A sugar by any other name...
Harvest Bars by PowerBar just aren't good for you at all. I couldn't believe the pure amount of sugars they try to pass off in the ingredients with alternate names. The first ingredient - which means what the thing has the most of - is "brown rice syrup". Translation - "sugar", nicely couched with "brown rice", so that it can be assumed that it's good for you. The ingredients go on to specifically call out sugar (in the "rice crisps" and "chocolatey coating"), evaporated cane juice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, alkalized cocoa, and honey (not so bad). All in all, 20 grams of sugar.
Now, the effects of sugar on the body range from sluggishness and cravings to depressing your immune system and messing with the insulin levels of your body. And when that happens, the end result could be as simple as weight gain, or as complicated as high blood pressure and diabetes (really, this is caused by an imbalance between insulin and glucagon, as explained in Jonny Bowden's book "Shape Up!", but I digress).
So how do we spot hidden sugars? Look for "aspartame", a chemical equivalent of sugar. Little known fact about asparame - it's a protein molecule that breaks down into two compounds - formaldehyde and methanol. The former is a carcinogen, the latter is known to cause blindness. Um? Ew.
Fat free foods, though we love 'em because they don't "count" against our daily tally of allowable fat grams, are full of sugars and "artificial stuff". Something to consider if you're looking into a holistic approach to what you put in your body.
Fruit juices are a pure sugar hit.
Foods high in glucose (bread, pasta) are broken down by the body into sugars.
Sugars to look for in ingredients lists: fruit juice concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, brown rice syrup, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, manitol, sorbitol, xylitol.
Bottom line? Just because the label claims that the product is healthy (and who promotes "healthy" products more than PowerBar, I ask you?), doesn't mean it really is. Investigate, and make the determination for yourself whether a food or a product is healthy for you or not.