Are Kind Bars Really That Healthy for You?
The snack industry brings in hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and the demand for natural and organic options is ever growing. Finding easy and healthy snack options certainly can be a challenge, but unfortunately, many “natural” snack bars are essentially just candy bars with slightly superior ingredients.
With that said, they are hands down better than your average Twix or Snickers. But, these kind of bars do offer some nutritional benefit, so let’s look at the good before getting to the bad. Kind Bars are perhaps the most popular option for natural snack bars, as they can be found nowadays not only in health food stores, but everything from your corner 7-11 to most airport vending machines.
Here are the claims made on Kind Bar packaging:
- All Natural/Non GMO ingredients
- Gluten free
- Good source of fiber
What’s in a Kind Bar?
First of all, let’s take look at the nutritional breakdown of an Almonds and Apricot in Yogurt Kind Bar (1):
- Calories: 190
- Fat: 11 grams
- Saturated fat: 5 grams
- Sodium: 25 mg.
- Protein: 3 grams
- Sugar: 16 grams
- Carbohydrates: 23 grams
- Fiber: 2.5 grams
Ingredients: Almonds, coconut, honey, non GMO glucose, sugar, palm kernel oil, apricots, apple juice, crisp rice, vegetable glycerine, whey, skim milk, powdered yogurt, soy lecithin, chicory root fiber, citrus pectin, vanilla, natural apricot flavor.
Now, let’s compare that to a Snickers Bar (2):
- Calories: 250
- Fat: 12 grams
- Saturated fat: 4.5 grams
- Sodium: 120 mg.
- Protein: 4 grams
- Sugar: 27 grams
- Carbohydrates: 33 grams
- Fiber: 1 grams
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, skim milk, lactose, milk fat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, skim milk, lactose, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor.
What’s good about a Kind Bar?
Compared to a Snickers Bar, a Kind Bar is definitely better (not that Snickers sets the bars all that high). Kind Bars have 9 fewer grams of sugar, slightly more fiber and protein, far less sodium, and less added ingredients. Particularly, they do not contain partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), which are known to be linked to heart disease and other serious conditions (3). These are definitely all good things.
Do they live up to their health claims?
1. All Natural/Non GMO Ingredients
Kind Bars are without GMO ingredients, but the term “all natural” is a marketing trick that essentially means nothing. Companies and their products are held to a high standard when marking products “organic,” but any company can use the word “natural,” even if there’s nothing natural whatsoever about the product. Certain ingredients in a Kind Bar are natural (aka, they come from nature) such as honey, almonds, coconut and apricot. Out of the entire ingredient list; however, that’s about it.
2. Gluten Free
Yes, Kind Bars are gluten free, which is good news for those with Celiac Disease.
Not so much. While yes, Kind Bars do contain less added sugars than your average candy bar (and some varieties of Kind Bars are lower than others), they still are high in refined carbohydrates and added sugar. For controlling blood sugar, this sort of snack is much more likely to give you a temporary energy burst followed by a crash, which will leave you reaching for more refined carbs and sugary snacks.
3. Good Source of Fiber
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for fiber is 38 grams (which many nutrition experts still consider quite low), and a Kind Bar offers 3 grams. So, not a great source of fiber, but it is something. This is roughly the same amount of fiber that 1 cup of broccoli or kale offers.
Why are Kind Bars not a great snack option?
If you’re in a pinch or just eat them occasionally, Kind Bars aren’t so bad. Eating them every day should definitely be avoided, as there are far healthier snack options available (more on this in a moment).
Kind Bars still contain quite a few artificial ingredients and are relatively high in naturally occurring and added sugars. They don’t offer many nutrient benefits, either, so your body isn’t exactly reaping the nutritional benefits you’d want from a healthy snack.
However, if you really want to indulge in a Kind Bar, opt for either the Nut Delight (first choice) or the Fruit and Nut Delight (second choice), as these Kind Bar options contain far less sugar and sodium, fewer artificial ingredients and slightly more protein. There are also the Kind Bar Plus, which often have more calories and more artificial ingredients, so try to avoid these.
To see the types of Kind Bars ranked from best to worst, check out this great resource.
[Related: Is Gatorade Good for You?]
What snacks are better than Kind Bars?
The answer to this question is quite simple: real, whole foods. Ones that come from nature and do not come with an ingredient list.
Snacks should consist of foods that balance your blood sugar and keep you satiated by providing enough protein and good fats, and moderate carbohydrates that come, predominantly, from vegetables and/or fruits.
Here is a list of 20 simple, whole food snack ideas that are far superior to Kind Bars:
- 1 oz. almonds, walnuts or other nuts (about 1 small handful)
- Fruit salad or 1 piece of fruit (seasonal and organic, if possible)
- Smoked salmon
- Grass fed or organic beef or salmon jerky
- Nitrate free deli turkey breast rolled up with a slice of avocado
- Kale or sweet potato chips
- 1/2-1 can wild salmon or tuna with chopped tomato
- 1 plain, whole fat yogurt with a bit of chopped fruit and 1 tbsp. of honey
- Smoothie with hemp, pea or whey protein powder, fruit and 1 handful spinach
- Chopped veggies with pesto or hummus
- Seaweed snacks
- Roasted pumpkin seeds
- Chopped apple with 1 tbsp. of almond butter
- 1 oz. raw cheese
- 1/2 sweet potato with 1 tbsp. grass fed butter or coconut oil
- Sliced cucumber with 2 tbsp. guacamole
- 1 oz. dark chocolate (70% or higher)
- 1 cup mixed berries with 2 tbsp. of plain yogurt, add 1 tbsp. of honey if desired
- Classic ant-on-a-log: celery slices with organic peanut or almond butter, topped with raisins.
Remember, the right snack should keep you comfortably full until your next meal, and not leave you reaching for sugar, refined carbohydrates or caffeine shortly after. As often as possible, replace more processed snack options like Kind Bar with the ones suggested here. Once they become habit, these snacks will become your go-to as they will leave you feeling far more satisfied than any processed option could.