LUNA Bars are marketed as a healthy choice for women. But many protein bars today are hiding a lot of sugar and processed junk behind their healthy marketing claims. So today, let’s take a closer look at LUNA Bars and check—are they really healthy?
LUNA Bars are made with healthy whole-grain oats, with around 8g of plant-based protein and 3g of fiber per bar. However, most flavors also have 8g of added sugar per bar. They also contain processed vegetable oil and rice flour. This makes them only moderately healthy.
Below, we’ll dig into the details of LUNA Bar nutrition. We’ll look at the sugar, protein, sodium, and fiber content. We’ll explore whether they’re good for weight loss and more!
Are LUNA Bars Good for You?
Here are the 8 main questions I’ll be answering about LUNA Bar nutrition. Click to skip to any section—or just keep reading below:
- What Are LUNA Bars Made Of?
- How Much Sugar Do LUNA Bars Have?
- Are LUNA Bars High in Protein?
- Are LUNA Bars High in Sodium?
- Are LUNA Bars High in Fiber?
- Are LUNA Bars Whole Grain?
- Are LUNA Bars Good for Weight Loss?
- Are LUNA Bars Vegan?
1. What Are LUNA Bars Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at some LUNA Bars ingredients. Below is a table with 3 popular flavors, just to get a good sample.
I’ll share my analysis below the table:
|LUNA Bar Flavor||Ingredients|
|LemonZest||Protein Grain Blend (Rolled Oats*, Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour*, Roasted Soybeans*, Soy Flour*), Brown Rice Syrup*, Cane Sugar*, Chicory Fiber Syrup, High Oleic Sunflower Oil*, Vegetable Glycerin, Palm Kernel Oil*, Palm Kernel Solids*, Soy Flour*, Natural Flavors, Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Glucose Syrup*, Soy Lecithin*, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Pectin, Sodium Bicarbonate. (*Organic Ingredient)|
|Blueberry Bliss||Protein Grain Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Rolled Oats*, Rice Flour*, Roasted Soybeans*, Soy Flour*), Brown Rice Syrup*, Cane Sugar*, Apple Puree Concentrate*, Apple Juice Concentrate*, High Oleic Sunflower Oil*, Chicory Fiber Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Kernel Solids*, Soy Flour*, Dried Blueberries, Blueberry Puree*, Apple Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Palm Oil*, Rice Starch, Soy Lecithin*, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Elderberry Juice Concentrate* (For Color), Sunflower Lecithin*. (*Organic Ingredient)|
|Nutz Over Chocolate||Protein Grain Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Rolled Oats*, Rice Flour*, Roasted Soybeans*, Soy Flour*), Brown Rice Syrup*, Peanuts*, Cane Sugar*, Peanut Butter*, Chicory Fiber Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Peanut Flour*, Palm Kernel Solids*, High Oleic Sunflower Oil*, Natural Flavors, Cocoa*, Palm Kernel Oil, Sea Salt, Soy Lecithin*, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant). (*Organic Ingredient)|
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- LUNA Bars are made with whole grain oats. Oats have healthy soluble fiber, and they can help lower cholesterol. But most granola bars have oats, so this isn’t too special.
- LUNA Bars have multiple sugars and syrups. These processed sweeteners include brown rice syrup, cane sugar, and glucose syrup. Some other ingredients, like the fruit concentrates and rice flour, likely add to the glycemic load, too. We’ll take a closer look at LUNA Bar sugar content below.
- LUNA Bars contain vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is high in calories and, typically, highly processed. Specifically, LUNA Bars have high-oleic sunflower oil, palm kernel oil, and sometimes palm oil. Palm oil is higher in saturated fat, which most health organizations recommend limiting. (LUNA Bars have about 2.5g to 4g of saturated fat per bar.)
- LUNA Bars contain quite a bit of soy. Soy is generally considered healthy by credible authorities. However, there is controversy when it comes to processed soy ingredients like isolated soy protein. And LUNA Bars have quite a bit of it. So, many people may consider this a negative.
- LUNA Bars have added sea salt. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and raise disease risk over time. LUNA Bars aren’t crazy high in sodium, but some flavors have twice as much as others (up to 170mg per bar). More on sodium below.
- Most LUNA Bar ingredients are organic. Organic ingredients can still be unhealthy, but they often have more antioxidants and less risk of contamination with pesticides and heavy metals. So it’s a positive.
