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You might assume that oat, nut and fruit bars are always healthier than a Mars bar. But you’re wrong.

High street cereal and protein bars can contain even more calories than Britain’s best-loved treat.

Kind Protein’s Dark Chocolate Nut Bar (274), Eat Natural Almond and Cocoa Bar (243), and the Deliciously Ella Peanut Butter Bar (230) all have more than a Mars (228).

And Nakd bars in blueberries or salted caramel, as well as Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Raisin bar, contain about 18 g of sugar — the same amount as four McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives.

Experts warned that despite appearing healthier, the snacks “should be treated with caution” as they can be high in fat, sugar or salt, while also being packed with fruits and nuts.

MailOnline looked at 100 muesli, fruit and nut bars – often eaten for breakfast or as a snack during the day – available from supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.

Most contain health claims on their packaging, such as “packed with protein,” a “source of fiber,” and “lower sugar.”

Some also emphasized that they were “raw,” “made with natural ingredients,” and contain vitamins.


Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS

• Eat at least five servings of different fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Basic meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains

• Thirty grams of fiber per day. This is equivalent to eating all of the following: five servings of fruits and vegetables, two whole-wheat granola biscuits, two thick slices of whole-wheat bread, and a large baked potato with skin

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks), choose options with less fat and less sugar

• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including two servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small quantities

• Drink six to eight cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide

A Kind Protein Dark Chocolate Nut Bar – packed with almonds, peanuts and dark chocolate – contains 274 calories, which is more than a bar of Dairy Milk (240).

However, the Kind option has just 8.6g of sugar, compared to 25g in the chocolate bar, and four times more protein.

Eat Natural bars in almond and cocoa, as well as pecans and peanuts, contain about 240 calories and 6 g of sugar.

This is more caloric than a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donut (200). However, it is half the sugar content (12.6 g).

A Deliciously Ella Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bar contains 230 calories, more than a Kit Kat Chunky – although again it has half the sugar content (10.6 g vs. 20.5 g).

An oatmeal bar with strawberries, raspberries and cranberries from Quaker Porridge contains 218 calories — about five Jaffa Cakes — and 8.3 g of sugar.

Meanwhile, Nakd Blueberry Muffin and Salted Caramel Bars, along with Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Raisin Bars, were the most sugar-packed, with about 18g each — the same amount as a Twix Xtra or four McVitie’s Chocolate Digestive.

Zoe Davies, a nutritionist at Action on Sugar, told MailOnline: ‘Cereal bars with added protein may seem healthy, but they often contain high levels of sugar that are detrimental to our health.

“Despite the “no added sugar” labels often added to these products, they probably use processed fruit in the form of juices and purees, which is still the kind of sugar we should cut back on.

“Instead, we can “dismantling” these bars and grab a handful of nuts, whole fruit, and plain yogurt for a healthy snack or to start our day.”

Dr. Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and researcher at Aston Medical School in Birmingham, told MailOnline that food manufacturers can claim their product is a source of protein or high in fiber if it contains a certain percentage of that nutrient.

Dr. Mellor said, “While this may seem like a good thing, it says nothing about other things in the bar, like sugar and salt.”

‘In the UK it is not necessary for the total product not to contain a high level of added fat, sugar or salt for a claim to be made about a nutrient.

“These, along with marketing terms like ‘raw’ – which simply means minimally heated – and ‘natural’, do not reflect the nutritional composition of the food.”

But the public often associates these words with a product that is healthy, he cautioned.

So packaging that implies an item is healthy should be treated with caution,” said Dr Mellor.

People should consider eating nuts or seeds as a snack in their original form, rather than baked into a bar, which requires other ingredients, such as sugar, he added.

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, an expert in nutrition at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that breakfast cereals and protein bars are ‘probably often seen as healthy, regardless of their actual composition’.

“I guess this consumer perception is the biggest problem here,” he said.

Professor Kuhnle: ‘It is very often assumed that ‘healthy’ food (such as muesli bars and fruit juice) should also contain less sugar and energy.

That is clearly not always the case.

‘Traffic light labels can help consumers make better choices here.’

