Are Nature Valley bars healthy? Do you stockpile them like me, because you assume they are ‘healthy’?
Nature Valley bars are a popular snack option, often marketed as being made with whole grains and natural ingredients. However, whether or not they are truly healthy depends on quite a bit of factors, including your individual dietary needs and goals.
For hikers, specifically, the nutritional value of a quick snack is pretty darn important. Nature Valley bars can provide a convenient source of energy while on the trail, thanks to their high carbohydrate content. The whole grains in these bars can offer sustained energy release, which is beneficial for longer hikes. However, it’s worth noting that some Nature Valley bars also contain quite a bit of added sugars.
In this article, we’ll delve into the nutritional aspects of Nature Valley bars and discuss how they can fit into a hiking diet. Additionally, we’ll provide insights into whether or not these bars are suitable for consumption before or during a hike. So, let’s explore the benefits and considerations of including Nature Valley bars in your hiking routine!
Nutritional Profile of Nature Valley Crunchy Bars
So in this section, we will take a closer look at the ingredients that make up Nature Valley bars and explore what sort of benefits they provide. From whole grains and oils to natural sweeteners and potential allergens, let’s delve into the wholesome blend that makes these bars so appealing. Please note – this is the peanut butter variety that I will be going over in this article.
Whole Grain Oats
A fundamental component of Nature Valley bars is whole grain oats. Packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, oats are known for their ability to provide sustained energy. They offer numerous health benefits, including improved digestion, heart health, and reduced cholesterol levels. Whole grain oats contribute to the overall nutritional value of these bars and serve as a hearty base.
While Nature Valley bars do contain sugar, it’s important to note that the sugar content varies among different flavors. The sweet taste is intended to enhance the overall flavor profile. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that excessive sugar consumption should be moderated as part of a balanced diet.
Canola and Sunflower Oil
Nature Valley bars contain a blend of canola and sunflower oil. These oils are chosen for their relatively high levels of unsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Unsaturated fats are considered healthier alternatives to saturated fats and can contribute to heart health when consumed in moderation.
In select Nature Valley bars, you’ll find the delicious addition of peanut butter. Packed with protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients, peanut butter provides a satisfying and flavorful element to the bars. It’s important to note that individuals with nut allergies should be cautious, as some bars may contain almonds or pecans.
Rice flour is used in Nature Valley bars to add texture and enhance the binding properties. Derived from ground rice, this gluten-free ingredient is suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or dietary restrictions.
Brown Sugar Syrup
Brown sugar syrup acts as a natural sweetener in Nature Valley bars. While it provides a touch of sweetness, it’s important to consume these bars in moderation, as excessive sugar intake can lead to various health concerns.
Salt and Baking Soda
Small amounts of salt and baking soda are included in the ingredient list to enhance flavor and aid in the baking process. It’s worth noting that the sodium content in Nature Valley bars should be taken into consideration, particularly for individuals with specific dietary needs.
Soy lecithin is an emulsifier commonly used in food products to improve texture and prevent ingredient separation. Although there has been some claims that it soy lecithin isn’t good for you – none of it has been backed by concrete proof or evidence. It is derived from soybeans and poses no known health risks for most individuals. However, those with soy allergies should exercise caution.
What Is Bioengineered Food Ingredients?
Okay, so if you have a good eye, you may have caught the “bioengineered food ingredients” at the bottom. Sounds scary – I know. So let’s talk about it.
Nature Valley bars include a statement on the packaging that states “Contains bioengineered food ingredients.” This statement indicates the potential presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the bars.
According to General Mills, many of their products, including Nature Valley bars, may contain genetically modified or bioengineered (BE) ingredients in the United States. They explain that if a food or beverage product lists ingredients such as corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, or beet sugar, and the product is not organic, it is likely to contain bioengineered ingredients.
They also claim that bioengineered seeds have been approved by global food safety agencies and have been widely used by farmers for almost 20 years with approvals from organizations such as the U.N. World Health Organization, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Food Safety Authority, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Health Canada, all of which have deemed bioengineered crops as safe.
In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has established rules for food labeling to inform consumers about the presence of bioengineered foods or ingredients. Consequently, some of their products, such as these bars, will now have a statement on the package, such as “Contains a bioengineered food ingredient.”
For more detailed information on General Mills’ stance on GMO ingredients in their products, you can visit their official source: Do you use GMO ingredients in your products?
The Nutritional Profile Of Nature Valley Bars
|Amount per Serving (2 bars, 42g)
|11g (11g added sugars)
|Not a significant source
|Not a significant source
Now let’s break down the nutritional profile of this Nature Valley bar:
- Calories: One serving (two bars in one pack) of this Nature Valley bar provides 200 calories.
- Total Fat: Each serving contains 8 grams of total fat, which includes both saturated and unsaturated fats.
- Saturated Fat: Within the total fat content, 1 gram is saturated fat. Saturated fats should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
- Trans Fat: This Nature Valley bar does not contain any trans fat. Trans fat consumption should be minimized as it can have negative health effects according to Mayo Clinic.
- Cholesterol: There is no cholesterol in this bar.
- Sodium: Each serving contains 160 milligrams of sodium. It’s important to be mindful of sodium intake, especially for individuals with specific dietary needs.
- Total Carbohydrate: One serving provides 28 grams of total carbohydrates, which contribute to the energy content of the bar.
- Dietary Fiber: Each serving contains 2 grams of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and contributes to overall gut health.
- Total Sugars: The total sugar content in this Nature Valley bar is 11 grams, with all 11 grams coming from added sugars. It’s important to moderate added sugar intake as part of a balanced diet.
