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The Best Nutrition Bar

September 19, 2013 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 3 Comments

There are a variety of healthier fruit and nut bars on the market now that boast dried fruit as a primary ingredient. Dried fruit is calorically dense, though. Should we be concerned that eating such bars may make us fat?

You may have noticed in the conclusion of the fig study I covered in Best Dried Fruit for Cholesterol that adding 14 figs to people’s daily diets did not lead to significant weight gain.

Wait a second.

That’s 300 calories of figs a day. Over 5 weeks that’s 10,000 calories. How did 10,000 calories disappear into thin air? Figs are so satiating and packed with fiber that even without trying people just end up eating less of other foods throughout the day. I get full just thinking about eating 14 figs!

Was that study just a fluke? Let’s look at the other new studies I covered. What about adding three quarters of a cup of dried apples to our diet every day for a year? Two hundred extra calories a day, but no significant change in weight. Two hundred extra calories of prunes a day for a year? No significant change in weight and same thing with a month of a daily 300 calorie load of dates.

In general, the 5-10% of Americans that average a tablespoon or more of dried fruit a day tend to be less overweight, less obese, and have a slimmer waist with less abdominal obesity. They tended to eat more, but weighed less.  Similar findings were found for those that eat nuts and nut butters, lower body mass index, slimmer waist, and significantly less excess weight and obesity. See my video Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. The various mechanisms are summarized in Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories and explored further in a four-video series:

What if you put dried fruit and nuts together? What would be the effect of adding daily fruit and nut bars on top of one’s regular diet for two months? Researchers took about a hundred folks who were overweight and randomized them into two groups. Half ate their regular diet, and the other half ate their regular diet plus two fruit and nut bars a day, totaling an extra 340 calories. But these weren’t candy calories; these were largely whole plant food calories, dried fruits and nuts.

Two daily fruit and nut bars for two months did not cause weight gain. And they had additional sugar in them (they were KIND brand bars). Maybe that may be why the participants’ cholesterol didn’t get better despite the nuts, which should have helped. I highlight some brands in my 3-min video Do Fruit & Nut Bars Cause Weight Gain? with no added sugar, but it’s even cheaper to just concoct one’s own trail mix and eat dried fruits and nuts on their own.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2014 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, and From Table to Able.

Image credit: miriamwilcox / Wikimedia Commons

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Dr. Michael Greger

About Michael Greger M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

View all videos by Michael Greger M.D.

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  • Darryl

    I’m hoping prominent nutritional biochemist Bruce Ames releases his nutrient dense CHORI-bar in a vegan formulation. The CHORI-bar was designed by the Ames lab and USDA food scientists to ameliorate nutritional deficiencies in children at risk, and has some novel innovations, but alas the current formulations use whey protein as a binding agent.

    The story of the CHORI-bar
    The research
    The patent

  • Reuven Rosenberg

    Another great article, but I have an editing suggestion on this sentence: ” Maybe that may be why the …” Instead try, “That could be the reason why the…”

    :)

    • Name

      Try “That could be why…”

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