Buy a Healthier Granola Bar

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.  |  Friday, September 19, 2014
Granola bars are convenient when you’re on the go, but some varieties have such a hefty sugar load they may as well be sold in the candy aisle. You can't assume all of them are automatically healthy.
Here's how you can find the healthiest granola bars:
Star Ingredient: Make sure oats are the first ingredient listed on the package. This healthy whole grain is a good source of fiber, which helps keep you full and is good for your cholesterol. If rice or rice flour is listed, make sure it’s brown rice (it’s a whole grain), otherwise it’s refined.
Chewy vs. Crunchy: Crunchy bars tend to have a shorter ingredient list than chewy bars, but a package may have about 50 more calories because they usually come in pairs. If you’re looking for fewer calories go for chewy, or have just one of the two crunchy bars.
Limited Added Sugar: Sugar holds the bars together and is often the second ingredient. You can’t avoid it but you can minimize added sugars by skipping flavored coatings, like chocolate and yogurt, on your bars. Anything that’s “dipped” or “drizzled” likely has more added sugar.
Flavor Danger: The occasional bit of chocolate in your granola bar is OK, but try not to overdo it—especially with all the tasty bars on the market that are made with nutrient-rich dried fruit, nuts and seeds. These ingredients can boost the nutrition and flavor of your bar.
Brands We Like: Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin-N-Spice, Cascadian Farm Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter and Kashi Crunchy Granola & Seed Chocolate Chip Chia Granola Bars.
*We looked at oat-based granola bars only and did not include cereal, protein or energy bars.