Are Quaker Chewy Granola Bars Good for You?

Here’s a “good for you” snack, according to its manufacturer, Quaker Oats, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. Granola bars enjoy a health halo due to the fact that they are from “granola”. From the box:

Good source of calcium (10% of daily value per 40 grams). 0g Trans fat (See nutrition facts for saturated fat content). Great taste and Quaker goodness rolled into every bar. Quaker Chewy Granola Bars are made with the goodness of Quaker Oats.

Quaker Chewy Granola bars are now made without high fructose corn syrup.

With all these advantages, is this a product a healthful, wholesome snack or is it closer to a candy bar? We set out to discover…

What you need to know:

The chewy bars are not too big – less than 1 ounce (25 grams). Each is just 100 calories, contains 3 grams of fat, 0 trans fat (NOT REALLY – keep reading), and only 7 grams of sugar. That’s just over 2 teaspoons of sugar, compare with 4 teaspoons for a comparable sized Snickers bar. Despite the whole oats, only 1 gram of fiber in here.

Here’s the ingredient list (don’t you hate the capital letters – make it really hard to read):

GRANOLA (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, BROWN SUGAR, CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT], WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND COTONSEED OILS* WITH TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL WITH NATURAL TOCOPHEROL ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS, DRIED COCONUT, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SODIUM BICARBONATE, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NONFAT DRY MILK), SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA EXTRACT), CORN SYRUP, CRISP RICE (RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, BARLEY MALT, SALT), INVERT SUGAR, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, GLYCERIN, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL*. CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SORBITOL, CALCIUM CARBONATE, SALT, WATER, SOY LECITHIN, MOLASSES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), CITRIC ACID.

The company boasts no high fructose corn syrup, and indeed it does not appear in the list. But we do have 8 appearances of sugar in other forms here (all underlined). Plus one appearance of a sugar alcohol – sorbitol – less calories than sugar, with the added benefit of flatulence for some people. Trans-fat IS PRESENT, despite it being labeled as zero.Whenever you see partially hydrogenated oils, that means there is trans-fat in the product. The label disclaims:

*ADDS A DIETARILY INSIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TRANS FAT

But that’s like saying smoking just 2 cigarettes a day is insignificant.

Additional interesting ingredients include TBHQ and BHT, preservatives of dubious nature; natural and artificial flavors – which always leave a consumer wondering; and calcium carbonate, added to make the product a “good source of calcium”, and thus sexier to health conscious consumers.

In all, there are 43 (!) ingredients in this tiny, yet heavily processed snack bar. Good for you?

What to do at the supermarket:

Conclusion – If you want a candy bar, take a Twix or Snickers any day and enjoy the sinful bliss. If you want healthy – take a look at the less processed Lara bars and even Clif bars.

Get Fooducated

  • Sarah Hortman

    Great article! So many cereals and granola bars are basically like a candy bar combined with a vitamin and mineral supplement. Kashi has an ample selection of cereals and bars that are chock full of whole grains, increasing their fiber content, no artificial ingredients and include other tasty ingredients high in antioxidants like cherries and dark chocolate. Clif Kids ZBars are also a better choice for on the go snacks. We pass them out after our kids sporting events instead of the candy that seems to have become so main stream for some parents to offer. ~ Sarah Hortman, RD

  • http://www.betterschoolfood.org Dr. Susan Rubin

    The are really good for your dentist!
    Chewy, sticky gummy granola bars are a great cavity causing snack.
    Wash it down with some Gatorade or Diet Pepsi, make your dentist rich!

  • http://www.betterschoolfood.org Dr. Susan Rubin

    Speaking without my dentist hat on, let me add that cotton is not a food, high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 oils, and laden with pesticide residues.
    http://www.drsusanrubin.com/cotton-food/

    That hydrogenated soybean oil is another ingredient that does not belong in anyone’s diet.
    This product falls into the hazardous category in my book!
    http://www.drsusanrubin.com/the-top-ten-hazardous-ingredients-you-wont-find-in-my-house/

