Muesli bars are a favourite snack when the recess bell rings. Packing a muesli bar is easy, but what is difficult is choosing one that offers the best nutritional benefits for your child.
We compared three of the most popular muesli bars in Australia.
Carbohydrates are a great source of energy and are good for increasing the attention and concentration of kids. All muesli bars offer a great source of carbohydrates for energy from wholegrain cereals such as oats and wheat.
Sugar is also a source of carbohydrates, but look for muesli bars that have less added sugars. Added sugars are found in ingredients like honey and maple syrup. When looking at sugars, you ideally want a product with less than 15% sugars. If it contains dried fruit, you may allow for a little extra sugar, so 20% is okay. Both the Uncle Tobys and Nature Valley muesli bars fall outside the acceptable range, containing up to 28% of sugars. Only the Carman’s bar contains less than 15% sugars, with a total of approximately 12g per 100g.
In a similar manner, it is also worth paying attention to the contribution of saturated fats to the fat total. Fats have often been demonised but they play a key role in brain function, transport of vitamins and maintaining healthy skin. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest to incorporate so choose muesli bars with nuts and seeds in them. Even if the fat content is a bit higher than the others, you know the fats are coming from the nuts and seeds (the good fats!), so it is still a healthy option.
Fibre is important in keeping your gut and digestive system healthy, helping to feed the good bacteria that makes up your microbiome. Each of the bars we compared are a good source of fibre. The Carman’s bar contains the most fibre, contributing to 18% of the recommended dietary intake of fibre for children aged 4-8 years, compared to 9-11% in each of the other bars.
Although it may not seem like the highest priority to monitor your child’s sodium intake, many processed foods contain high levels of salt. So it is worth keeping this in mind when making your choice of bars. Of the three muesli bars, Carmen’s is the only one low in salt, having less than 120mg. The others have moderate amounts, ranging from 120-400mg. It is recommended that we look for less than 500mg sodium per 100g serve.
Depending upon your school’s nut policy, you may need to look for bars that dont contain an nuts. But if this isnt an issue they can be a nutritious ingredient which provides plenty of fibre and protein to the bar.
So, what is my pick? Carmen’s Original Fruit-Free Muesli Bar is the better option to include as a lunchbox snack. Being low in added sugar, salt and saturated fat, while being high in fibre as compared to the other bars, this will offer great nutritional benefits for appeasing your little one’s mid-morning munchies!