Ah, Nature Valley bars—they get crumbs all over the place, but they’re delicious! The name “Nature Valley” sounds pretty harmless, too. But today we’re taking a look at the nutrition behind the bar. Are Nature Valley bars actually healthy?
Nature Valley bars contain whole grain oats and other healthy ingredients like dried fruit and nuts. However, many of their bars have at least 10 grams of added sugar per serving. They also have processed ingredients like canola oil and rice flour. This makes them not the healthiest choice.
Below, I’ll look at the sugar content of two of Nature Valley’s most popular product lines. I’ll also dive into protein content, fiber, overall ingredient quality, and much more!
Are Nature Valley Bars Good for You?
Below are seven questions I’ve answered about Nature Valley nutrition. Click to skip to any section, or just keep reading:
- What Are Nature Valley Bars Made Of?
- Are Nature Valley Bars High In Sugar?
- How Much Protein Do Nature Valley Bars Have?
- Are Nature Valley Bars Good for Weight Loss?
- Are Nature Valley Bars Whole Grain?
- Do Nature Valley Bars Have Fiber?
- Are Nature Valley Bars Vegan?
1. What Are Nature Valley Bars Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at some ingredients. Nature Valley has many different bars, but we’ll look at two of the most popular kinds: The Crunchy Granola Bars and the Fruit & Nut Bars.
Here are the ingredients for one of their Crunchy bars:
Peanut Butter Crunchy Granola Bars: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Canola Oil, Peanut Butter (peanuts, salt), Rice Flour, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin.
And here are the ingredients for a Fruit & Nut flavor:
Dark Chocolate & Nut Fruit & Nut Bars: Whole Grain Oats, Corn Syrup, Semisweet Chocolate Chunks (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural flavor), Roasted Peanuts, Raisins, Rice Flour, sugar, vegetable Glycerin, Canola Oil, Fructose, Corn Starch, Soy Lecithin, salt, Barley Malt Extract, Baking Soda, Natural Flavor, Vitamin E (mixed Added to Retain Freshness.
Here’s what I notice about the ingredients:
- They’re 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.
- They contain nuts. Both of these bars have peanuts or peanut butter. Technically, peanuts are legumes, not nuts. But they have most of the same health benefits as nuts (as long as you’re not allergic).
- They have multiple sugar ingredients. In both bars, you’ll see multiple sugary sweeteners. These include corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar syrup, and fructose. (The rice flour, corn starch, and barley malt extract likely add to the glycemic load, too.)
- They contain processed oil. Both of these bars have canola oil, which is not the worst oil—but it’s not the best either. It is typically highly processed, using hexane and extreme heat.
Overall, Nature Valley Bars are a mix of healthy whole foods with processed sugar and oil. So, they are not purely good or purely bad.
After reading the ingredients, I’m most concerned about the sugar content. So let’s look at that next.
2. Are Nature Valley Bars High In Sugar?
Nature Valley’s Crunchy Granola Bars have 10 to 12 grams of sugar per serving (two bars). Their Fruit & Nut Bars have 6 to 8 grams of sugar per serving (one bar). Nature Valley Bars have less sugar than Clif Bars but more sugar than most Kind Bars.
Below I’ve made tables showing the total sugar content of each flavor of these Nature Valley Bars.
For the Crunchy Granola Bars, each serving has two small granola bars. So the sugar content is for two small bars—not just one. Also take note that almost all the sugar in the Crunchy bars is added sugar:
|Crunchy Granola Bar Flavor||Sugar|
|Maple Brown Sugar||12g|
|Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate||12g|
|Oats ‘n Honey||11g|
|Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate||12g|
Those sugar levels are pretty similar to GoMacro bars, and a bit lower than Larabars. But they’re practically double of what Kind Bars usually have.
Next, let’s look at the Fruit & Nut Bars. Those are wrapped individually, and a serving size is one bar. So the sugar is for just one bar:
|Fruit & Nut Bar Flavor||Sugar|
|Cranberry & Pomegranate||6g|
|Dark Chocolate & Nut||8g|
|Dark Chocolate Cherry||8g|
Keep in mind that some of the sugar in Fruit & Nut bars is natural, from fruit. However, in most of the flavors, it’s only ~2 grams of sugar from fruit. The rest is from added sugar.
Overall, I consider Nature Valley Bars to have moderate sugar content. The Fruit & Nut Bars have less sugar than the Crunchy Granola Bars… but that’s mainly just because the serving size is smaller.
3. How Much Protein Do Nature Valley Bars Have?
Most Nature Valley bars contain only 2 to 4 grams of protein per serving. However, Nature Valley Protein bars have 10 grams of protein per bar. And Nature Valley “XL Protein” bars have 15 grams of protein per bar.
