The Crumbling Reputation of Granola Bars
As Clif and KIND bars feud on social media, a dietitian shares which bars end up in his cart
Taylor Swift and Katy Perry recently quashed their years-long social media beef, but the makers of Clif and KIND bars are going at it like bitter rivals over who has the superior — or in this case “healthier” — offering (see this tweet and the comments section of this Facebook post to get a gist of the feud).
To quote Swift’s latest, Clif and KIND both need to calm down because, in my opinion, neither one stands out as a top choice.
Although Clif bars are oat-based and some varieties contain heart-healthy fats from peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts, other varieties are quite high in added sugar and get a good portion of their fats from added oils which are less nutrient-rich than whole foods sources of fat. Compared to the wide array of bars out there, Clif bars fall in “middle of the pack” territory (bonus points for the company’s commitment to organic agriculture, which is important from both an ecological and sustainability standpoint).
With only four or five grams of sugar, some KIND bars have less sugar than a classic Clif bar (average of 20 grams). But those low sugar options contain palm kernel oil (not the healthiest of oils) and alkalized cocoa, which is code for “cocoa stripped of its more healthful properties.”
Clif and KIND bars are nutritionally surpassed by other brands with new varieties. But choosing what’s actually good for you is difficult. Companies often use terms like “granola bar,” “protein bar,” and “snack bar” to describe similar products, adding to the consumer’s confusion at the grocery store.
“Granola bar” is the least accurate term because most bars these days are not made from granola, which is traditionally a mixture of oats, nuts, and seeds. Don’t let the word “granola” fool you. While there are some nutritious varieties out there, most pack a hefty caloric punch as a result of added sugars and calorically dense oil.
As a dietitian, I take my snack bars seriously since they are a flavorful opportunity to add extra nutrition to my day.