Protein bars, breakfast bars, really anything in bar form just makes sense in our dine while dashing society. The question is, what is it you're really eating? Most of these bars claim to offer healthy, wholesome energy, but what you may not have realized is that the process to create "soy protein isolate," which is often a primary ingredient in protein bars, utilizes a toxic solvent called Hexane.
Hexane is an industrial waste by-product of gasoline that, according to the EPA, can cause polyneuropathy in humans. Hexane is primarily used as a solvent to extract edible oils from seed and vegetable crops, such as soybeans, as well as a solvent for glues, varnishes and inks. Hexane is also used as a degreaser in the printing industry and as the liquid in low temperature thermometers.
Sounds yummy, doesn't it? So, if you're wondering why you rarely see "organic" soy protein, this is one of the reasons. Additionally, soy protein typically comes from genetically modified plants. Even non-genetically modified raw materials may contain small amounts of GMO-parts, claims GMO-Compass.org, because a total separation of conventional and GM soybeans is technically impossible.
In an effort to help you make smart "bar" choices, I spent a few quality hours in Whole Foods researching just which bars you may want to avoid and which ones you might want to check out. I was surprised to find that the majority of bars available do not contain soy protein. It would seem the newer brands of bars are becoming more savvy in their ingredient offerings. I was impressed enough to walk away with a few bars of my own. Here's the lowdown.
Bars With Soy Protein:Kashi Go Lean:
Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Caramel contain soy protein.Odwalla:
Isolated Soy Protein is the #1 ingredient in their Original Super Protein Bar and their Chocolate Peanut Butter bar. Other flavors available did not contain soy protein.Honey Stinger:
Contains soy nuggets made up of soy protein isolate, rice flour, malt and salt
Contains soy protein nuggets.BalanceClif bars:
All bars available contained soy protein except Clif Kids bars.ThinkThin:
Their soy crisps are made from soy protein isolate.Powerbar/Powerbar Pria*NuGO:
Contains soy protein but claims to use orgainic hexane-free soy crisps.
Bars Without Soy Protein:Kind:
The Blueberry Pecan bar, for example, is full of fruits and nuts, non-gmo glucose, chicory fiber and 5 grams of protein.18 Rabbits:
A granola bar with such fun flavors like Cheeky Cherry Chocolate and Haute Diggity Date. They're one of the lowest in sugar at 12 grams.Perfect Foods:
One of my favorites! Look for it in the refrigerated section.Vega Whole Food Energy Bar:
Is made from raw alkaline plant-based superfoods such as hemp protein.Pro Bar Superfood Slam:
Is a whole food meal bar with organic acai and wheat grass, 7 grams of protein and lots of fruits like papaya and pineapple.Garden of Life:
Their Organic Super Seed bar contains 18 sprouted grains including spelt and offers a probiotic blend.Thunderbird Energetica:
Their Cherry Walnut Crunch is made with sweet potato, turmeric and Hawaiian black lava salt. Unique, to be sure! I found them on the bottom shelf, so you may have to search for it.Raw Organic Food Bar:
One of quite a few products that are specifying non-GMO ingredients. This one also comes with quinoa. My interest is piqued.Vibrant Health:
While their Green Vibrance Original Meal Bar sounds appealing with almond butter, honey, carob, cherries, raisins and sunflower seeds and dark chocolate, nowhere on the label do they describe the "Green Vibrance" ingredient. Although green in the health food industry usually brings to mind positive images, there are a lot of green things I wouldn't want to stick in my mouth.Greens:
Their Peanut Butter bar is full of super foods and exciting ingredients like organic alfalfa grass, Echinacea root extract, Siberian eleuthero root extract and Montana bee pollen but not a lot of protein. Their Daily Mocha Mantra, which contains hemp protein, was highly recommended by Eric, the Whole Foods employee, because it's delicious and high in Omega 3's.Larabar:
Very clean with few ingredients. My favorites are Banana Bread and Apple Pie.Raw Revolution:
Their Chocolate and Coconut offers organic flax seeds, 7 grams of protein from cashews, sunflower seeds and almonds.
Although it seems that companies are starting to use better ingredients, it's always important to read food labels. Just because you buy it at the health food store doesn't mean it's healthy.