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Processed ‘health’ bars may not be as healthy as they seem

Wednesday, 13th September, 2017 6:07pm

My friend Derval is a busy woman and cooking for herself is a bit of a problem for her. So she snacks a lot. 

The other day, she asked me for healthy snack alternatives as she was eating way too many chocolate-based bars. Of course, we discussed the ‘healthy’ bars as well and her expression changed quite a bit when I started talking about sugar, fat and salt content in each of these ‘healthy’ alternatives.

Don’t get me wrong, I do snack a lot myself. The other day, I made beetroot hummus and baked a small bread which I sliced and toasted to make crackers.

I snacked on that in the office over the whole working day – it was the healthiest way I knew to eat some vegetables and easy to take to work on that particular day.

Another idea for getting a good portion of veggies is to cut yellow, red and green peppers into strips, dip into a bit of hummus and snack away nicely without the addition of sugar, salt or fat.

Obviously, ‘healthy’ snacks should be exactly what it says on the tin (or package) but if you read the ingredients list, you might get weak knees.

Let’s have a look at a cereal bar that is a bestseller and promotes itself as a great snack for people today.

The ingredient list is longer than my arm including soybean oil (which can be used as a base for paint), soy grits (doesn’t really sound appetizing), sucralose (artificial sweetener) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) – an artificial preservative that is under investigation to cause harm in the human body.

So, to answer Derval’s questions, snacking anything processed might not be good for you but as with all things, keep the balance right.

I am not telling people to stop eating these bars, but maybe replace them more often with fresh vegetables and fruit.

You can also make your own snack bars – you will see that it is much easier than you think but that all of the recipes include the addition of honey or sugar as well as oil in some form. Sugar and fat are after all preservatives. I know that I would rather eat a natural preservative than an artificial one.

I don’t think if it was what Derval wanted to hear but here we are; me being the bearer again of bad news!

If you are thinking of finding healthier alternatives, the help of a nutrionist or dietician might be the way to go – I am neither so I could be completely wrong (there is still hope, Derval).


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