Women Over 50 Should Avoid Eating This Popular Snack

Remember how you ate as a kid? Breakfast might have been Froot Loops with a glass of milk, lunch was sometimes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and dinner could have been hot dogs and beans. Snacks were hardly healthy, either. Many kids would reach for a bag of corn chips after school, and let's not forget that frozen Snickers bar that hit the spot in the summer months. When you reach your 50s, you'll quickly learn that you can't eat the way you did years ago if you want to feel your best. Menopause can bring unexpected weight gain, even if your diet and exercise routine haven't changed. That's why it's important for women in their 50s to avoid sugary snacks masquerading as healthy ones.

It's no secret that a healthy diet is one of the keys to longevity, though eating well is sometimes trickier than it ought to be. The good thing is that, at this point in your life, you're likely wise to all those deceptive labels on foods such as "all-natural" and "multigrain." They don't necessarily mean that the food in question isn't ultra-processed or packed with too much sodium or sugar. Case in point: Granola bars. They sound healthy because oats are the main ingredient, but, even if you snacked on granola bars as a kid, you'll want to pass on them as you get older, because many are full of unhealthy added sugars.

How many grams of sugar do granola bars have?

Too much added sugar in your diet can accelerate the aging process and lead to conditions such as fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, neurodegenerative diseases, and loss of bone and muscle, according to a 2017 article in Nutrition Research Reviews. The American Heart Association suggests that women get no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day. You'd be surprised how quickly that adds up if you sprinkle some sugar in your coffee or have a little dessert. It's always best to opt for healthier snacks, but you shouldn't assume that your favorite granola bar falls in that category.

A Kellogg's Nutri-Grain breakfast bar might sound like a healthy choice at 130 calories, but this cherry-flavored treat has 12 grams of added sugar. It also has ingredients you won't find in your pantry such as vegetable glycerin, mono- and diglycerides, and methylcellulose. Nature Valley's peanut butter granola bars have 200 calories per serving and 11 grams of added sugar, with the additive soy lecithin also on the list of ingredients. And you'll probably want to put down that Clif Bar as a snack unless you're engaged in heavy exercise: A Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bar will give you 15 grams of added sugar in the form of organic brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, and cane syrup (which are essentially just fancy terms for sugar).

Artificial sweeteners aren't good alternatives for added sugar

Some brands of granola bars will have things like "no added sugar" or "low sugar" on the box, but, while that may well be the case, they often use artificial sweeteners instead. Even though the Food and Drug Administration says that non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose are safe for consumption, you might want to reconsider using them in excess. A 2019 article in Nutrients said that artificial sweeteners could disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut. The article also states that these non-nutritive sweeteners may lead to type 2 diabetes because they can cause glucose intolerance, even if you're otherwise healthy. The World Health Organization advises against consuming artificial sweeteners because long-term use could lead to cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of early death.

If you're worried about having no sweetness at all, don't think that reducing sugar in your diet means cutting back on sources of natural sugar, such as fruit or milk: The sugar in fruit is not the same as added sugar in candy. It's mainly those added sugars that you need to watch out for — the American Heart Association says to limit added sugars, so be sure to read the labels on your foods. If you're craving something sweet, reach for an apple rather than a granola bar. Just remember that solid fruits are always the better choice (the natural sugars found in fruit juices can spike your blood sugar because they lack the fiber to slow down digestion).