How to Choose a Healthy Muesli Bar

January 31, 2015 BY: LISA

 

There is no doubt there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to muesli bars and they certainly do run the full range from glorified, large sweet biscuit  to a healthy snack but what should you look for when choosing a good muesli bar?

Muesli bar shelves

The points I have outlined below are the things I would look at in order to choose a suitable muesli bar to snack on occasionally for my family and myself.

 

What to look for:

museli bar panel

Energy: When we think of energy we are talking about calories, or kilojoules, which is the measure we use in Australia. It’s a fact that we often eat a snack in the hope it will give us more energy but when you are looking at the label on the packaging of a food product more energy is not necessarily better – particularly if you are watching your weight.

When you choose a snack it is useful if the energy is less than 600kJ

 

Fat: When I look at fat I look first at the total fat per 100grams and then I look to see how much of the total fat is saturated fat (bad fat that raises cholesterol). What I hope to see is that no matter how much total fat is in the product that only a very small amount (less than one quarter) is saturated fat.

For example: if the product contains 12 grams of fat/100grams then in order to me to consider the product healthy it would need to have 3 grams of saturated fat or less, ideally less.

Total fat                               12grams

Saturated fat                     less than 3grams

 

Sugar: A muesli bar and any other food that I consider healthy would need to have 15grams of sugar or less per 100grams. However, given that most muesli bars have dried fruit in them it is more likely they will contain 20-25 grams of sugar per 100grams. This is where it can be useful to look at the ingredients list and see where sugar or a sugary sounding equivalent is on the list. The higher up the list the greater the quantity of sugar in the product. Sugar is not an essential nutrient but it is okay to have in small amounts.

 

Other names sugar may come under include:

  • Things ending in “ose” e.g. maltose, dextrose, fructose
  • Honey, golden syrup, molasses
  • invert sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Things ending in “ol” , such as sorbitol

 

 

Dietary Fibre: If you are running short of time the simplest way to check if a muesli bar is good for you is to look at the dietary fibre.

 

The more fibre the merrier!

 

Some bars have 2% fibre this will mean they are high in sugar and not that good at all- more like a sweet biscuit – and this makes it one of those refined carbohydrates we should not be eating a lot of. The higher fibre products, those will 7 grams of fibre per 100grams or more, are highly likely to be a healthy choice.

 

Overall…

Keep in mind that variety is important in a healthy diet,  this concerns meals as well as snacks. So even though a muesli bar is really easy to carry and convenient it would be great to mix up your snack choices throughout the week and not rely on the same things all the time.

 

There are a couple of factors that can stop muesli bars from being a good everyday choice:

 

-High in good fat but the serve size means the calories are higher so eating these everyday may compromise your weight. Perhaps try eating half the bar and a piece of fruit.

-High in sugar and low in fibre – these ones may taste okay and be convenient but they are really not good choices.

 

I hope this helps – I’m happy for you to share it with your friends as a useful resource.

Enjoy!

Lisa APD

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