- Some LUNA Bars have peanut butter or other nut ingredients. Peanut butter and nuts are high in calories—but research shows health benefits, including for longevity and weight management. Nuts are satiating, as a whole-food source of mostly unsaturated fat.
Overall, the ingredients for LUNA Bars are a mix of good and bad. They have healthy whole grains and other organic ingredients. But they also have quite a bit of processed sugar and oil.
- Are LUNA Bars “processed food”? LUNA Bars are generally considered processed food. Along with healthy whole-food ingredients like rolled oats, they also have around 7 to 11 grams of added sugar per bar, along with vegetable oil, protein isolate, and added salt.
2. How Much Sugar Do LUNA Bars Have?
Most LUNA Bars have 7 to 11 grams of total sugar per bar, with most of that being added sugar. The main sweeteners used in LUNA Bars are brown rice syrup and cane sugar. LUNA Bars have about 24 to 29 grams of total carbs per bar, so they are not low-carb or keto-friendly.
Below is a table showing the sugar content for a variety of LUNA Bars flavors:
|LUNA Bar Flavor||Total Sugar||Added Sugar|
|Nutz Over Chocolate||7g||6g|
|Chocolate Dipped Coconut||9g||8g|
|Chocolate Peppermint Stick||8g||7g|
|Mash-Ups: LemonZest + Blueberry||11g||10g|
Interestingly, the lowest-sugar flavor of LUNA Bars I found was “Nuts Over Chocolate.” It sounds pretty decadent, but it’s got less sugar than the others.
How does this sugar content compare to other popular protein bars and energy bars? Comparing the total sugar per serving, LUNA Bars have:
- Less total sugar than Clif Bars (17 to 21g per bar)
- Less total sugar than Larabars (13 to 20g per bar)
- Less total sugar than Perfect Bars (16 to 19g per bar)
- Less total sugar than RXBARs (13 to 18g per bar)
- Less total sugar than GoMacro Bars (10 to 15g per bar)
- Less total sugar than Nutri-Grain Bars (12 to 13g per bar)
- Similar sugar as Nature Valley Bars (6 to 12g per serving)
- More or similar sugar as Kashi Bars (5 to 11g per serving)
- More or similar sugar as Quaker Chewy Bars (5 to 7g per bar)
- More sugar than Kind Bars (5g in many bars)
Disclaimer: All these numbers may vary depending on specific products, countries, and other variations. Also, the source of sugar may differ (natural vs refined sugar). Do your own research to confirm the sugar content you’re happy with.
Personally, the amount of total sugar in most LUNA Bars seems borderline too high for me. I’ve noticed that I seem to get more acne when I eat much sugar at once.
That said, I’m more strict than most people when it comes to sugar. LUNA Bars are not that high in sugar compared to other many popular bars.
- Are LUNA Bars low glycemic? LUNA Bars are marketed as having a low-glycemic index. They are listed in the “Low Glycemic” section on the Clif website, too. But I was unable to find any primary research directly on LUNA Bars and GI. Based on the ingredients and sugar content, I would’ve guessed they would have a moderate glycemic load, not low.
3. Are LUNA Bars High in Protein?
Most LUNA Bars have 7 to 9 grams of protein per bar, mostly from soy protein. Although that is a significant amount of protein, some other bars have more than twice as much protein per serving. For example, CLIF Builders Bars have 20g of protein per bar.
Most of the calories in LUNA Bars come from carbs, with the second-most coming from fat. However, the soy isolate does add a decent amount of protein.
Here is a table showing the protein in various LUNA Bar flavors:
|LUNA Bar Flavor||Protein|
|Nutz Over Chocolate||9g|
|Chocolate Dipped Coconut||8g|
|Chocolate Peppermint Stick||8g|
|Mash-Ups: LemonZest + Blueberry||7g|
If you’re trying to eat a high-protein diet, you can still find other bars and snacks with more protein yet. Here are two vegan options I like with 20 grams of protein in each bar:
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4. Are LUNA Bars High in Sodium?
Most flavors of LUNA Bars have between 80mg and 170mg of sodium per bar. This is within a common range for such protein and energy bars. The lowest-sodium flavors of LUNA Bars include Mash-Ups: LemonZest + Blueberry (80mg) and LemonZest (85mg).
