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One-third of people believe protein bars are healthy - but they're highly processed with a lot of saturated fat

The main ingredient found in 38% of protein bars was chocolate.

Man eating protein bar during workout.
Man eating protein bar during workout.
Image: Shutterstock/Jakub Zak

PROTEIN BARS ARE perceived by one-third of people as healthy despite 77% of them having high levels of saturated fat, a study from SafeFood has found. 

A new report launched today by SafeFood, the public body for consumer awareness around healthy eating, examined the nutritional content of 83 high-protein food and drinks from shops around the country. These included protein bars, yoghurts and milks. 

The research found that 38% of high-protein bars included in the research listed chocolate as their main ingredient.   

Director of Human Health & Nutrition at SafeFood Catherine Conlon said there has been a “significant and consistent” increase in the amount of foods claiming to have high protein levels.

“What’s also evident from dietary data is that men and women are already consuming more than enough protein in their diets and simply don’t need this extra, highly processed protein,” said Conlon in a statement. 

The number of products for sale claiming to have high levels of protein rose by 500% between 2010 and 2016, industry sources said in the report. 

The researchers looked at 39 protein bars as part of the study and found that the average bar was 55 grams in size and cost €2.27. 

Adults surveyed were found to be consuming enough protein in general. The report concluded that high-protein snacks aren’t as healthy as they’re perceived to be by those who eat them. 

There is “widespread consumer perception” that protein bars are healthy despite a lack of evidence to suggest they provide people with additional health benefits, the report stated. 

It added that a higher intake of protein may provide small positive effects for elderly people on their bone and muscle health. 

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