- Protein: Each serving provides 4 grams of protein, which contributes to muscle repair and maintenance.
- Potassium: This Nature Valley bar contains 2% of the daily recommended intake of potassium.
- Vitamin D and Calcium: This bar is not a significant source of vitamin D or calcium.
Effects of Nature Valley Crunchy Bars on Hiking
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s start talking about how these bars can can help (or hinder) your hiking. But mainly, these bars offer several benefits that can enhance your experience.
- Quick Energy Boost: Nature Valley Crunchy bars are packed with complex carbohydrates from whole-grain oats. These carbohydrates are a great source of energy and can provide a quick boost to keep you going during your hike.
- Convenient Grab-and-Go Snack: Convenience is key when hiking, let’s face it. The individual packaging of Nature Valley Crunchy bars makes them a convenient snack option for hiking. You can easily throw them in your backpack and enjoy them on the trail without the need for additional preparation.
With their energy-boosting properties (carbs) and convenience, Nature Valley Crunchy bars can be a valuable addition to your hiking snacks.
However, it’s important to consider other factors, such as their nutritional profile and your specific dietary needs, when incorporating them into your hiking routine. In the next section, we will discuss considerations for eating Nature Valley Crunchy bars while hiking.
Considerations for Eating Nature Valley Crunchy Bars While Hiking
When deciding to eat or take some Nature Valley Crunchy Bars on your next hike, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to ensure a balanced and nutritious snack option. Here are some key factors to consider:
Limiting Added Sugar Intake
The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 10% of your total energy from added sugars in your diet. It’s important to be mindful of the sugar content in Nature Valley Crunchy Bars, as they contain 9-12g of added sugar, which is considered a moderate-high amount compared to other granola bars of the same size. Monitoring your overall sugar intake from all sources can help maintain a balanced diet.
Choosing Low-Sugar Snack Bars
To reduce your sugar intake while enjoying a granola or snack bar during hiking, it is recommended to choose a bar with less than 6g of sugar per bar.
Does this mean you can’t ever have a nature valley bar? No – but you do need to consider your overall health and lifestyle first. Checking the nutrition label can help you identify bars that meet this lower criteria and provide a healthier option for your hike.
Pairing with Protein and/or Healthy Fats
Nature Valley Crunchy Bars are not a significant source of protein. To enhance the nutritional profile and make the snack more satiating, it is advised to pair the other higher protein foods. Personally, I love beef jerky. This combination can help slow down digestion and provide a more balanced and satisfying energy source while hiking.
By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about incorporating Nature Valley Crunchy Bars into your hiking snack routine.
Review of Different Flavors of Nature Valley Crunchy Bars
Nature Valley Crunchy bars are available in seven different flavors, each offering a unique taste experience. These flavors are:
- Oats ‘N’ Honey: A classic combination of oats and honey for a sweet and satisfying flavor.
- Apple Crisp: A delicious blend of crunchy oats and apple pieces, reminiscent of homemade apple crisp.
- Maple Brown Sugar: A delightful combination of maple syrup and brown sugar, offering a touch of sweetness.
- Oats ‘N’ Dark Chocolate: A rich and indulgent flavor, combining oats with the creamy sweetness of dark chocolate.
- Peanut Butter: An irresistible flavor for peanut butter lovers, providing a nutty and savory experience. This is my favorite – by far.
- Pecan: A nutty and buttery flavor, featuring the delightful taste of pecans.
- Roasted Almond: A crunchy and satisfying option with the distinct flavor of roasted almonds.
I have to say – I’ve been starting to really enjoy the Oats & Honey flavor, but the peanut butter remains my favorite to this day.
Including Nature Valley Crunchy Bars in a Balanced Snack Routine
Nature Valley Crunchy bars can be a delicious and convenient snack option to include in your daily routine. While they can provide energy and satisfy your cravings, it’s important to consider how they fit into a balanced snack routine. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Nature Valley Crunchy bars:
- Pair with protein and/or healthy fats: While Nature Valley Crunchy bars contain complex carbohydrates from whole-grain oats, they are not a significant source of protein or healthy fats. To slow digestion and provide a more satiating balance, consider pairing your Crunchy bar with a source of protein, such as Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts, or a healthy fat, such as almond butter or avocado.
- Choose a routine snack choice: Nature Valley Crunchy bars can be part of your regular snack rotation. However, it’s important to remember that variety is key. Consider incorporating other nutritious snacks, such as fresh fruits, vegetables with hummus, or homemade trail mix, to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients.
By pairing your Nature Valley Crunchy bars with protein and/or healthy fats and including them in a varied snack routine, you can enjoy them as a satisfying and balanced snack option. I know they’re easy and they taste great – but you need to look at the big picture, especially when it comes to diet.
While Nature Valley Crunchy bars can provide a convenient and energy-boosting snack option for hikers, it’s important to consider their nutritional profile before relying solely on these bars for sustenance.
With their complex carbohydrates from whole-grain oats, they can offer a quick energy boost. However, it’s worth noting that Nature Valley Crunchy bars contain a moderate-high amount of added sugar compared to other granola bars. To ensure a balanced hiking diet, consider pairing them with a source of protein and/or healthy fats, and be mindful of your overall sugar intake.
Nature Valley Crunchy bars can be a convenient option for hikers looking for a quick and satisfying snack. However, it’s important to make informed choices based on your individual dietary needs and preferences. By considering the sugar content, pairing with protein and/or healthy fats, and including a variety of snacks in your routine, you can make the most of Nature Valley Crunchy bars as part of a balanced hiking diet.