When your mornings are busy, grabbing a cereal bar is a quick, convenient and tasty way to have breakfast on the go. But have you ever stopped and thought, how healthy are cereal bars? Our healthy cereal bars results may surprise you!
We’ve rounded up some of the most popular branded cereal bars on the market, plus some popular supermarket own-brand ones, and checked them to find out exactly what’s inside. Which are healthy and which are best and worst for your diet?
After all, a cereal bar is the ideal go-to snack when you’re on a move. They’re easy to eat, not too pricey and are often seen as a healthy option when it comes to snack time. However, not all are as healthy as you think – in fact, some contain high amounts of sugar and salt.
So if you want to know how healthy they are, check out our gallery of the best and worst bars and find out which ones are the most calorific. We’ve found some pretty shocking results; one cereal bar has over 15 grams of sugar – that’s more than a tablespoon! Not so diet-friendly if you think one teaspoon is around 4g…
Are cereal bars healthy?
Healthspan Nutritionist Rob Hobson explains that on the whole, ‘any shop bought cereal bar I would treat as a sweet snack’.
‘They often contain quite a bit of sugar, which is normally in the form of honey. However this is normally less sugar than a chocolate bar. The plus side of a cereal bar compared to other sweet treats is that they usually contain healthy ingredients such as nuts, seeds, oats and dried fruits. These offer healthy fats and minerals such as magnesium and iron.’
He adds that it’s best to stick to a bar made using oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.
‘To keep it as healthy as possible, I would steer clear of chocolate or any bar that has a coating of some sort – the yogurt ones can be very high in sugar! Check the sugar content by looking at both the front of pack labelling and the nutrition label on the back of the packet.’
Rob adds that the sugar found in a cereal bar is likely to have less impact on blood sugar levels than a bar of chocolate as the oats, nuts and seeds should ‘help slow down the release of sugar from the bar.
‘There are worse snacks you could choose to eat between meal as part of a healthy balanced diet. Be sure to look for the healthiest one you can find.’
Make your own cereal bars
Rob explains that making your own allows you to control what goes into them and that includes using less sugar.
‘You could use coconut oil and spices such as cinnamon to add sweetness without using too much honey. Toast your oats, nuts and seeds first as this helps to improve the flavour.’
This oaty granola bar is packed full of dried fruit and nuts to give you energy in the morning. It’s great for a post workout snack too as a means to refuel.
Or you could add dates to your granola bar for an extra fibre hit. This will aid digestion and curb a sweet tooth.
Can’t resist chocolate in the afternoon? Us neither, so chocolate chip granola bars could be just the ticket to hit that chocolate craving. These are a nice treat for kids too.
If you’re a grab and go, but still really want your delicious bowl of morning oats, then rustle up these healthy porridge bars. The oats in them provide fibre and the pumpkin seeds offer energy-giving b vitamins.
There’s always an occasion when a super sweet breakfast bar is needed so these strawberry and rhubarb bars are ideal and also make for great picnic treats with friends.
If it IS a treat bar you’re after, then these No Bake Toffee Krispies are seriously more-ish and still made with cereals. Fan of Cheerios? Us too! In under 20 minutes you can whip up these Cheerio and Peanut Butter bites. They taste naughty, but are surprisingly filling and will keep you satiated until your next meal. A fun one to make with the kids on rainy days are Marshmallow Crispy Bites which offer just the right amount of crunch and softness. We bet you can’t stop at one!
There’s no need to completely cut out shop bought cereal bars though. We’ve also found some pretty healthy options, so you can make the right choices about which cereal bars are best.
We’ve ranked our options in terms of calories, but it’s also worth considering protein content, which helps to keep you full, and healthy fats from the inclusion of higher-calorie ingredients like nuts. Some can also contain gut-healthy fibre, meaning some cereal bars are an easy way to get in your daily intake of 30g.
So, are cereal bars really healthy? How healthy is your favourite cereal bar? It’s time to find out which cereal bars are best and worst for your diet.
Cereal bars ranked in order of unhealthiest to healthiest:
1) BelVita Breakfast Biscuits Yogurt Crunch
Sugar: 7g per biscuit
Calories: 114 per biscuit (228 per packet of 2 – joint highest calorie content per serving!)
Fat: 1.9g per biscuit
Diet rating: 1/10
Okay, so a chocolate flavoured bar was always going to have a bit of added sweetener, but we were shocked when an Action on Sugar report pointed out that these cocoa-laden treats had 7g sugar per biscuit – that’s 14g (or four teaspoons) per packet. The calorie count is also high in comparison to many other breakfast substitutes, meaning these are probably one to have as a treat rather than on a daily basis, or try having just one biscuit and supplementing it with fresh fruit or protein-rich Greek yogurt to fill you up.
2) Cadbury’s Raisin Brunch Bar
Sugar: 10 g
Diet rating: 5/10
Although delicious and filling, these oaty, chocolatey Brunch Bars are pretty high in calories for just one bar – and even more so if you snaffle more than one! (because really, who doesn’t?) Brunch bars also contain huge amounts of sugar, so probably best to steer clear of these if you’re after a quick, midday snack
3) Eat Natural Cranberries, Macadamias and Dark Chocolate Bars
Diet rating: 3/10These little bars are gluten-free so great for allergy sufferers, and they contain dark chocolate, which is more diet-friendly than milk.A good buy then? Not when it comes to fat content – because of the high ratio of nuts, almost a third of the bar is packed with the stuff! Although the fat and sugar here is probably coming from healthy nuts and naturally sweet fruit we still think we’ll be saving these for an occasional treat.