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I am saddened by the number of people who think that health bars are healthful. I am disappointed that many parents put these health bars in their children's lunches because they think that health bars are more healthful than candy.

An interesting report from Center for Science in the Pubic Interest evaluates health bars and finds that most flunk any reasonable definition of healthful. For a food to be healthful, it must be made from whole grains (not stripped down flour that has had vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals removed), provide at least 2 grams of fiber (the average North American gets only 11 grams of fiber per day when he and she need at least 35 grams per day.), contain at most a gram of saturated fat (because it raises cholesterol in people who take in too many calories), and should certainly have fewer than 14 grams of sugar per serving. (Excessive intake of sugar causes a high rise in blood sugar in diabetics, that causes sugar to stick to cells and be converted to sorbitol, a poison that damages cells and shortens life.)

The Center for Science in the Public Interest evaluated 86 health bars and found only 6 that could be called healthful. Among the best were Health Valley's Fruit Bars, Granola Bars, Bakes and Healthy Breakfast Bakes. They all had less than 11 grams of sugar in each bar, no saturated fat and fewer than 150 calories per bar. Barbara's Nature Choice Cereal Bars also did well.

Atkins Almond Brownie Diet advantage had more than 220 calories (too many) and 3 grams of saturated fat (more than an egg yolk), but on the good side, it has no sugar. Jenny Craig Oatmeal Raisin Diet Bar is anything but a diet bar. It contained more than 200 calories (to much), and 22 grams of sugar (way too much).

A healthful bar should be made from whole grains, provide at least 2 grams of fiber, contain at most a gram of saturated fat ), and should certainly have fewer than 14 grams of sugar per serving.

Checked 5/3/07

June 2nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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