Food Myths Nutrition

Nature Valley: Not So Natural After All

is nature valley healthy

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:

nature valley granola bars

which have many more ingredients — some of them pretty questionable.

is nature valley granola good for you

Looking for better choices?  Here are some of the healthiest granola bars out there.

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    shelley hudson
    August 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    How would I make my own granola bars out of homemade granola? I tried to “mold” some into shape with some honey and again with molasses, and it was just sticky mush…any ideas?

    • Reply
      Amelia
      August 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      Homemade granola bars are tricky. I’ll post a few recipes to try, because I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just stick granola together and call it good.

  • Reply
    deanna
    May 9, 2015 at 6:55 am

    I read all the ingredients on the nature valley package there is no high maltose corn syrup or any othe processed sugar you named. Maybe they changed it. Just sayin

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      May 9, 2015 at 10:10 am

      They must have changed it since this post was published. Great news!

  • Reply
    Carol Fournier
    June 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I thought Nature Valley crunchy granola bars were healthy,I eat the cinnamon ones every day…..I think I will stop eating them!!!!!

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      June 25, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Maybe switch to Nature’s Path Organic? They have tons of delicious options, all organic. Kashi makes some good kinds too.

  • Reply
    kim anguiano
    July 22, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Im very disappointed, I dont each alot of unhealthy food i stay away from all the “yummy” food haha, I honestly thought these bars were healthy and i usually ate about 2 a day when i have a cocolate craving. Very disappointed

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      July 23, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      A bummer, I know. Try Nature’s Path Organic granola bars – lots of yummy flavors and comparable bars but higher quality ingredients.

  • Reply
    Beverly
    December 18, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I love the Natue Valley roasted nut crunch. The label says, “partially produced with genetic engineering.” That sounds a bit scary. It’s 14g of fat; but 1.5g of saturated fat. 190 calories; 120 calories from fat; 160mg of sodium; and 4g of carbs. Is this an okay snack? I would normally eat 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      December 21, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      General Mills and Post have started voluntarily labeling some of their products that contain GMOs. We don’t yet have a federal requirement to label GMOs so some companies are taking a step toward doing so on their own. As far as the research on GMOs and whether they are bad or OK, we don’t yet know. We do know, however, that genetically modified crops tend to contain more pesticides and/or herbicides than non-GMO crops. So if you’re hoping to eat products that were not produced with these chemicals, better to choose a Certified Organic product. For granola bars, I like Kashi (some are organic, some aren’t) and Cascadian Farm.

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