Grab-and-go bars put to the test

Consumer Reports testers find tasty, healthy options

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When you find yourself eating on the run, snack bars can make a perfect grab-and-go snack. They're portable and tasty, and you feel like you're making a healthier choice. But experts at Consumer Reports say if you're satisfying your hunger with a snack bar, choose wisely.

Testers evaluated two dozen in strawberry, chocolate, and peanut butter flavors. It doesn't matter whether they're called a protein bar, a cereal bar, or a granola bar, Consumer Reports found big differences in nutrition. And there are big differences in taste, too, even within brands.

Take the Clif Builder's 20-gram Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar. It tastes vitamin-y, chalky, and gritty. Nutritionally, more than half the fat is saturated, and although the bar is larger than most, it is the most expensive tested at $1.30 per serving. But its sibling, the Clif Crunch Chocolate Chip Granola Bar, cost less than half that. It rated good for nutrition, and very good for taste, with honey notes and crispy, toasted grains.

When it comes to the two Nature Valley bars, they were consistent for flavor. Sweet and Salty Nut and Crunchy Oats 'n Dark Chocolate rated very good for taste, though they weren't the best for nutrition. So make sure you take a moment to check a bar's label before you grab and go.

If you're looking for a snack bar with a lot of fiber, as many people do at breakfast-time, pick a bar with fiber in its name. Consumer Reports' tests found that one from Kellogg's, the Fiber Plus Antioxidants Chewy Chocolate Chip bar, scored good for taste and very good for nutrition.

All Consumer Reports material copyright 2013 by Consumers Union of U.S. Inc.  All rights reserved. Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.