Nutri-grain bars are bad for you. While they do contain some vitamins and minerals and may help provide a short-term boost of energy, the harmful ingredients cancel out most of the potential health benefits.
Most people grab Nutri-grain bars as a quick, on the go snack, something to eat at their desk, in class, or after working out. But, why is the question. Sure, they contain carbohydrates and protein that could boost energy and even some vitamins and minerals to replenish loss from activity, but most of these come from an enrichment process.
Enriched flour in the second ingredient in this food meaning it is the second largest in content. Flour is enriched essentially to replenish what is lost as the flour is processed. Fiber is one of the major losses during processing as the germ and bran are removed. The lack of fiber in these flours means that they cause a spike in blood sugar due to their high glycemic load. Eating a regular diet of high glycemic foods and low fiber can cause some health concerns including increased risk of heart disease, higher cholesterol levels ,and weight gain.
Other ingredients in the crust to be aware of include mono- and diglycerides, soy lecithin, and carrageenan. Mono- and diglycerides are essentially an artificial trans fat produced when processing oils which somehow by-pass the required trans fat labeling requirements. They are no better for you, though, it’s just a loophole in labeling. Trans fats also raise cholesterol and can lead to heart disease.
Soy lecithin, aside from typically being manufactured from GMO soy plants and being a common allergen, provides your body with excess estrogen. This estrogen can lead to cancer, weight gain, and infertility. There’s also the possibility of hexane remaining in this food product from the extraction process.
While carrageenan comes from the healthy food source seaweed, it is processed to the point of no remaining nutritional value. Your body also does not know how to digest it so once consumed, an inflammatory process begins leading to gastrointestinal issues like ulcers, bleeding, ulcerative colitis and colon cancer.
Many Nutri-grain bars claim to have a fruit filling which excites many and encourages one to try many flavors. The problem here is that not much of this filling is actually from fruit. Yes, there is some amount of fruit puree concentrate, but the rest is made up of various types of sugar, corn syrup, additives, artificial flavoring and food dye.
The filling is also doing its part in raising blood sugar levels with ingredients like invert sugar, corn syrup, the strawberry puree concentrate, sugar, and glycerin. Too much of these foods in your diet and you’re heading right down the road to diabetes. Along with corn syrup, there is modified corn starch both made by processing corn, a highly genetically modified food.
Food colorings can also have some terrible health effects. Caramel coloring, for example, is used in some of the Nutri-grain bars. Actually, caramel coloring is one of the most used artificial colorings in the world, not only in foods but for sodas, chocolate, bread, gravy, etc. Caramel coloring has been linked to high blood pressure, cancer, decreased immune system, and allergies. The strawberry filled Nutri-grain bars and a few other flavors contain Red 40 coloring as well. This is one of the food coloring additives that has been linked not only to cancer, but allergies, hyperactivity, learning impairments, irritability, and aggressiveness.
Possible short-term side effects
- raises blood sugar
- allergic reaction: soy, hexane, wheat, gluten, food coloring
- abdominal pain
- increased blood pressure
Possible long-term side effects
- heart disease
- hight cholesterol levels
- weight gain
- decreased immune system
- gastrointestinal issues: ulcers, bleeding
- ulcerative colitis
- learning impairments
Ingredients to be aware of
- mono- and diglycerides (trans fat)
- soy lecithin
- guar gum
- natural and artificial flavor
- caramel coloring
- red 40
- short-term boost of energy
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Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS | 08-31-2016
Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS
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