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cereal bar

Are cereal bars healthy?

04 Mar 2022 • 6 min read


Cereal bars are great for popping in your pocket or bag and snacking on when you get peckish.

They’re also great if you’re running behind in the morning and haven’t got time to make yourself some breakfast.

But what’s the real deal with cereal bars? Are the ‘healthy’ granola bars we see on the shelves and online good for us?

Or should we be more mindful of how many cereal bars we reach out for on a daily/weekly basis?

We caught up with one of our nutritionists, Amrit Kaur Khaneja, to get the lowdown on cereal bars, including what to look out for on ingredients lists, how they compare to other breakfast snacks and just healthy they really are.

Are cereal bars healthy?

Increasingly busy lifestyles mean cereal bars are seen as being an ideal on-the-go breakfast solution, but it’s best to be cautious when shopping around for them.

While many of these bars may be marketed as being healthy, some actually happen to contain high amounts of hidden sugar and saturated fat. On top of this, they’re also low in fibre.

This means that despite all the health claims, many cereal bars aren’t as healthy as they like to make out they are.

They highlight the good ingredients without really giving the nasties and refined carbohydrates a mention, which means it’s really easy to think they’re much healthier than they actually are….

What are the ingredients to watch out for/avoid?

There’s a huge variety of cereal bars available in shops, supermarkets and online, which means choosing the healthiest one can be tricky because there are so many different options to choose from.

Where possible, steer clear of bars that are high in:

Sugar and saturated fat

You can spot them because they’re the cereal bars that have been coated in chocolate or yoghurt, which may be tasty, but really ramps up the added sugar content.

Yoghurt-coated varieties also tend to contain saturated fats from palm oil, which can have a negative impact on heart health.

When it comes to the sugar content, choose bars that contain no more than 4 to 5g (just over 1 teaspoon) of sugar per bar.

Simple carbohydrates

Make sure you select bars that contain complex carbohydrates, such as oats, nuts and seeds too.

Avoid anything that contains simple carbohydrates, for instance, cereal bars with rice puffs or refined cereals.

They can make your blood sugar levels rise because the sugar enters the bloodstream quickly.

This sharp spike in blood sugar is rapidly followed by a sharp drop, resulting in low energy levels and hunger pangs.


  • Many cereal bars are marketed as being healthy, but they aren’t that healthy in reality
  • Some contain high amounts of hidden sugar and saturated fat
  • Certain bars are also low in fibre

How do cereal bars stack up against other breakfast snacks?

Cereal bars are usually a healthier alternative to chocolate bars. However, they are still a sweet snack and you should take the time to choose the right one.

Because of their unhealthy levels of sugar and carbs, cereal bars aren’t actually an ideal breakfast; they’re more of a sweet treat alternative.

Oat and nut-based bars with a high fibre and protein content, that are low in sugar and saturated fat, are a much better – and healthier - breakfast snack compared to other snack options.

Homemade granola bars

The best (and healthiest) way of making sure your cereal bars are low in sugar and carbs and full of fibre is to make your own!

That way, you know exactly what’s in them, and they can be tailored to your specific dietary needs.

Like the idea of making your own? Take a look at the healthy snack bars recipes (sweet, savoury, vegan and more) in this article, ‘How to make healthy granola bars.’

What are the best ingredients for fuelling your day?

You can’t go wrong by starting your day with a combination of nuts, oats and seeds.


Packed full of nutrients, oats are a whole grain food consisting of slow-releasing carbohydrates, fibre and protein.

They are also a good source of B vitamins and minerals, such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and zinc.


Are a good source of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. For example, Brazil nuts contain almost 100% of the recommended daily allowance of selenium.


Although small, seeds are nutrient powerhouses. They’re rich in natural fats, fibre and vitamins and minerals. For example, flaxseeds and chia seeds are full of omega 3 fats and fibre.


  • Cereal bars are usually a healthier alternative to chocolate bars
  • They aren’t an ideal breakfast snack, but more of a sweet treat alternative
  • Oat and nut-based bars are a much healthier breakfast snack

Our top 9 of the best cereal bars for you to try

Read on for our top 9 best cereal bars...

  1. Clif Chocolate & Macadamia Bar 12 x 68g (£21.00)

Clif bars are delicious energy bars to take with you on a 150-mile bike ride, exploring a new trail or simply looking for a nutritious snack to help keep you going.

