Nutri Bar - A Healthy Snack or Sham?

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In the fast paced world, our health takes a backseat as a result of hectic lifestyles. The need of the hour is to be health conscious and look for snacks that help us balance our active lives with our nutrition needs.

The usual routine for many of us is to have food on the move rather than indulge in a leisurely meal. This if done sensibly can mean eating little but eating frequently and keeping our hunger at bay. In a way this can be a good strategy for our weight management.

The super-markets provide us with so much choice and variety that we can easily get confused. So basic knowledge is required for these purchases.

Nutri Bar - A Healthy Snack or Sham?

Fast food and deep fried commercially available snacks are highly unhealthy. Alternatively, nutri bars and granola bars are a healthy snack option that are packed with energy as well as essential nutrients.

The ingredients of granola bars are whole grain oats, fruits and nuts and, apparently, no preservatives. They are nutrient dense containing carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and fibre. It is considered to be a wholesome snack which provides natural energy to keep one going right through the busy day!

In India, one can choose from three flavors of Nature’s Valley granola bar, namely, Roasted Almond, Oats & Honey and Banana Nut. It has approximately 90 calories per bar, of which 25 to 30 calories come from fat content. It has various micronutrients too.

Nutri-bar is a cereal bar that has a unique combination of whole-wheat and oats topped up with dry fruits and nuts. The Horlicks nutri-bar comes in three flavors - namely Choco Crispy, Cereal n Milk and Nuts n Raisins. According to the label it provides 114 calories and 1.4 g protein.

There are various other nutri bars, protein bars, and bars containing nuts that provide different amounts of calories, fat, proteins and other essential nutrients.

Granola bars are convenient when you are travelling, as they are not too messy and occupy minimum space. However, it cannot replace a breakfast. Consuming them once or twice in a week is not a problem. Since the bar is small in size, you may end up eating three at a time so be careful not to over-indulge..

Choosing one bar as a substitute for chocolate or a fried snack makes a lot of sense. But replacing breakfast or a meal with these bars may not be a good idea.

We must keep some general tips in mind before shopping for processed foods:

Read the label carefully. If unable to comprehend then research it further.

Study the caloric content and the fat content of the product to get the true picture. Lower the fats and calories, the better it is for your health.

Check the sodium content as it may be harmful for people with high blood pressure.

Always check the expiry date.

The granola bars can be deceptive as some of them may have too much of fat and calories. But they are better than the fried snacks, farsans and the commercially available snacks. They have better nutrition value than French fries, colas and bakery products such as buns, cakes, pastries. The commercially available snacks are generally highly unhealthy. They are energy dense but do not provide nutrients vital to health. Nutri bars are a snack popular because of the convenience of a snack–on–the–go. To find out the efficacy of nutri bars in India, a study was done by Johannah Lydia Charles and Mary Pramela from the Department of Home Science of the Women’s Christian College, Chennai. The study investigators concluded that the nutri bars can be promoted as a nutritious, quick, “on the go snack” suitable for all age groups.

In the study two different nutri bars were formulated using various ingredients such as cereals, pulses, dried fruits, nuts and honey. One nutri bar was prepared using high cost ingredients and another using indigenous ingredient. Nutrient analysis showed that both nutri-bars were energy rich and nutrient dense with a high fiber, complex carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and mineral content and were very low in fat. They also did not contain any synthetic ingredients, preservatives or chemical additives and did not undergo any harmful processing.

Nutri bars are thus a healthier snack option compared to the popular deep fat fried or trans fat laden snacks available commercially.

Although the overweight individuals, diabetics, and elderly should still opt for lighter lesser calorie-home made whole grain snacks, nutri bars are a great nutrient packed option for the children, youth, and active individuals. Granola bars prepared are an even better bet over the commercial ones as they would contain less sugar and you can be sure of the ingredients.

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