Have you ever asked yourself or your friend if Nature Valley protein bars are good for diabetics? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.
Diabetics looking for a healthy snack and protein supplement often struggle to find a good protein bar suitable for their needs.
Many bars are not good choices for diabetics because they are packed with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and carbohydrates.
Let’s look at one of the most popular protein bars, Nature Valley Protein Bars, and discover if they’re a good choice for those with diabetes.
So, are Nature Valley protein bars good for diabetics? No. Nature Valley Protein Bars are not ideal for people with diabetes. The protein bars are made with processed ingredients like sugar, brown sugar syrup, canola oil, and rice flour. Some of the bars contain nearly 20% of the recommended daily sugar intake in one 40 gram bar.
Why are Nature Valley Protein Bars No Good for Diabetics?
Nature Valley Protein Bars are advertised as being high protein and high fiber with no artificial colors or flavorings.
Reviewing the nutritional facts for each bar reveals most bars also contain high levels of saturated fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.
The Nature Valley Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Crunch Bar (39 grams per bar) contains:
- Total fat 11g 15% (dvi)
- Saturated fats 4g 20% (dvi)
- Total carbohydrates 15g 6% (dvi)
- Dietary fibers 2g 6% (dvi)
- Added sugars 7g 14% (dvi)
- Protein 10g 14% (dvi)
The combination of high fat, carbohydrates, and high sugars would register this bar as being high on the GI spectrum and should be avoided or consumed very infrequently by people with diabetes.
Low Glycemic Diet and Foods (Low GI)
Carbohydrates are an essential part of any diet as they provide fuel for the brain, muscles, and organs of the body.
However, not all carbohydrates are created equal, and some carbs are digested faster than others. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a tool that measures how carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels.
There are three markers that define a food’s GI levels:
- Low: 55 or less
- Mid: 56 – 69
- High: 70+
Diabetics looking for a snack such as a protein bar should look for low GI foods since this will release blood sugars slowly and prevent the occurrence of blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Check the label and take into consideration the total carbohydrates consumed and other nutritional factors.
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Foods made with processed grains, flour, or sugars tend to have higher GI scores compared to foods made using intact whole grains.
The higher the carbohydrate content for each serving, the more it will affect blood sugar levels.
Foods that are higher in fiber, (especially soluble fiber) tend to have lower GI scores than those that have less fiber.
High-fiber foods are also noted to help control blood sugar levels by slowing and reducing the absorption of sugar from the digestive system.
Foods made with refined grains will often have a lower fiber content.
Protein and Fat
Protein and fat do not directly impact blood sugar levels as much as other ingredients. However, for better health, it is best to avoid foods that are high in fats, especially saturated fats.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends people with prediabetes follow these guidelines for fat consumption, which is the same as the general population.
How Do Nature Valley Protein Bars Compare to Other Snacks?
Nature Valley Protein Bars boast high protein and high fiber levels, but unfortunately, many flavors have high levels of sugar and carbohydrates too.
Here is a comparison of some of the different flavors available.
Nature Valley Coconut Almond Protein Chewy Bar
An example from the Nature Valley range is the Coconut Almond Protein Chewy Bar. This 40-gram bar contains a mixture of roasted peanuts, almonds, and coconut flakes.
It is advertised as Gluten-free and contains 10g of protein.
The nutritional facts label also notes a high level of saturated fats and sugars. There are 7 grams of sugars per bar, or almost 20% of this bar is sugar.
Total carbohydrates are noted at 15-grams or 6% of the recommended daily intake.
Nature Valley Blueberry Nut Protein Bar
In search of a bar that has less sugar, let’s look at the perceived fruit bar, the Blueberry Nut Protein Bar.
This 40-gram bar is advertised as containing 10g of protein, being gluten-free, and made with blueberries, roasted peanuts, and nut butter.
While the Blueberry nut flavor contains no artificial flavors or colors, each bar contains 11 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugars, and 16 grams of carbohydrate.
In comparison, a popular candy bar such as the Reese’s Sticks Wafer Bar contains 18g of sugars, 23g (8%) of carbohydrates, and 5g (25%) of saturated fats in each 42-gram bar.
While Nature Valley on the surface may look like a ‘healthy’ snack option for people with diabetes, dig a little deeper into the nutritional facts and you’ll find they are not as healthy as one may have thought.
They are cleverly marketed as containing no artificial flavors or colors.
However, the snacks contain high levels of carbohydrates and sugars in each bar, with some containing close to 20% sugars of the overall weight of each serving.
While many of the ingredients are indeed healthy, diabetics need to take into consideration the Glycemic Index and factor this into their daily diet plan.
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