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Energy Bar or Sugar Bar?

Never been keen on energy bars – too much sugar and “enriched”.

And the mixture of carbs and proteins have me thinking of Fit For Life by Harvey Diamond and Natural Hygience of Shelton.

Hubby and I usually bring along with us, brown rice crackers, sesame crackers, pesticide-free sunflower seeds, or apples when we know we may by out for a while.

Someone did an interesting analysis here of the “smoke and mirrors” food:


“Energy Bar Ingredients Decoded

From Will Glessner, for

Updated: July 17, 2007 Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

Over the years I’ve taken a keen interest in the ingredients of the things I might want to eat. Despite the best efforts of the Food And Drug Administration, there is so much “smoke and mirrors” on the average food label that sometimes I have to think about what I’m about to put in my mouth.

Case in point: PowerBar Harvest Whole Grain Energy Bar
The ingredients list (ordered by weight of the ingredient, as required by the FDA): “Brown rice syrup, whole oats, rice crisps (milled rice, sugar, salt, barley malt), evaporated cane juice syrup, roasted soy beans, Chocolatey coating (sugar, fractionated Palm Kernel oil, alkalized cocoa…” OK, let me up! I’ve had enough.

Here’s the translation:

  • Brown rice syrup: sugar from brown rice, dissolved in a little water
  • Whole oats: I’ll buy that. Soak ’em in water then mash them flat between steel rollers. A cheap, chewy, complex carb.
  • Rice crisps: this means cold, cooked, white rice that’s plunged into boiling water, then roasted. You plunge cold, cooked, white rice into boiling water and it puffs out like popcorn. Roast it and you have a crunchy, easy to digest product completely devoid of nutrition. Eat enough of it, and it will send your blood-glucose through the roof. Think of the popular breakfast cereal known as Rice Crispies. Same thing.
  • Sugar: sugar
  • Salt: salt
  • Barley malt: Boil the variety of grain known as barley until all the starches are converted into sugars. The process is known as malting.
  • Breweries use malted barley to make beer. Power Bar is using it because it makes bland, puffed white rice taste better – but essentially it’s just a different kind of brown sugar.
  • Evaporated cane juice syrup: Brown sugar by a new name! How the heck do you think we get brown sugar in the first place? You squeeze the drippings from sugar cane, dry off all the water, then grind the residue and pour it into tidy boxes that have a “brown sugar” label on them.
  • Roasted soy beans: high in protein, higher in fat, but the “good” kind of fats.
  • Chocolatey coating: the term “Chocolatey” is a spiffy end-run past the Food & Drug labeling requirements. Since they aren’t actually calling this coating “chocolate”, it can be practically any edible substance with a vaguely chocolate flavor.
  • Sugar: sugar
  • Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil: Palm Kernel Oil is the vegetable equivalent of wax. It defies the most robust of digestive enzymes and scoots right through your bowels at illegal speeds. You will burp a lot meanwhile. “Fractionated” means “cooked at high temperatures in the presence of a catalyst to break it down” – into a slightly more digestible form. It will still scoot through your bowels, but just below illegal speeds.
  • Alkalized cocoa: a few cocoa beans are chemically treated with acrid chemicals. The residue provides flavor for an entire batch of energy bars.


Sugar: TWO of the top FIVE ingredients are sugars: brown rice sugar and brown cane sugar. This means a sugar high followed by a sugar crash.
Oats: Oats are included to provide enough bulk to form the mass into a flat, chewy log. Your jaw will get tired chewing on it. Just maybe the oats will even out the sugar high/crash.
Chocolatey coating: The “Chocolatey coating” and its sub-set of ingredients are a small component of this PowerBar. I doubt that an amateur athlete will have digestive problems with this nosh. But the waxy Palm Kernel oil will coat your teeth and trap oat bits.
Rice Crisps: The highly-processed ‘rice crisps’ make the bar crunchy and flavorful, and give more bits to stick to your teeth. You’ll need to brush your teeth after you eat this.

Only the oats and soybeans provide any nutrition to speak of, in the form of protein. PowerBar augments this lack of nutrition by adding a host of artificial vitamins.

Cheaper alternatives to this foil-wrapped horse fodder include a toaster pastry with a small V-8 juice, or a Payday candy bar with half a One-A-Day vitamin.”


CONCLUSION:  There are healthier alternatives.


August 25, 2009 - Posted by | Healthy Alert

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