Healthiest snack bars for kids put to the test

We know snack bars are a staple for many kids, but some options are healthier than others. Consumer Reports put several to the test.

Like many moms, Chris Wood gives her middle schoolers snack bars a few times a week.

"Well they're easy to pack in their backpack or their lunchbox, and a quick snack after school before they come home," she said.

Consumer Reports' nutritional experts evaluated the ingredients and nutritional information for 12 different snack bars for kids.

They looked for natural vs. added sugars, whole vs. refined grains and natural protein sources, such as nuts and seeds or whole grains, rather than processed sources like isolated soy protein.

"Ideally, snack bars should consist mainly of whole foods and less processed ingredients," said Ellen Klosz, Consumer Reports Nutritionist.

One concern is that many of the bars contain rice ingredients, like brown rice flour or syrup. Rice can contain arsenic and should be limited in a child's diet.

Consumer Reports' top two picks contain no rice products.

The Kids Chocolate Chip Protein Bar from R-X-Bar topped the list. It has no added sugars, no rice ingredients, insulin or protein isolates.

The sugars, protein, and fiber come from whole ingredients, like dates and nuts and it costs about a $1.30 per bar.

Consumer Reports also recommends Chocolate-flavored Quaker Kids Organic Whole Grain Bars. It has all organic ingredients - whole grain oats along with dates and chocolate chips - has just three grams of added sugars and comes in boxes of five, $5.

CR adds there's no real difference between bars for kids and adults, except that kids bars are smaller.

But if your kids get tired of the bars, here's some other easy and healthy snacks: whole fruit, nuts, popcorn, carrot sticks or peppers with hummus.
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