This is inspired by Dr Valter Longo’s The Longevity Diet, which suggested a “nut and whole-grain dark chocolate bar” as a suitable snack. The problem with most of these snack bars is that the added sugar makes them far less healthy than the main ingredients on their own.
Here’s an example, the Eat Natural Protein Bar with peanuts and chocolate. Ingredients list:
- Peanuts 45%
- Glucose Syrup
- Dark Chocolate 11% (Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Dextrose, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin)
- Soya Protein Crispies 8% (Soya Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt)
- Shredded Coconut 7%
- Honey 7%
- Crisped Rice (Rice, Sugar)
- Cocoa Powder
First of all, as most labels are ordered from highest to lowest % content, we can deduce that Glucose Syrup is at least 11% of the bar. Glucose is sugar, therefore it’s “Sugar Syrup”. There’s also 8% Soya protein crispies, with soy products possibly being linked to increased oestrogen levels which are particularly bad for men but not great for women either. Sugar appears again in the dark chocolate along with dextrose (sugar from corn), and sugar is part of Crisped Rice too. All in all, for a 45 gram bar it contains 8.4 grams of sugar, making it 19% sugar by weight and 15% sugar by calories.
Eat Natural are actually one of the better options out there, which tells you everything you need to know about the snack bar industry. Here they are lining the shelves of my local Tesco, all what I would categorise as “fake health foods”. Just remember, if it’s under 100 calories it’s not magic – you’ll probably not feel any less hungry after eating it.
What’s The Alternative?
If you are in need of a snack at home or on the go, you can prep your own combination of Dark Chocolate and Nuts in under 60 seconds.
For the dark chocolate I recommend those containing over 70% cacao solids. My brands of choice are Lindt and Green & Black’s, but if neither are on discount I will buy store brand. For more options check out Dark Chocolate: The Best and Worst Brands.
For the nuts it’s mainly down to personal preference – yes it’s true that some have a higher fat content, others pack more vitamins and minerals, but for enjoyment it’s best to choose those you enjoy.
Simply break off 10 grams of dark chocolate, a moderate handful of nuts (25-30 grams) and chop both up with a sharp knife.
Then if you plan to eat them straight away they can be placed in a small bowl, or if eating later pop them in a piece of Tupperware. Calorie content will vary based on the nuts but you’ll see a calorie breakdown below as well as carbohydrate and fat content.
These values are for unsalted nuts and they are also raw, so not roasted. A 10 gram piece of dark chocolate contains 1.4 grams of sugar and 25 grams of nuts contain around the same amount, meaning your snack is under 3 grams of sugar. Although nuts are very low in saturated fat you’ll find that dark chocolate is high in saturated fat, so it’s important to stick with a 10 gram serving and not to over indulge.