Here is a table showing the specific sodium content for a variety of LUNA Bars flavors:
|LUNA Bar Flavor||Sodium|
|Nutz Over Chocolate||160mg|
|Chocolate Dipped Coconut||170mg|
|Chocolate Peppermint Stick||90mg|
|Mash-Ups: LemonZest + Blueberry||80mg|
As you can see, the highest-sodium LUNA Bars in this list has over twice as much as the lowest-sodium flavor. So choosing the right flavor is important if you care about sodium content.
For reference: The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to 2,300mg per day. But they are “moving toward an ideal limit” of only 1,500mg per day. That would still be more than 8 LUNA Bars of any flavor. So, LUNA Bars are not horrible when it comes to sodium.
If you want another good bar that is low in sodium, be sure to look at Larabars. Even the highest-sodium flavor only has 90mg of sodium per bar, and many flavors are completely salt-free.
5. Are LUNA Bars High in Fiber?
LUNA Bars have about 2 to 4 grams of fiber per bar, depending on the flavor. This is a common range for protein bars and energy bars. The highest-fiber flavor of LUNA Bar is Chocolate Cupcake, with 4g of dietary fiber per bar.
Here’s a table showing the fiber content of various LUNA Bars:
|LUNA Bar Flavor||Fiber|
|Nutz Over Chocolate||3g|
|Chocolate Dipped Coconut||3g|
|Chocolate Peppermint Stick||3g|
|Mash-Ups: LemonZest + Blueberry||2g|
6. Are LUNA Bars Whole Grain?
LUNA bars contain whole grain rolled oats. However, they also have processed ingredients like cane sugar, brown rice syrup, high-oleic sunflower oil, isolated soy protein, and rice flour. Therefore, a LUNA Bar would not be considered a “whole food” overall.
This is a common situation. Many processed foods contain a whole grain that makes them kinda healthy… but then you realize there’s a bunch of refined carbs and oil in it, too.
Most store-bought granola and granola bars are this way. Yes, they contain healthy rolled oats. But they also have quite a bit of sugar.
If you want truly healthy granola bars, the best option may be to make your own. You can use fruit to provide the sweetness. Look up “healthy granola bar” or “whole food granola bar” recipes online.
If you’re looking for a healthy store-bought bar, I think Larabars are one of the best. Most flavors only have a few simple, whole-food ingredients. They still have high total sugars for some people, but most of the sugar comes from fruit.
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7. Are LUNA Bars Good for Weight Loss?
LUNA Bars are not the best snack for weight loss, as they contain high-calorie ingredients like cane sugar and high-oleic sunflower oil, sometimes with nuts or chocolate. To lose weight with LUNA Bars, you may need to diligently limit your portion sizes or count calories.
Remember: The most important thing for weight loss is calorie balance. And if you want to make weight loss easier, the best things to eat are foods with a low calorie density.
Low-calorie-density foods are typically high in fiber and/or water. They fill up your stomach and help you feel full on fewer calories.
Of course, compared to fresh produce, LUNA Bars don’t have much water. How about fiber? LUNA Bars have about average fiber for protein bars. So, not horrible, but not great.
The fact is that LUNA Bars are made with several calorically dense ingredients. These include sugar and other sweeteners, vegetable oil, and sometimes nuts or chocolate.
There are around 200 calories in a LUNA Bar. This is pretty standard for granola bars, but it’s high compared to whole plant foods. For the same amount of calories, you could have roughly 2 medium-sized bananas, or a huge bowl of vegetables.
You can obviously still lose weight while eating LUNA Bars. There is nothing inherently fattening about them. They will not automatically make you fat. That said, they’re not helping you lose weight.
One lower-calorie bar you can look at are Chewy Bars. They are not extremely healthy, either—but at least the serving sizes are smaller. For the healthiest snack, choose whole plant foods, like fresh fruit and veg or a handful of nuts.
- Are LUNA Bars Good For Weight Gain? LUNA Bars could be effective for weight gain, as they are relatively high in calories. However, your overall calorie balance is more important than any 1 specific food you eat. To gain weight, try to increase your portion sizes and total calorie intake.
8. Are LUNA Bars Vegan?
LUNA Bars are generally considered vegan. None of the eight flavors I checked contained any dairy, egg, honey, or other animal ingredients.
In fact, even the cane sugar in LUNA Bars should be vegan-friendly, to even the most strict vegans. Non-organic cane sugar is often filtered with animal bone char. But LUNA Bars are made with organic cane sugar, which is generally not filtered with bone char.
If you want to learn more, read my guide on “How to Check If Any Food Is Vegan: 3 Easy Steps (With Pictures).”
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