‘Healthy’ protein bars not as good as we believe

Eating high-protein bars as a “healthy” alternative to other snack foods is not as beneficial as many of us think, new research shows.

‘Healthy’ protein bars not as good as we believe

Eating high-protein bars as a “healthy” alternative to other snack foods is not as beneficial as many of us think, new research shows.

High-protein bars, on average, are comparable to a standard chocolate bar in their calorie, fat, saturated fat, and salt content, according to analysis by Safefood.

Safefood surveyed 83 high-protein snack foods and drinks for sale in major supermarkets, discount and convenience stores in Cork and Belfast between March and April, 2018. These foods included protein bars, yoghurts, yoghurt-style products, and milk drinks.

The survey found:

  • 38% of protein bars contain chocolate as main ingredient;
  • 77% are high in saturated fat;
  • 1 in 3 people perceive them as being “healthy”;
  • The average bar size was 55g with an average price of €2.27, costing up to €3 each.

Dr Catherine Conlon, Safefood’s director of human health & nutrition, said people would be better off “sticking to natural sources of protein in their diet, which tend to be much healthier”.

“And if you need a source of protein as a snack, alternatives like some nuts, a small glass of milk or a yoghurt is the way to go.”

Safefood said there is “no evidence that population protein intakes are low”.

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