider that the oats still may contain traces of gluten, if you're on a gluten-free diet. Reviewers say that they're the best vegan granola bar they have bought, praising the flavor and texture. However, some reviewers say the bars are dry and the flavor is bland.
These bars are non-GMO, gluten-free, and dairy-free and come in a wide range of flavors. They contain low amounts of sugar and high amounts of fiber, making them ideal for diabetics seeking a snack that helps to control their blood sugar levels.
One diabetic reviewer says striking a balance between low sugar and good flavor is tough, but that this granola bar accomplishes it. Reviewers also love being able to donate to charity and buy a snack at the same time, as the company donates to child hunger organizations for each purchase.
These heart-healthy oat bars are whole grain, non-GMO, and come in a wide variety of flavors. They're very high in fiber, making them great for pregnant individuals as pregnancy-induced constipation is a concern for many.
Reviewers who bought these bars love how filling they are and that the high amount of plant sterols from whole grain oats help control LDL cholesterol, which is great during pregnancy as it's normal for your cholesterol to rise. However, some reviewers said the texture was too dry.
MADE GOOD is an organic, vegan granola bar, that is free from nuts, gluten, and GMOs. One outstanding point of this brand is it contains six vegetable extracts, making one bar contain 20 percent of the daily values of vitamin A, C, B6, and E, all of which support a healthy immune system.
They're made in a nut-free facility, which is a benefit to those whose children attend a nut-free school. Reviewers support the claim that these bars are great for people with allergies; however, others say the bars are too sticky and fall apart easily.
These kids' granola bars are low calorie and sugar and high in protein, making them an excellent snack for kids that they won't turn down as they come in exciting candy-like flavors like chocolate mint and cookies and cream.
Reviewers like the soft, cookie-like texture and say their children love the flavors. They say that they are a convenient, nutritious, and organic option for their kids. However, a few reviewers say they are too sweet for their tastes.
These granola bars are designed to satisfy your stomach and give you lasting energy, whether they're a light breakfast or a hiking snack. They feature a tasty combination of fruit and nut butter, either blueberry and almond butter, or cranberry and peanut butter.
Although the bars are small, reviewers say that they are very filling, packed with ingredients like nuts, seeds, and oats, they make a great meal replacement. Reviewers love the great flavor and the option to have either peanut butter or almond butter, as some folks have trouble digesting peanuts.
These oat bars have a good balance of protein, fiber, sugar, and fat while maintaining a pleasant texture and flavor. Coming in flavors like peanut butter banana and peanut butter and jelly, they're advertised as being a throwback to one's childhood.
Many reviewers have claimed these taste like an oat cookie, and that they are a great option for people who need a softer granola bar. They also say they make a great healthy alternative to a candy bar or dessert. However, some reviewers say they're priced too high.
These whole grain, non-GMO granola bars contain probiotic cultures that improve gut health, heart health, lower cholesterol, and more, just like yogurt. They are also rich in whole grains, providing over half of an adult's daily intake.
Many reviewers loved the probiotic content and ate them instead of their morning yogurt, or alongside their yogurt for extra probiotics. Reviewers also love the flavor and the chewy texture. However, some reviews claim the bars taste stale.
Bobo's Oat Bars are rich in heart-healthy oats and a great option for those who expend a lot of energy. Being high in complex carbohydrates from oats, they make a great grab-and-go bar when exercising intensely.
Reviewers supplement this claim by saying that they are a favorite for workout energy, and keep them full and energized through active days. Many reviewers also love the gluten-free oats and vegan ingredients. Although, some reviewers felt deceived by the serving size being only half a bar.
One of the most common concerns about granola bars is if they're actually a healthy option. Check out our answer below!
Although granola bars are advertised as being a healthy option, many wonder if this is indeed true. The claim that granola bars are healthy depends entirely on the bar you choose. A granola bar is not inherently good for you.
Try to keep the protein levels at five to 10 grams per bar, the fiber at four to six grams per bar, and the sugar at about 10 grams or lower. A granola bar should contain no more than 2.5 grams of saturated fat, and carbs should be around 23 grams or lower. This is a very balanced nutrient amount.
If care is put into reading the ingredients, checking for high amounts of protein and fiber, and low amounts of carbs and sugar, granola bars can be a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. Being mindful of the calories is a good idea, too! It's recommended to keep it under 250 calories per bar.
Snacking can provide many benefits if you limit your portion sizes and choose healthy ones. Check out our suggestions for other snacks!
If you'd like some more inspiration and ideas for your granola bar shopping, check out Amazon's best-selling list of granola and nutrition bars.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
The descriptions of each product are referenced from content available on manufacturer, brand, and e-commerce sites.
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