Kind Bars: The Short Version
After meeting nice people from Kind Bars at the Against the Grain Festival I said I would share my opinion of them. The bars. Not the people. The people were very nice and enthusiastic about their brand and product though, which is always nice to see.
But onto the products – a range of gluten-free snack bars.
If you have room in your diet for some snack bars, which snack bars are best? And what does best look like?
- Nicest tasting?
- Lower in Sugar?
- Lower in Salt?
- Ingredients you can recognize as actual food?
- A macronutrient profile featuring protein, carbohydrate, fibre and fat, just like a meal?
If these are some of your criteria then Kind Bars should be on be on your radar, and possibly in your cupboard, rucksack, suitcase or carry-on luggage. Against each of the criteria above they score well and compare well to alternatives many of which go much higher on the sugar, include some curious ingredients and are more heavily weighted towards carbohydrate alone.
Kind Bars: Taste and Texture
One feature I really like about Kind Bars is the sensory pleasure of the bars. Like many I really enjoy the “crunch factor” of certain foods. Something that gives that really satisfying, deep crunch when you bite that makes you pay attention to what you are eating. Kind Bars hit the crunch factor sweet spot for me and then transition into a satisfying chewiness with pleasing and notable flavours.
One of the Kind Bar packaging claims is “Real ingredients you can see”, so let us take a close look.
So, the issue is that yeah, Kind Bars are also pretty tasty :-P
Kind Bars: Nutrition, Are they Good For You?
I offer the nutritionist-style answer here. That is an interesting question. Very few foods should be characterized as good or bad. Instead we need to look at the whole diet. My own template is plant-based and whole foods based with a strong preference for ingredients rather than food with ingredients or as Michal Pollan has named them, “food like substances”.
All Kind Bars feature nuts all but one (Almond and Coconut) feature dried fruit as the main ingredients. Chicory root fibre and sugar are also common ingredients, sometimes chicory root appearing first and sometimes the sugar.
Another key point is that the 7 different bars in the range present very different macronutrient profiles.
|Lowest (per 100g)||Highest (per 100g)|
|Protein||7.9g – Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cashew||18g – Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate|
|Fibre||6.2g – Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate||18g – Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt|
|Sugar||10g – Madagascan Vanilla Almond||34g – Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cashew|
All taste nice to me. I do not have a clear favourite but I do prefer to limit added sugars and get lots of fibre so I would naturally choose options like the Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate and the Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt. World Health Organization recommendation is for adults to limit free sugars to less than 10% (about 50 grams) of their energy intake with 5% (about 25 grams) being even better.
At 34g per 100g the highest-sugar Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cashew bar actually delivers 14g of sugar per bar and the Madagascan Vanilla Almond delivers just 4.1g sugar per bar. The Madagascan is already delicious so that helps lock it in as one I would prefer.
There is space in my diet available for Kind Bars. I am not going to eat them every day. I am going to feel absolutely comfortable with having them as convenient, tasty snack which I can easily carry around with me on the go and have available at home to offer to guests. If I were a guest, I would choose a Kind Bar over a cookie. I regret that no one has yet offered me a Kind Bar whilst I have been their guest . . . :P
Kind Bars: The Really Interesting Thing Going on with Kind Snacks and the US FDA
Here is the cliff-notes version of how Kind Bars are making headlines, and possibly prompting real change
- For years Kind Bar packaging has featured the message “Healthy and Tasty, Convenient and Wholesome”
- In 2015 the US FDA told Kind they could not include the claim ”Healthy” on 4 of their Bars
- This was because the Bars in question, all featuring nuts, exceeded 3g of fat, or 1g or saturated fat per serving
Now, the most recently issued UDSA Dietary Guidelines emphasize a “shift towards other protein foods” including more nuts and seeds.
So . . you know, consuming protein and fats from nuts and seeds is encouraged but products that actually include nuts cannot be described as “Healthy” because they contain too much fat. . . hmm, see a problem?
In response to the FDA demand Kind Bars removed the claim from all their packaging but also began a process to challenge the validity of the FDA definition of healthy. As of April 2016 FDA have actually told Kind they can re-apply the “Healthy” claim.
I dare to hope this will be followed up by a revision to the guidelines that the FDA are following. I live in the UK so you might ask why I care? Well, I observe and believe that the US guidelines directly influence UK guidelines and that international media coverage of guidelines influences perceptions, understanding and behaviours across borders.
As of May 2016 Kind Bars are available in Tesco, Waitrose, Wholefoods and Nutricentre.
Like Kind Bars? Don’t like them? Think something else deserves attention? Tell, tell tell