Today's world is so fast paced and neurotic that many people don't even have time to stop at a fast food place for lunch because that takes too long. On top of that, we are becoming more health conscious, we realize that fast food is terrible for us, so we try to avoid it. However, the majority of people won't wake up an extra 10-15 minutes earlier in the morning to prepare a lunch and some snacks for the day. The solution to these issues are thousands of different packaged snacks that are available, specifically nutritional bars. The main issue I have with nutritional bars is that some of them are great for you, while others are just as bad as eating a candy bar. With entire aisles of some grocery stores dedicated to nutritional bars it is hard for your average consumer to sift through the mess and pick out the good ones.
This week I will examine the Zone Perfect Classic (Chocolate Peanut Butter) bar and decide if it is "Healthy or Not?" After a quick look at the Nutritional Facts, I am liking what I see. The bar is 210 calories, 7g of fat, 24g of carbs (15g sugar, 3g fiber) and 14g of protein all of which are good or at least acceptable. The 7g of fat may be a turnoff to some, but if it comes from a good source such as peanut butter and not some weird oils then it's alright. It also has calcium, niacin, selenium and folate which are all pretty important minerals to get into the body. The Zone Perfect passes the test of nutritional facts, but what I am most concerned with is the ingredients that make up the bar.
They claim that it is an All-Natural Nutritional Bar which leads me to believe that when I read the ingredients label I will know what the majority of them are. The term "all-natural" can be very deceptive because the food companies can find a way to say just about anything is all natural if they want to. The FDA does not regulate these terms the same way they do the words "organic" or "lowfat" so it is a free for all when labeling things all-natural. The first ingredient is Soy Protein Nuggets which consists of soy protein isolate, tapioca starch and salt. The second concoction is where I run into some issues, it is the Peanut Butter Fudge which consists of corn syrup, peanut butter, invert sugar, sugar, palm kernel oil, milk protein, soy lecithin, xanthum gum, carob seed gum, natural caramel color, beta-carotene, vanilla extract and peanut oil with other natural flavors. The corn syrup and palm kernel oil are both a big negative as the corn syrup will send your insulin skyrocketing and the palm kernel oil is high in saturated fat. Fructose syrup, palm oil and corn syrup pop up in the chocolate flavored coating and in the regular ingredients list which are all a negative. All together the bar has too many ingredients in it for my liking. There are plenty of other bars out there that provide the same nutrients with far less ingredients. The bar also has peanut butter listed as being in less than 2% which shows that the majority of the fats in the bar are from sources such as palm kernel oil.
So Is It?
Sure the bar may be all-natural but it doesn't necessarily mean that it is healthy by any means. Based on the nutritional facts I am not turned off by the Zone bar, but the ingredients label did put a bad taste in my mouth. I will say that it is healthy but will give it a low rating considering the many other options that are better for you and likely in the same aisle at the grocery store. Check out Larabars, they have the same amount of calories as the Zone Bars. By the nutritional facts label you would think that the Zone bar is better for you since it has less fat and more protein. However, if you go down to the ingredients label there are three items (dates, peanuts, salt) and the salt only equates to 85mg which isn't much at all. It's funny how these things can be so trick , the Zone looks healthier but the Larabar is far better for you.