Monday, October 11, 2010

Food: Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars

Our next stop on the granola bar study is Nature Valley, famous for making several hundred different brands of granola bar.  Nature Valley made the first granola bars I saw in college, these Oats 'n Honey bars.  Since a friend let me try them I started buying them in bulk for random snacks, something I had a lot of since the cafeteria was a horror show.  Was this a healthy decision?

Looking at the Oats 'n Honey bars the first conclusion that can be reached is that typing the apostrophe in Oats 'n Honey is really irritating.  Moving on to the productive part of this program, we can see that this granola bar has no trans fat and no high (insert sugar) corn syrup.  We may notice that sugar is the second ingredient, with honey and brown sugar syrup not too far behind.  Sugars total 12g in a 42 gram serving.  Oats 'n Honey bars are 28.5% sugar and 14.2% fat.  Comparing this to the Fiber One bar we looked at last week we have more sodium (95mg vs160mg) and less dietary fiber (9g vs 2g).  These bars don't taste bad, but they aren't really amazing either.  The only thing this bar has over the Fiber One bar is 2 grams of protein.  In my opinion, not worth what you lose.

Let's see how the other flavors stack up:
Peanut Butter - Trade a gram of sugar for a gram of protein, good trade.  These taste better than the Oats 'n Honey, with a little bit of the creaminess of peanut butter.  Click here for Full Nutritional Information.
Cinnamon - One extra gram of sugar from the Oats 'N Honey, but again a better taste.  Click here for Full Nutritional Information.
Maple Brown Sugar - Oddly enough there isn't more sugar in this despite the name, I guess that's as much a condemnation of the other bar's almost 30% sugar content as a recommendation for this one.  Nothing noteworthy in the flavor department.  Click here for Full Nutritional Information.
Roasted Almond - Has one gram less sugar than Oats 'n Honey, and tastes good.  There's a faintly sweet almond taste, making this one of my favorites.  Click here for Full Nutritional Information.
Apple Crisp - One gram less sugar and one gram less protein.  Click here for Full Nutritional Information.
Pecan Crunch -Same nutritional information as the Oats 'n Honey, slightly tastier. Click here for Full Nutritional Information.

Final Thoughts:  I want to cut these guys some slack for using all natural ingredients, however, General Mills makes it hard by raising the percent of the bar that is pure sugar, and sucking out the fiber as compared to the Fiber One bars.  Not the healthiest snack in the world with nearly 30% sugar.  The search continues.

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