Protein bars are really not as healthy as people think, research shows
Almost 40 percent of protein bars list chocolate as their main ingredient.
Protein bars are really not as healthy as a lot of people seem to think they are, new research has shown.
A recent study conducted by Safefood shows that many protein bars sold in Ireland contain added sugar and salt, while also being high in saturated fat.
38 percent of protein bars have chocolate as their main ingredient, while 77 percent are high in saturated fat and 79 percent are a source of salt.
Despite this, one in three Irish people still consider protein bars to be "healthy."
Safefood's director of human health and nutrition Dr Catherine Conlon said that during a six year period, there was an almost 500 percent increase in the amount of "high-protein" products appearing on the market.
"From bars to milks and yoghurts, high-protein foods have now become mainstream in our supermarkets," she said.
"When we asked people about protein bars, a third of them thought they were healthy. However, many of these bars are, in reality, highly processed foods with a calorie content similar to that of a bar of chocolate."
Dr Conlon added that men and women in Ireland are already consuming more than enough protein in their diets, "and simply don’t need this extra, highly processed protein."
The report considered 39 protein bars as well as over 40 "high protein" products including yoghurts, yoghurt-style products and milk drinks.
Dr Conlon said that such products often need to be combined with fat and sugar in order to make them taste good, but that there are many other sources of protein that men and women should be consuming instead.
“People would be better sticking to natural sources of protein in their diet, which tend to be much healthier," she said.
"And if you need a source of protein as a snack, alternatives like some nuts, a small glass of milk or a yoghurt is the way to go instead of these foods with added chocolate.”
Safefood's full report can be found here.