When you buy a product called “Nature Valley,” in a box labeled “100% natural,” you’re probably assuming the product is a natural, healthy choice, right?
Wrong. If you examine the ingredients in most Nature Valley products, you’ll find high maltose corn syrup, maltodextrin, and sometimes high fructose corn syrup — 3 highly processed ingredients that do not exist in nature. These ingredients are sweeteners that may or may not be nutritionally worse than sugar, but they’re certainly not natural.
Because of this, two California moms are suing General Mills, the makers of Nature Valley, claiming that the packaging, labeling, and marketing of these products deceives consumers into believing that they’re natural and healthy. These moms say their intention is to make other parents aware that “natural” products are not necessarily pure, healthy, or 100% natural.
Are Nature Valley products healthy?
It depends. They wouldn’t be my first choice (these are my favorite granola bars), and some of their ingredients are definitely highly processed, but most varieties are no worse than other commercial granola bars. The problem really lies in the marketing: with images of nature and active people on their labels and in their ads, most consumers assume these are an especially healthy choice, which they’re not.
And some of their products are better than others. The regular crunchy granola bars, like the ones pictured above, are a healthier choice than either of these:
which have many more ingredients — some of them pretty questionable.
Looking for better choices? Here are some of the healthiest granola bars out there.