KIND Snack Bars Under Scrutiny – Here’s What We Think the FDA Completely Overlooked

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Arthur Hsu

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Arthur Hsu

If you’ve ever ransacked a grocery or convenience store shelf for a quick snack, chances are you’ve seen KIND bars. Their packaging, complete with clear plastic windows, messages transparency in ingredients, while the labeling and marketing touts the bar as a healthy choice.

As it turns out, recent scrutiny in the form of a letter from the FDA has called out that four of KIND’s bars do not comply with FDA requirements regarding the amount of saturated fat content found in a “healthy” product and therefore cannot bear the “healthy” label or marketing speak.

According to the FDA, in order for a product to be labeled “healthy,” it must have fewer than one gram of saturated fat per serving. The saturated fat content in KIND bars are as follows:

KIND is now tasked to change its language and marketing speak around those four bars, to avoid them being pulled from store shelves.

The Saturated Fat Debate

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, are found in items such as coconut oil, milk, cheese, red meat, poultry, fish.

The debates and research are ongoing for saturated fat.

Most of us are familiar with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation of keeping your saturated fat limit to no more than 10 percent of your total calories.

One of the flavors of KIND bars the FDA has asked to change from being called "healthy" by the company. Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Mike Mozart

One of the flavors of KIND bars the FDA has asked to change from being called “healthy” by the company. Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Mike Mozart

However, recent research, such as this study from NCBI, has found that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.

In a recent new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found:

  • People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who followed a low-fat diet
  • Saturated fat combined with lower carb intake does not make your cholesterol go up
  • Saturated fat combined with lower carb intake could actually help your heart, in comparison with using a low-fat diet

This recent research, coupled with the knowledge that the government updates its Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, highlights something important for consumers to understand: The guidelines the FDA governs by may be based on outdated claims. In fact, the latest report from the advisory committee for those guidelines does indeed point to research supporting the inclusion of nuts in a healthful diet.

KIND Bars: What We Think the FDA Overlooked

The most alarming ingredient in these bars that was actually not addressed* in the FDA’s letter is the sugar.

One of the flavors under scrutiny holds 14 grams of sugar, which equates to 3.5 teaspoons sugar per bar/serving. The daily recommended allowance from the World Health Organization is 6-9 teaspoons, which means one of these KIND bars contains over half of your daily allowance of sugar, according to our calculations. That was only on one of the four flavors that were flagged by the FDA – we did some digging and it turns out there are other KIND bars with more than 14 grams of sugar.

According to the documentary Fed Up, most Americans consume an average of 41 teaspoons. That’s over five times the recommended daily allowance.

Sugar comes in many different forms – whether it’s labeled as glucose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, brown rice syrup. evaporated cane sugar, or brown sugar. The truth is that all sugars, regardless of how they are labeled, have an effect on the body when it comes to producing insulin and raising blood sugar levels.

Sugar is digested into glucose and can contribute to inflammation, a.k.a. the body’s response to internal damage. (FYI other forms of carbohydrates also digest into glucose and can contribute to inflammation – read about the difference between fast and slow digesting carbs here). Too much inflammation can lead to cardiovascular diseases, Metabolic disorder complications such as fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and Type 2 Diabetes, and bone and muscular diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis.

Bottom Line

Even when it comes to food labels, someone is trying to sell you something.

Technically, the FDA is correct – according to their guidelines, these KIND bars don’t qualify to be labeled as “healthy” and the consumer deserves to know. So they’re not “FDA healthy.”

So the question to ask may very well be just this: How much value do you put in what someone else labels your food, vs. actually reading the full list of ingredients, and then educating and deciding for yourself?

Read your ingredients and understand the role nutrition facts play. Know what’s in your food.

How WellnessFX can help

For more posts on these topics, check out:

When it comes to dietary fat, cholesterol and your health, you’ll want to monitor your LDL, HDL, Total Cholesterol, and Triglycerides, as well as your omegas, to identify your areas of risk.

We recommend an assessment of these via a biomarker testing in order to have an accurate picture of where you (and total health) are. Your blood cells regenerate every 120 days, so we recommend re-assessment every 4-6 months, after instituting new habits.

Get a Heart Health Test

*While glucose syrup was mentioned, the infraction the FDA stated was in reference to the non-GMO label applied, rather than the amount used.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.