Nature Valley’s Crunchy Granola Bars have 3 to 4 grams of protein per two-bar serving. Meanwhile, their Fruit & Nut bars have even less—only 2 to 3 grams of protein per bar. So unless you’re getting the “Protein” bars specifically, you’re not getting much protein.
In fact, Nature Valley’s non-protein bars have even less protein than Larabars. That’s quite low, as Larabars are mostly just nuts and dates.
When you look at Nature Valley’s actual Protein bars, you’ll notice they are not vegan. The added protein is partially whey protein, and the flavors I checked also had other milk ingredients.
Nature Valley actually has two different “levels” of protein bars, though. Most have 10 grams of protein per bar. This includes their Chewy and Crunch protein bars. However, the “XL Protein” bars have 15 grams of protein per bar.
If you’re really trying to get the most protein per bar, you’ll find other bars with more protein yet. Here are two vegan options I like with 20 grams of protein each:
4. Are Nature Valley Bars Good For Weight Loss?
Nature Valley bars are not ideal for weight loss, as they are relatively high in calories. They contain high-calorie ingredients like sugar and canola oil, often with nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate. To lose weight with Nature Valley bars, you’d likely need to cut 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 water. They fill up your stomach and help you feel full on fewer calories.
Unfortunately, most Nature Valley Bars don’t have much fiber or water. The Crunchy Granola Bars only have 2 grams of fiber per serving. That’s only half of the fiber in a half cup of rolled oats.
The fact is that Nature Valley Bars are made primarily of calorically dense ingredients. These include sugar and other sweeteners, canola oil, and often peanut butter, dried fruit, or chocolate.
There are around 200 calories in each two-bar Crunchy Granola bar pack. This is pretty standard for granola bars, but it’s high when compared to whole plant foods. For the same amount of calories, you could have roughly 2 medium-sized bananas.
You can obviously still lose weight while eating Nature Valley bars. There is nothing inherently fattening about them. They will not automatically make you fat. That said, they’re not helping you lose weight.
- Are Nature Valley Bars Good For Weight Gain? Nature Valley Bars could be effective for weight gain, as they are relatively high in calories. However, your overall calorie balance is what’s most important. To gain weight, try to increase your portion sizes and total calorie intake.
5. Are Nature Valley Bars Whole Grain?
Nature Valley bars contain whole grain oats. However, they also contain processed ingredients like sugar, brown sugar syrup, canola oil, and rice flour. Therefore, Nature Valley bars would not be considered “whole foods” overall.
This is a common situation. Many processed foods contain a whole grain that makes them look healthy… but then you realize there’s a bunch of sugar and oil in it, too.
Most store-bought granola and granola bars are this way. Yes, they contain healthy rolled oats. But they also contain a whole bunch of sugar.
If you want truly healthy granola bars, the best option is usually to make your own. You can use fruit to provide the sweetness. Look up healthy granola bar recipes online.
If you’re looking for a healthy store-bought bar, I think Larabars are likely the best. They still have high total sugars for some people, but most of the sugar comes from fruit.
6. Do Nature Valley Bars Have Fiber?
All the Nature Valley bars I checked have between 2 and 8 grams of fiber per serving. Most of Nature Valley bars are on the low end of that range, with 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Here’s a list showing roughly how much fiber you can expect per serving from each of the Nature Valley product lines:
- Sweet & Salty Nut Bars: ~2g fiber or less
- Crunchy Granola Bars: ~2g fiber
- Fruit & Nut Bars: ~2g fiber
- Nut Bars: ~2g fiber
- Crunch protein bars: ~2g fiber
- Sustained Energy Bars: ~3g fiber
- Wafer Bars: ~3g fiber
- Soft-Baked Muffin Bars: ~4g fiber
- Chewy protein bars: ~5g fiber
- XL Protein bars: ~7g fiber
For exact nutrition facts on all flavors, refer to the Nature Valley website.
7. Are Nature Valley Bars Vegan?
Many Nature Valley bars are vegan, but not all of them. Here’s a quick overview of the most popular product lines:
- All flavors of the Fruit & Nut bars are vegan.
- Most flavors of the Crunchy Granola Bars are vegan. Just avoid the flavors with honey.
- No flavors of the Sweet & Salty bars are vegan (due to milk).
- No flavors of the Protein bars are vegan (due to milk).
Personally as a vegan, I have always gone for the Fruit & Nut bars or the Peanut Butter flavor of the Crunchy Granola Bars. However, I don’t eat Nature Valley bars very often. I prefer No Cow Bars.
Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey
1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).
2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.