Are Kind Bars Healthy? What the FDA's Warning Means
A fruit-and-nut bar is a better choice than a chocolate candy bar, right? Well you won’t be finding the word “healthy” on either of them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that KIND adjust their labeling language. Specifically, they can no longer use the term “healthy” on four of their bars and throughout their website.
In the warning, the FDA singled out these flavors of KIND bars as having too much saturated fat:
- Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot (3.5g saturated fat, 3g fiber, 3g protein)
- Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut (5g saturated fat, 3g fiber, 3g protein)
- Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein (3.5g saturated fat, 7g protein, 2.5g fiber)
- Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants (2.5g saturated fat, 4g protein, 2.5g fiber)
A healthy snack, according to the FDA, is one with no more than 3g total fat or 1g saturated fat per serving and not more than 30% of calories from fat.
Well, there goes that dollop of peanut butter that made your afternoon apple just that much more delightful. With 1.7g saturated fat per tablespoon, that spoonful of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats is ineligible to be called “healthy” according to the FDA's standards.
The same goes for a hard-boiled egg (with 1.6g saturated fat), but it also happens to have a hearty 6g of protein. The bag of pretzels made from refined flour and sprinkled with 450mg worth of sodium from salt, however, can be … just as long as it’s not over 480mg. Because once those empty calories hit 480mg sodium (the amount in a McDonald's hamburger), they're no longer healthy.
Up until 2009, Cooking Light actually didn’t allow recipes with more than 30% of calories from fat to be published in the magazine (with a few exceptions – like salad dressings and nut mixes). We, like most other health professionals, felt that a lower-fat lifestyle was healthier. Think of all the salmon, nut, olive oil, and avocado-rich recipes we were missing out on! But once we reviewed the research and realized how beneficial some of those fats could be, we lifted that guideline. Heart-healthy fats are just that … they’re good for your heart.
What’s good about this is that we know the FDA is in fact regulating. They’re paying attention. And that’s good. What they aren’t doing well is keeping up with current research.
They’re a bit outdated, at least as far as nuts are concerned. Nuts are a healthy food and should be able to be labeled as such. The same goes for avocados, salmon, flaxseed, and olive oil. And while the KIND bars may be a bit over the FDA’s definition of healthy, they’re a good representation of portion control and certainly more healthy than a lot of the sugar-loaded granola and candy bars available on the market.
In an open letter to its public, KIND has responded that they are making labeling adjustments to the four snack bars and conducting a review of all of their snack food labels to ensure compliance with the FDA. You can read about it here, while snacking on your bag of inconspicuously healthy nuts.