  • Mike

    You should have a post on the different of “high fructose corn syrup” vs. corn syrup. I figure HFCS is, as the name implies, higher in fructose than corn syrup, but what is the deal with regular corn syrup? Companies often put both in their products, is there a reason for it? (Why not just use more HFCS or more CS?) Is there a “benefit” to CS? If I saw something say “Now with no HFCS!” but saw CS as an ingredient, wouldn’t I suspect that they are pretty similar things since they are both sugary syrups from Corn? What are the fructose levels of CS?
    Thanks! I think it would be really interesting to write about the differences of the two and how companies use them

  • Robin White

    I was asked to post my granola bar recipe. It’s kind of a work in progress, I’m always tweaking the recipe. My kids are runners so I’m always looking to feed them nutritionally dense food. My husband has congenital hypertension and cholesterol issues, so I incorporate ingredients that address these as well.

    Here goes:

    1/2 c. light olive oil
    1/2 c. honey
    2 tsp. vanilla
    1 lg. egg
    2 c. old fashioned oats
    3/4 c. whole wheat flour
    1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
    1/2 c. sliced almonds
    1/2 c. wheat germ
    1/4 c. ground flax seed
    1/4 c. nonfat dried milk
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 c. raisins, dried cranberries or any dried fruit
    1/2 c. chopped dark chocolate

    Prepare 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Mix liquid ingredients in small bowl. In larger bowl combine dry ingredients, then pour liquid ingredients over and mix well. Pat it down into the pan (wet hands work best.) Bake at 359 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown at the edges. Cool and cut to size (makes 24) Store tightly sealed.

    I just put them into snack-sized zipper bags (which of course we re-use ;-) ) and my husband and kids take them for lunch or snacks at meets or practice. I usually double the recipe, with 5 kids they go fast! :-)

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

      @Robin – awesome! Got any pics you can send us of the end result?

  • Robin White

    @Editorial Staff
    LOL Not today, we’re depleted from the weekend and it’s so hot and humid here there’s no way I’m turning on the oven! :-)

  • L

    There’s also a great ‘playgroup granola bar’ recipe on allrecipes.com … sub applesauce for 1/2 the oil and use all whole wheat pastry flour. My kids love choosing their own add-ins (we like dried cherries, coconut, and choc chips).

  • http://rebeccassite.net Rebecca

    I’d rather eat Zone Perfect bars than eat Quaker chewy bars anymore.

  • http://www.lovehealthyliving.net Carrie (Love Healthy Living)

    I’m glad to see someone posted a recipe for homemade granola bars. Just compare the ingredient lists and see which one you want to feed your kids!

  • bill

    Why but a Clif bar or any other protein bar when you can make your own too? Any of these recipes will do:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=346329

    Personally I make mine with natural PB, sugar free jello pudding, chocolate whey, oats and milk. Sometimes I’ll add wheat germ or flax too it.

    • blah

      Because my time is worth more than the cost to simply buy the protein
      bar. Aside from that, a company that produces protein bars has
      significantly more experience in doing so than me and further
      efficiencies are created by them producing them in bulk. Why don’t I
      just do what I do best and leave the protein bar creation to the
      experts?

  • Mendy Heaps

    I’m always looking for good “treats” to give my students. Fruit is my usual choice, but now I can offer them a granola bar and feel pretty good about it. Thanks for the recipe, Robin!

  • Manu

    thanks, great information – these granola bars seemed to tasty to be healthy :-)
    will stick to the un-tasty ones for my evening craving

  • kristy

    This is awful, they are misleading the public. Have you guys contacted Quaker to demand an explanation?

  • Badonkadonk

    Hmmm I’m not too sure anybody that has actually tasted a Quaker Chewy bar really considers it healthy.

    It tastes great, doesn’t taste like asshole flavored home-made health bars. If you want to eat healthy, eat healthy. 

    But thank you for pointing out the preservatives…I have never heard of them

  • http://www.eldolordeespalda.com/ dolor de espalda

    Quaker produces a great selection of chewy granola bars such as chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip and cookies and cream. Now with the new variety out on the market, you can enjoy 

  • Sophia Anne Wise

    I just pray over the food and keep going. We have to eat something. My great Aunt ate a normal balanced diet, including chocolate and she lived to 108. People in my family live to the 80′s 90′s and 100′s so I’m not going to sweat over a granola bar too much.