Are Kind bars healthy?
The company’s website says Kind bars are made only with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.
But does that mean Kind bars are healthy or good for you? Kind bars are gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO, which is quite promising. But one look at their ingredient list tells a different story.
On the surface, it may seem that Kind bars are healthy. But a deeper dive into the brand’s sneaky marketing tactics and suspicious food labels says otherwise.
Kind bars, like many other granola bars (including Clif Bars and Lara Bars), are packed with sugar (as well as questionable ingredients), and contain little fat.
So, are Kind bars healthy? It’s time to find out.
What the FDA Says About Kind Bars
To start, you can’t discuss whether or not Kind bars are healthy without defining what “healthy” means. Here’s how the FDA weighs in on Kind’s health claims. Back in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration, also known as the FDA, sent a nine-page warning letter to the makers of Kind bars.
In it, they claimed four bars, in particular, did not meet the FDA’s requirements for being “healthy”[*]:
- Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot
- Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut
- Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein
- Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants
As such, Kind manufacturers were no longer allowed to use the term “healthy” on the labels of those four bars. But there’s a critical caveat you should also consider: The FDA’s definition of “healthy” is questionable.
For a food item to be considered healthy in the FDA’s eyes, it must have one gram or less of saturated fat, and it can’t have more than 15% of its calories from saturated fat.
By this rule, nuts, coconuts, and avocados can’t be labeled “healthy” since their fat content is more than 15% of their calories.
As you can see in the good fats vs. bad fats guide, saturated fats are healthy fats — as long as they’re from the right sources, such as the three previously listed foods.
- Improve your triglyceride levels.
- Maintain healthy bone density.
- Boost your immunity system.
- Aid in weight loss.
- Reduce the risk of strokes.
- Support creation of important hormones like cortisol and testosterone.
- Raise HDL (“good” cholesterol) in your blood to prevent buildup of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in your arteries to improve your overall HDL/LDL ratio.
In one study of close to 350,000 participants, scientists learned there was “no significant evidence” for associating dietary saturated fat with increased risks for heart disease[*].
And though one tablespoon of coconut oil contains 11 grams of saturated fat, half of that comes from lauric acid, which has been shown to lower LDL and raise HDL[*].
Here’s one benefit of Kind bars: most of the bars in question contain plenty of nuts. Whole nuts are one of the healthiest sources of saturated fat. (Check out the pros and cons of nuts on a keto diet.)
In one 30-year study, researchers noticed that people who ate just a handful of nuts every day were 29% less likely to have heart disease and had a 20% lower death rate[*].
Nuts are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. They can boost your energy levels, help you lose weight, and provide portable, crunchy fiber.
And highlighting the benefits of nuts is precisely how the Kind team responded to the FDA[*]:
“Nuts, key ingredients in many of our snacks and one of the things that make fans love our bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the FDA’s standard. This is similar to other foods that do not meet the standard for the use of the term healthy but are generally considered to be good for you like avocados, salmon, and eggs.”
Does that mean Kind bars are, in fact, healthy?
And if they’re full of saturated fat, does that mean they’re also keto-friendly?
The Problem With Kind Bars
With Kind bars, it’s not the saturated fat that’s the problem.
The real issue is the amount of sweeteners in these bars.
These are the labels of five randomly bars selected from the brand’s most popular categories to show you what’s lurking behind the Kind label.
#1: No Sugar Added Kind Bars
The “no sugar added” claim on the label is slightly misleading.
Yes, technically, no sugars were added while manufacturing this food. But that doesn’t mean it’s free from sugars. In fact, with this Mango, Apple, and Chia Kind bar, it’s just the opposite[*].
One bar clocks in at 21 grams of sugar and 31 grams of total carbs. Since most of you aren’t used to seeing grams of sugar in real life, here’s a quick conversion: One teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to 4 grams of sugar. This bar, in particular, contains over 5 teaspoons of sugar.
Keto or not, there’s no reason for a supposedly healthy bar to deliver that much sugar in one small snack. That’s like drinking a soda or eating a candy bar — and even worse in some cases.
Sure, it’s nice you can pronounce the ingredients — mango, apple, and chia seeds are familiar. But this bar still has way too much sugar for anyone to be consuming at once, even if the sugars are from fruit. Not only will this bar send your blood sugar levels through the roof, but it can also cause you to crash shortly after and leave you craving more sweets and carbs.