How high in calories is YOUR favorite bar?
Product Calories Sugar Egg white
Child Protein Dark Chocolate Nut Bar 274 8.6 12
Eat Natural Raw Protein Bar Peanuts Almond & Cocoa 243 6.8 9.7
Eat Natural Bars Maple Syrup Pecan & Peanut 240 5.9 8.3
Eat Natural Yoghurt Bar Almond & Apricot 238 15.6 3.3
Delicious Ella Peanut Butter Oat Bar 230 10.6 5.1
Eat natural protein bar 229 8.4 10.2
Eat natural easy vegan bars 223 10.1 5.4
Eat Natural Protein Packed With Salted Caramel 223 8.9 11.7
Eat Natural Protein Packed With Salted Caramel 223 8.9 11.7
Quaker Porridge To Go Mixed Berries 218 8.3 3.4
Kind of protein crunchy peanut butter bars 218 6.7 10
Quaker Porridge To Go Cinnamon Bar 218 6.6 3.5
Eat Natural Raw Fruit & Nut Bar Hazelnut Dates Peanut 216 12.6 5.1
Graze Cocoa Vanilla & Egg White Flapjack 216 4.3 7.2
Eat Natural Dark Chocolate Cranberry & Macadamia Bars 215 15.9 2
Fulfill Chocolate Hazenut Whip Vitamin Protein Bar 214 1.9 20
Delicious Ella Apple And Raisin Oat Bar 213 14.5 2.8
Fulfill Peanut Butter Vitamin Protein Bar 212 1.8 20
Fulfill White Chocolate Peanut & Caramel Vitamin Protein Bar 211 2.1 20
Cadbury Nuttier Peanut & Almond Bar 206 9.7 6.2
Tesco Pumpkinseed Almond & Dark Chocolate Bars 204 5.6 7
Meet Salted Caramel Vitamin Protein Bar 204 1.7 20
Cadbury Nuttier Cranberry & Almond Milk Chocolate Bar 201 11 5.5
Nature Valley Protein Salted Caramel Nut Bars 200 5.4 10.3
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Oats & Chocolate Bars 199 11.3 3.7
Nature Valley Protein Chocolate & Peanut Bar 198 6.2 10.2
Nature Valley Protein Peanut & Chocolate Bars 197 6.2 10.2
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Variety Cereal Bars 196 11.3 3.6
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Oats & Honey 196 11.3 3.6
Eat natural bars of apple, ginger and dark chocolate 195 14.6 2.1
Nature Valley Granola Bars Maple Syrup 195 11.3 3.6
Ermine Porridge Bars Blueberry & Honey Bars 178 9 3.2
Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Chocolate Chip 177 17 2.1
Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Raisin 170 18 1.9
Belvita Baked Bar Cranberry & Hazelnut 168 9.8 2.2
Belvita Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Baked Bar 166 10 2.3
Go Ahead Fruit Crispy Slices 162 11.1 2.4
Nakd Cashew Cookie Bars 155 13.7 3.5
Tesco 6 coconut and chocolate bars 150 7.8 2
Nakd Peanut Delight Bar 149 13.6 4.8
Fulfill Chocolate Salted Caramel Vitamin & Protein Bar 148 1.2 15
Nakd Cocoa Orange Bar 146 13.6 3.9
Tesco oat & honey muesli bars 145 5.5 2.2
Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nuts Peanut Bars 143 5.8 3.7
Mcvitie Go Ahead Yoghurt Breaks Strawberry 142 12.6 1.8
Go Ahead Yoghurt Breaks Forest Fruits 142 12.6 1.8
Graze Honey And Oat Bar 142 4.1 4.7
Fulfill Chocolate Brownie Vitamin & Protein Bar 142 1.1 15
Meet Peanut & Caramel Vitamin & Protein Bar 141 1.5 15
Fulfill Chocolate Caramel Vitamin & Protein Bar 140 1.4 15
Tesco Peanut Munch Bar 139 8.6 2.3
Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Dark Chocolate With Nuts 139 6.6 3
Nakd Bakwell cake bar 138 16 2.6
Cadbury Brunch Bar Chocolate Chip 137 8.8 2
Nakd Berry Delight 136 16.6 3
Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Strawberry 136 12 1.6
Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Blueberry 136 12 1.6
Nakd Cocoa Delight 135 15.9 3.3
Tesco Strawberry Fruity Baking 135 12.9 1.4
Tesco Raisin Munch Bar 135 10.6 2
Nakd almond macaroon 134 17.5 2.4
Nakd Lemon Drizzling Bars 133 17.7 2.1
Cadbury Brunch Bar Raisins 133 10 1.7
Tesco Salted Caramel Munch Bars 133 9.6 2.2
Graze Fiber Oats boost Cherry Bakewell 131 3.8 1.9
Graze Protein Oat Boost Peanut Butter Flapjacks 131 2.6 4.3
Nakd Blueberry Muffin Bar 130 18.2 2.5
Graze Chocolate Cookie Oat Boosts 130 2.9 2.2
Nakd Salted Caramel 128 18.2 2.3
Go Ahead Apple bakes 128 7.8 1.2
Mcvitie Go Ahead Strawberry Bakes 128 7.4 1.2
Graze Protein Oat Boost Lemon Blueberry 128 3.8 1.8
Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Cranberry 125 6.7 2.5
Nature Valley Fruit and Nut Cereal Bars 125 6.6 2.5
Nakd Double Cocoa Chocolish 119 14 2
Jordans Frusli Wild Berries 119 8.7 1.6
Alpen Strawberry & Yoghurt Cereal Bars 119 8.1 1.6
Nakd Fruit & Nut Bar Raspberry Chocolish 119 1.45 1.9
Jordan’s Frusli Blueberry Burst 116 8.8 1.8
Jordans Frusli Bars Cranberry & Apple 115 8.2 1.8
Nakd Berry Bliss Bar 99 14.4 1.9
Nakd Cocoa Twist Bar 99 13.8 2.1
Nakd Apple Danish Bar 98 14.9 1.8
Nakd banana bread bar 94 13.2 1.8
Fiber One Peanut Butter Popcorn Bars 90 4.2 1.6
Fiber One Protein Cookies & Cream Bars 88 1 10
Fiber One Protein Caramel Bars 87 1 10
Fiber One 90 Chocolate Mint Brownie 84 4.5 1.2
Kellogg’s Special K juicy red berry bars 83 5.8 1.3
Fiber One Chocolate Fudge Brownie Reduced Sugar 83 4.9 1.1
Fiber One Milk Chocolate Popcorn Bars 83 4.7 1
Special K Milk Chocolate Bars 78 5 1.4
Alpine Light Chocolate Brownie Flavor 68 3.2 1
Alpen Light Chocolate & Fudge Bar 67 3 1.1
Alpen Light Cereal Bar Chocolate Raspberry Shortcakes 67 2.7 1.1
Alpen Light Cereal Bars Salted Caramel 66 3.2 1
Alpen Light Cereal Bars Jaffa Cake 66 2.9 1
Skinny Crunch Light Raspberry & White Chocolate 66 2.7 0.8
Alpine light summer fruit bars 65 3.4 1
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