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: What It Means to Be Healthy: The Curious Case of KIND Bars

What It Means to Be Healthy: The Curious Case of KIND Bars

Online Media Specialist

In my hand, right now, I hold a KIND bar. Okay, that's not true, I hold a once-frozen burrito but this morning, I held a KIND bar. I've eaten KIND bars since COSTCO started stocking them in bulk. Fortunately for me, I've read enough research studies to learn to mistrust much of the advertising statements on packaging. All I need to know is on the ingredients list and nutrition label. I try to know what all the ingredients are, how they're produced, and how a body will digest them. Throw in making sure saturated fat is less than one third of total fat, and bam! You've got yourself a snack. Most of the KIND bars sold fall in line with my demands, but the ones with a nut base tend to blow fat content out of the water.

The FDA has also picked up on the high fat content in several kinds of the bars and issued a warning letter to the company to stop using the word healthy on four of its products. If you think my "healthy" standards seem strict, then the conditions the FDA puts in place for companies to legally use the word healthy on its packaging will make your head spin.

In order for a food to be labeled healthy, "…it must have no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, no more than 15 percent of calories coming from saturated fat, no more than 480 mg sodium, and contain at least 10 percent of the daily value for vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber. "

Each of the four KIND bar flavors called out contain between 2.5 and 5 grams of saturated fat.

But the fact that the FDA is taking away the healthy label, doesn't necessarily mean the bars are unhealthy. The issue, again, all goes back to the bars that contain nuts. The latest research has shown that not all fat, particularly from nuts, is bad fat. High-fat nuts may even help control our appetites and keep our weight down as a result. Since the standards also only apply to packaged, processed food, it's hard for the FDA to distinguish if the fat in the bar is coming from the nuts or the oil also included on the ingredients list. This means that the FDA practice of lumping all fat and saturated fat together may be an outdated one.

"Most of the fats in our bars come from nuts and are actually monounsaturated fats (good fats)," Joe Cohen, senior vice president of communications told the Huffington Post. "Nuts do contain a small amount of unsaturated fats. The saturated fats in our bars come from a mix of ingredients nuts, coconut or palm oil."

The bottom line is that you should be able to read a nutrition label, and not rely on marketing. It's a pain, but keep up with research from qualified professionals so you can spot claims that may not be accurate. Health experts suggest learning the different types of nuts and what qualifies as a snack verses a meal replacement. The FDA is not wrong for regulating the use of the word healthy in advertising. No one wants to see candy bars become a health bar, and they certainly shouldn't be a snack replacement bar.

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