KIND bars are popular snack bars that pride themselves on “ingredients that you can pronounce.” KIND bars contain nuts, dried fruits, seeds and depending on the type of bar may contain up to 8 grams of added sugar. Some ingredients may not benefit individuals that are looking to lose weight and manage their glucose levels. Another controversial ingredient would be soy lecithin. Let's dig in.
KIND bars come in many varieties and depending on the one you choose the nutritional content can vary significantly. Most KIND bars have 170-200 calories and between 3-8 grams of protein. The fat content comes mainly from the nuts and is between 10-15 grams composed of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats. The fiber content can range between 2-7 grams and total sugar from 5-12 grams. Up to 8 grams of “added” sugar may be included. Carbohydrate count ranges from about 16-23 grams.
KIND bars contain a variety of nuts which is a good source of protein and fiber. Because we need fiber to help balance our digestive system, the bars with the higher fiber amount are better choices. Fiber makes you feel full and helps to prevent constipation. The bars higher in protein are good choices to support your body’s ability to build muscle and repair tissues. In addition to supporting enzymatic pathways in the body, protein is a building block for skin, hair, bones, cartilage and hormone production.
Although nuts are high in fat, these fats are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are heart healthy. The polyunsaturated fats include both omega 6 and omega 3. These fats support healthy blood pressure and can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Nuts are also natural antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories. These properties help prevent oxidation of our internal body which can lead to multiple chronic degenerative disease states. Certain nuts like almonds have shown to assist with weight loss and pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts have been linked to lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Nuts are also a source for vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, copper, selenium and phosphorous.
The nutritional concern with KIND bars is that most of these bars have some “added sugar”. This is not a healthy sugar and ends up providing excess calories without additional nutritional value. KIND bars use honey and vegetable glycerin as their main added sugars - which provide sweetness, empty calories and zero nutrition. Foods that contain added sugar are linked with the obesity epidemic, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and tooth decay. Some KIND bars have very low amounts of added sugar but some will have as much as 8 grams. The American Heart Association has recommended that women try to limit their added sugar intake to 24 grams daily and men 36 grams daily. Just one KIND bar with 8 grams of added sugar would equal one-third to one-fourth the recommended intake for women and men respectively.
Another ingredient in KIND bars is soy lecithin which is used as an emulsifier. Soy lecithin helps to give KIND bars a more smooth unified appearance and helps with digestion of the oils. One of the concerns with soy lecithin is that depending on the manufacturer the soy is usually GMO and combined with toxic chemicals. One chemical is hexane which is said to be removed in a secondary manufacturing process. It is unclear if toxic hexane residue remains and the FDA does not track this. If chemical residues do remain this may trigger allergic responses in certain sensitive individuals.
KIND bars are certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union. If a KIND bar contains dairy the label will read OU-D and if it is dairy free it will read OU. The main dairy component that is used in some of the bars is yogurt. Because honey is added to some of the bars this may not meet the standards of some vegetarians.
KIND bars appeal to many individuals in terms of taste and nutritional value compared to other snacks or bars available today. While KIND bars do have ingredients that bring healthy attributes, the added sugars and soy lecithin may be a concern for some. Checking the label will help determine the healthiest alternative for your individual needs. You can also obtain organic recipes online to make your own healthier “KIND bar knock off.” Another healthier option would be to grab a handful of nuts and a piece of organic fruit and enjoy!
Possible short-term side effects
- spike in glucose levels
- allergic reactions
- gastrointestinal upset
Possible long-term side effects
- elevated glucose levels
- weight gain
- cardiovascular disease
- metabolic syndrome
Ingredients to be aware of
- kosher certified
- gluten free
- cholesterol free
- healthy fats
- organic whole grain bars
- handful of nuts and piece of organic fruit