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Are protein bars or energy bars as good as they tell you?
That depends on the ingredients they contain. But how do you know if you are truly eating healthy? In this article we’ll explore what ingredients to avoid so that you only eat the most natural and healthy options.
Very common ingredients in commercial bars that you should avoid.
- High fructose corn syrup
High-fructose corn syrup, also called glucose-fructose syrup or HFCS / AMAF / SMAF, is derivative of syrup or corn syrup that has gone through the process of converting part of its glucose into fructose to produce an extra sweetness and make a sweetener even cheaper than sucrose (sugar). It was a Japanese invention in the 60s that is now very common in industrialized foods and beverages. Stay away from this though, because countless studies by doctors at national health institutes, HFCS is related to obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- Artificial sweeteners and added sugars
The artificial sweeteners instead of being a solution, as many think, shorten the journey for diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart risk, therefore, it is best to avoid them. It has been proven that artificial sugar consumption produces an increase in the levels of insulin of our body, which will not be able to be used since there is no real sugar. Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Too much insulin without sugar for it to regulated leads to hypoglycemia.
The same thing goes for the added sugars, related to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the industry usually camouflages the name of sugar with other synonyms to try to deceive the consumer. So it is important to know these names behind which the added sugar is hidden:
- Cane juice
- Cane honey
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Invert sugar
So, if what you want is a sweet taste, the best option is to consume bars that contain sugars naturally present in their ingredients such as figs, berries, dates, fruits or raisins.
- Sunflower and palm oil
Palm oil just like coconut oil, is a very controversial ingredient. It has health benefits to be sure, but it is also very high in saturated fats. If you read my recent article on coconut oil, you know that saturated fats are nothing to be afraid, and that should remain true for Palm oil as well. The problem with palm fruit oil however, is not so much its saturated fat content because we know coconut oil has plenty of that and it’s one of the healthiest oils on Earth. However, coconut oil does not suppress the body’s natural appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin. It is the triglyceride structure in palm oil which creates potentially negative health effects in contrast to coconut oil whose structure actually promotes health. Coconut oil also contains much higher amounts of myristic, lauric, and capric acid which are relatively absent in palm oil. Although coconut oil also contains palmitic acid, the ratio is much lower (about 9 times lower) and coconut oil’s saturated fat profile is much more balanced than palm oil. The health promoting effects of coconut oil exceed palm oil’s by a very large margin. This is largely due to the creation process of Palm oil, that includes a lot of heating and processing. And, unfortunately, palm oil is widely used in nutrition bars and other health products. (Keep a an eye out! I will be writing an article on palm oil very soon!)
Because it is in so many of oil based daily products, involuntary consumption of palmitic acid is almost runaway, and it is very difficult to pinpoint the everyday items that are packed with this oil, if you do not know how to read labels.
Regarding sunflower oil, its main problem is its low resistance to high temperatures. Unlike olive oil, sunflower oil resists high temperatures very poorly and has a greater tendency to form polymers similar to saturated and trans fats due to the effect of temperature. That is why the consumption of sunflower oil has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases and many types of cancer.
Finally, as you can imagine, by using these cheap ingredients, the food industry manages to mass produce a larger amount of products at a very low cost, losing the nutritional quality of the product by reducing the nutrients it provides and increasing the so-called empty calories, that is, calories that do not provide any nutrients to our body.
All things considered, the best way to consume natural bars is by doing them yourself. Once you learn the process and the little nuances, the bars you make will be perfect, healthy and fitting for your unique taste! If you don’t have the time to make bars however, you can always counts on Natural Athlete bars which are 100% unprocessed, and 100% natural!