How often do you eat high-protein or low-carb/calorie bars? Once a day? Several times a day? You might think you’re eating well, but there are some ingredients in many of these bars that nutrition experts say we should avoid.
Consider granola bars. A recent New York Times poll showed 71% of Americans surveyed described granola bars as healthy, but only 28-percent of nutritionists agreed.
“I became a holistic health coach because I suffered from my own digestive and hormonal balance issues. And once I really got into changing my diet and the ways of my lifestyle, i started to heal,” said Jaclyn Renee.
Renee is a grad of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She is a holistic health coach serving Oakland County.
She said – when it comes to nutrition bars – there are 3 top ingredients to avoid.
The first one is “non-organic whey” or “whey protein” because Renee said it can cause high estrogen levels which can cause a number of health problems.
"It can start as simple as anxiety, mood swings, depression, and it can go up to fertility issues [and] all the way until we get into something really bad as cancer,” explained Renee.
2. SOY LECITHIN
The second ingredient to avoid is soy lecithin – often used as an emollient to make foods chewier. It can also lead to an increase in estrogen levels.
"If soy is in its pure form like tempeh or miso, we're not talking about those being harmful. We're talking about an extraction of soy that has been genetically modified,” said Renee.
3. BROWN RICE SYRUP
Renee said the third ingredient to avoid in food bars is brown rice syrup.
"Brown rice syrup has a very high glycemic index and can raise your blood sugar level very quickly. If you do that over and over, you're creating insulin resistance. And insulin resistance leads to diabetes,” Renee said.
For the sake of comparison, she explained that regular table sugar that you might have in a candy bar has a glycemic index of around 60, but processed brown rice syrup has a glycemic index of 85.
So what do you do if health bars are a routine in your diet? Focus on whole foods.
“Keep it simple. It's quality over quantity,” said Renee. “It's cucumbers, berries, have a handful of nuts.”
Jaclyn Renee recommends several specific health bars for those who really need the convenience of on-the-go meal replacement bars.
- The Garden of Life Performance Protein or Weight Loss bars
- The Pure Bar Organic Bars
- Sun Warrior Organic Sol Good Protein bars
She said each of theses is organic, Non GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.
Some are vegan as well.