Key benefits

  • Packed with wholesome ingredients
  • Provide a mix of whole grains, protein and fibre
  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

Customer reviews

Hanj18 – Best vegan goodie ever! – 5/5 stars

“Tasty, filling and luscious. Ideal for vegans, dairy-free and sporty people; I highly recommend these Clif bars. You can eat them any time of the day!”

  1. Clif White Chocolate Macadamia Bar 68g (£1.79)

Clif Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Energy Bars are exploding with roasted Macadamia nuts and the taste of scrumptious white chocolate.

Key benefits

  • Packed with wholesome, organic ingredients
  • Provide a mix of whole grains, protein and fibre
  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

Customer reviews

Soledad – The only bar that will do – 5/5 stars

“My husband is a keen cyclist and hiker; these are the only bars that taste good and don't melt in his pocket while he's on his bike.”

  1. Nature Valley Oats & Honey 42g (69p)

Packed with natural wholegrain oats and real honey, Nature Valley™ Crunchy Oats & Honey bars are the perfect on-the-go snack that is there for you, whenever you need them most.

Key benefits

  • Provide a mix of whole grains, protein and fibre

Customer reviews

Keah – Crunchy tasty goodness – 5/5 stars

“Long-time favourite crunchy, sweet and perfect snack.”

  1. Deliciously Ella Baked Oat Bar Peanut Butter 50g (£1.19)

Rich, nutty and delicious, these peanut butter oat bars are filled with chunks of roasted peanuts and creamy peanut butter for an amazing crunch and texture.

Baked in small batches, and a source of fibre, they’re a perfect all-day snack.

Key benefits

  • Source of fibre
  • Gluten-free
  • Suitable for vegans

Customer reviews

SophMoor – Delicious healthy snack – 5/5 stars

“These bars are perfect for an afternoon snack! They are packed full of flavour and I love the fact they only contain natural ingredients.”

  1. Nature Valley Protein Peanut & Chocolate 40g (99p)

This gluten-free better-for-you snack contains 20% of your daily protein needs and 40g of carefully-selected ingredients, such as wholesome natural peanuts, tempting chocolate and luscious peanut butter, making it a great on-the-go snack for your next adventure.

Key benefits

  • High in protein and fibre
  • No artificial colours
  • No preservatives
  • Suitable for vegetarians

Customer reviews

Anonymous – Amazing – 5/5 stars

“Nicest protein bar I’ve ever had.”

  1. Trek Salted Caramel Protein Flapjack 50g (£1.19)

These naturally-filling protein cereal bars are no ordinary flapjacks. They’re packed with 9g of plant-based protein and slow-release energy from gluten-free oats.

Key benefits

  • Wheat free
  • Gluten-free
  • Packed with plant-based protein
  • Vegan-friendly

Customer reviews

Anonymous – Love this bar! – 5/5 stars

“They taste amazing and are a good way to start the day!”

  1. KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt 120g (£1.99)

Whole nuts drizzled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt - it’s a simple recipe, but it’s packed with flavour. And with only 6g of sugar, you can satisfy your cravings without thinking twice.

Key benefits

  • Contains 60% nuts
  • Gluten-free
  • High fibre
  • No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives

Customer reviews

Swiflet – Delicious! – 5/5 stars

“I just love these bars. For a quick boost, they are delicious and crunchy and are really satisfying.”

  1. Nakd Cocoa Orange Fruit & Nut Bar 35g (99p)

Nakd Cocoa Orange Fruit & Nut are an all-natural bar made with no added sugar, gluten, wheat or dairy. These bars contain just raw fruit and nuts and are so smooth, they melt in your mouth.

Key benefits

  • GM-free
  • No added sugar
  • Contains no artificial ingredients

Customer reviews

Suziblew – Great taste – 5/5 stars

“I really enjoyed these energy bars when I spent days walking in the hills.”

  1. Sunita Sesame Honey Bar 30g (79p)

Key benefits

  • Made with 60% sesame seeds
  • Only 2 ingredients - sesame seeds and honey, with nothing extra added
  • Sweetened with honey only

Customer reviews

Louelle – Delicious snack – 5/5 stars

“I like this snack very much. There are many different kinds, but I love this one because it's not too sweet.”


Not all cereal bars are as healthy as they make out they are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them.

You just need to scrutinise those ingredient lists that bit more and steer clear of bars that are sky-high in sugar and simple carbs and low in fibre.

Fortunately, there are lots of healthy cereal bar options out there, including the 9 we’ve listed above. Don’t forget, you can also make your own too!

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 4 March 2022

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