Heart of the Matter – Protein bars

By Sarah Noone Nutrition News   |   29th Nov 2019

Our expert dietitian Sarah Noone on why  protein bars are not as healthy as you may think

Protein is definitely the hip and fashionable nutrient of the moment. There is a trend for products with added protein, but the reality is that most of us in the Irish population already get more protein than we need.

Foods rich in protein can be more filling than those high in carbohydrate or fat, but ‘high protein’ does not necessarily mean it is healthier, however ‘wholesome’ the packaging or labels may look.

A new report launched by Safefood recently revealed that chocolate is the main ingredient in almost 40 per cent of protein bars surveyed, with many also being high in saturated fat and containing added sugar and salt.

Overall of 39 protein bars surveyed by Safefood, 77 per cent were high in saturated fat with 79 per cent being a source of salt. The average bar size was 55g with an average price of €2.27 although some bars cost as much as €3.00 each making them more like expensive chocolate bars than a ‘healthy’ snack.

" If you do want to increase the amount of protein in your diet, healthy quick and easy sources of protein include, unsalted nuts, low-fat yoghurt and hard-boiled eggs,"

Sarah Noone, dietitian , Irish Heart Foundation

Additionally, when you look at the options between protein bars and standard chocolate bars there often isn’t a huge difference in the number of calories they contain.

While information on the front of packets has to be true, it doesn’t have to be the full truth. Often the positives of these so called ‘healthier options’ are front and centre, but the negatives are often skirted around. It is always important to remember individual ingredients will not make a product healthy if it is high in salt, saturated fat or sugars.

What I would always say is it’s important to think about why we are choosing a particular snack
When it comes to protein bars is it because we see it as a ‘healthier option’?

If you do want to increase the amount of protein in your diet, healthy quick and easy sources of protein include, unsalted nuts, low-fat yoghurt and hard-boiled eggs. Adults’ protein needs can be met by consuming a varied diet containing a range of protein sources, without the inclusion of commercial high-protein food products.

For more information on ways to eat well for your heart please see here 

 

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