A healthier granola bar for kids' lunchboxes

By American Heart Association News

Berry nut granola bar

Looking for a healthy treat to pack in your kid's lunch? The homemade berry nuts granola bar can be sweet and nutritious at the same time.

The main ingredient is oats – a whole grain – meaning it contains the plant's bran, germ and entire grain.

"Oats have heart-healthy effects, including its soluble fiber effect on lowering LDL cholesterol and blood glucose," said Connie Weaver, a distinguished professor in the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. She said oats also contain avenanthramides, a micronutrient with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that may protect against aging-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

The cranberries, flaxseed and nuts that make this granola bar crunchy and chewy also contain the nutrients that activate the body's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory systems.

Commercially produced granola bars have been a staple of lunchboxes and vending machines for years. However, many of them aren't necessarily healthy, Weaver said.

This homemade version, she said, cuts back on sugar, saturated fats and sodium – three ingredients targeted for reduction in federal dietary guidelines.

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