#2: Low Glycemic Index Kind Bars
The glycemic index is a measurement of how much a particular food raises your blood glucose levels[*]. Foods with higher amounts of carbs give your system a high glycemic load and are appropriately titled as such. They flood your system rapidly and give you drastic spikes in blood glucose.
Low glycemic foods don’t act this way.
There are fewer spikes and drops in your insulin as your blood sugar rises and declines more gradually. To optimize your health, you should aim to eat foods with the lowest possible glycemic impact.
But does that mean this so-called low glycemic Kind bar is safe to eat?
Again, not so fast.
This Almond and Coconut Kind bar has 5 grams of sugar[*]. While that may seem low compared to the 21 grams in the previous bar, this is still over a teaspoon of sugar.
Imagine, for a second, eating a straight teaspoon of sugar. You would never think to do that, yet that’s what you’re getting with this bar.
Now think about what a teaspoon of sugar does to your blood glucose levels.
Here’s the other issue: there are only 5 grams of sugar, but there are 4 grams of sugar alcohols if you look closely. That means only 1 gram of sugar is naturally found in the bar while the other 4 grams have been added using a three-part concoction of honey, sugar, and glucose syrup.
This bar also has two other interesting ingredients: soy lecithin and chicory root fiber. Chicory root fiber is a plant-based fiber your body cannot digest. It’s also cheap, clocks in at zero calories, and has a naturally sweet taste[*].
That’s why manufacturers commonly add chicory root fiber to their bars — it’s a low-cost way to bulk up their bar’s fiber count while adding some calorie-free flavor.
Here’s the downside: Since it’s technically a prebiotic fiber, meaning the bacteria in your gut can feed — or ferment — on it, it may also give off gas as a byproduct of this natural process.
That’s why both large and small does of chicory root fiber may cause:
- Gas and flatulence
- Abdominal pain and cramping
If you have a sensitive stomach or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), these issues can worsen even if you eat just a small bite. So, is this Kind bar genuinely healthy?
Between the added sugar and cheap filler, probably not.
The next two bars on the list can also be misleading if you’re not careful, especially because of those same sweeteners, additives, and fillers.
#3: High Protein, Fiber, and Sugar
While eating a high amount of protein is not a keto goal, you may be tempted to use a bar like this next one to meet your protein quota for the day[*].
But don’t let the 12 grams of protein trick you into overlooking the rest of the stats. With 12 grams of protein comes 8 grams of sugar (which is equivalent to 2 teaspoons) and an equal amount of net carbs (12 grams).
This is more than half of your daily amount if you’re shooting for 20 grams of carbs each day. What’s worse is that you should never eat the same amount of net carbs as protein in one sitting.
The same happens with this high-fiber version[*]:
For a measly 6 grams of fiber, you’ll need to trade off 11 grams of sugar.
You can get that same amount of fiber — and zero added sugar — by eating 1 ½ cups of broccoli. In addition to sugar, honey, and glucose syrup, this Kind snack also adds in tons of dried fruit, including dried cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Talk about a sugar bomb.
#4: Bars With 5 Grams of Sugar or Fewer Still Aren’t Healthy
Even in the 5 grams of sugar or fewer category, these Kind bars employ the three-sweetener combo (sugar, honey, and glucose syrup) as the backbone of added sugars.
You’re talking about an entire teaspoon of sugar here for a whopping 9 grams of net carbs in a snack. Because of that, this next question usually comes up when talking about Kind bars and the ketogenic diet.
Are Kind Bars Healthy on Keto?
Technically, you could include some of these Kind bars in your daily macro goals, even on keto — but they’re by no means healthy.
They don’t belong in your diet if you don’t want to consume more than half of your carbs and sugar for the day in a tiny bar without real nutritional substance.
The answer is clear for most: Kind bars are not worth it.
Be Kind to Yourself and Find a Better Bar
Don’t settle for a Kind bar if you don’t have to.
There are better snacking options, many of which are keto-friendly. Try the Perfect Keto nutrition bar, which:
- Is made with clean, keto-friendly, high-quality ingredients
- Doesn’t spike your blood sugar
- Is packed with 10 grams of grass-fed collagen
- Tastes like dessert