Here Are The Best (And Worst) Muesli Bars

Plus easy tips to help you make the right choice.

14/07/2016 5:39 PM AEST | Updated 16/07/2016 5:38 AM AEST
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The shorter the ingredients list the better.

Muesli bars are one of the best snack options, especially when you're on the go. They're compact, super delicious and easy to eat with one hand (passing the ultimate snack test).

However, although the name 'muesli bar' sounds pretty healthy, the majority of the time they are full of added sugar and are too low in fibre to keep you full for long.

Picking a healthy muesli bar option can be easy -- you just have to know what to look for.

"Muesli bars can be a fantastic snack option. They are relatively inexpensive, convenient and can be a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre," dietitian Kaitlyn Bruschi told The Huffington Post Australia.

"A healthy muesli bar can help fill you up and keep you full until your next meal. This means you are less likely to over eat and turn to the fat and sugar laden 'treats' we all start searching for when hunger gets the better of us. Long term this means better health and more energy.

"However, they can also be loaded full of kilojoules if you do not choose carefully."


Ignore the health claims on the packet

To find the right muesli bar, Bruschi recommends ignoring all the "all natural", "nature", "no added sugar", "lite" and "organic" words and claims.

"With the vast array of muesli bars on the market it can be a challenge to find the right muesli bar for you," she said.

"Firstly, ignore most of what is written on the front of the package. In Australia, we only have loose rules governing nutrition claims manufactures can make on product labels, meaning much of this information is just marketing hype."

Look at the nutrition information panel

Instead, flip the box over to find the nutrition information panel and figure out the sugar, sat and fibre content.

"Double check that one serve is equal to one muesli bar, then all you need to do is find a bar that is ideally less than 600 kilojoules per serve, and also aim for one -- per 100 grams -- with less than 1.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 15 grams sugar and more than four grams of fibre."

Tetra Images - Jamie Grill
Reading the nutrition label is the most truthful way of gauging a product's nutrition.

Check the ingredients list

Checking the ingredients list is another great way of checking whether a muesli bar is the right choice. Aim for the first ingredient to be whole grains such as "whole grain oats" and for sugar to not be in the first few ingredients.

Keep an eye out for nuts and dried fruit

When checking the nutrition information panel, it's important to keep in mind that when a muesli bar contains nuts and dried fruit (two healthy additions), it will bump up the fat and sugar content, respectively.

"The biggest issue with muesli bars is that if they contain nuts, they are going to contain higher amounts of fat. Similarly, if they contain dried fruit, they are going to have a higher sugar content," Bruschi told HuffPost Australia.

"However, these are good fats and the sugars [in dried fruit] come with so many other nutrients that the cons are definitely outweighed by the pros."

Nuts are high in fibre, healthy fats, protein and an array of vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, zinc and more.

The best way to see if a product contains nuts and dried fruit (and to figure out if the high sugar or fat content is from this) is, again, to check the ingredients list.

"If the product doesn't have nuts or dried fruit and the energy levels are still high, you know it's not a great option," Bruschi said.

Bypass the protein bars

As for protein bars? According to Bruschi, you're better off sticking with a higher protein muesli or nut bar.

"Protein bars can fill us up and help meet the requirements of those who need a protein boost, particularly for those who aim to limit their carb intake. However, they are just that: protein, with little additional nutritional benefits," she explained.

"Why not choose a muesli bar made on nuts, or even just a small handful of unsalted nuts? This will give you comparable protein levels with the added benefit of fibre, healthy fats and other essential nutrients."

If you are going to choose a protein bar, Bruschi recommends to just double check it has less than 600 kilojoules per serve to avoid overeating.


The six best muesli bars

1. Goodness Superfoods fibre boost cranberry and cut cereal bars

"These are low in sugar and packed full of fibre," Bruschi said. "Fat content is a little high but saturated fat is low, meaning most of the fat in these bars is healthy fat from the nuts."

2. Carman's original fruit free muesli bars

These muesli bars are high in fibre and low in saturated fat and sugar.

3. Weight Watchers apple crumble bar

"These bars are low in fat and high in fibre," Bruschi said. "They're good for a sweet treat in the afternoon."

4. Carman's roasted nut bar in almond, hazelnut and vanilla

"These are packed full of protein and fibre, and are a great alternative if you are looking for a protein hit."

5. Uncle Toby's farmer's pick in fig and apricot

"Similar to other bar recommendations, these are high in fibre and protein, and low in saturated fat."

6. Freedom Foods crunchola chewy bar in apricot, coconut and chia

"High in fibre and low in sugar, and well under the 600 kilojoule limit," Bruschi said.

These aren't so much a muesli bar as a candy bar. Sigh.

The bottom five muesli bars

1. Coles fruit filled bars in mixed berry flavour

"While these are low in fat, they are 40 percent sugar," Bruschi told HuffPost Australia.

2. Nature Valley sweet and nutty in peanut

"These bars contain 13 grams of fat per bar, plus they're packed full of sugar."

3. Tasti mega nuts in peanut butter

"With a layer of chocolate, you know these are going to be high in energy," Bruschi said.

4. LCMs rice bubbles split stix yoghurty

"Don't make the mistake of thinking the addition of yoghurt makes this option any healthier -- they contain over 10 grams of saturated fat per bar."

5. Nice and Natural roasted nut bar in chocolate

"This is a perfect example of the use of marketing on packaging," Bruschi said. "Not a great snack option."

But the best muesli bar of all? One you've made yourself.

Play around with different flavours, colours and textures for delicious homemade muesli bars.

"Making your own is definitely a great option. It would go a long way to cut down on the massive ingredient lists some of these products have," Bruschi said.

Try these five ingredient muesli bars or coconut almond bars.

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