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Want a healthy and tasty snack?

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Sabine Muter

ANN/THE STAR: If you’re looking for a tasty snack while trying to stay away from chocolate, the good news is that at least there are more options, from protein bars and muesli to fruit bars and energy balls.

All promise to be a healthier alternative to chocolate, with many based on dates, nuts, almonds or dried fruit, while some snacks contain protein powder.

Nutrition experts have their doubts, however.

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“The range of snacks is wide, but many are sweeter than healthy,” said Rita Rausch of a German consumer advisory center.

One concern is that these products are often high in sugar, she said, especially fruit or muesli bars, with some containing 12 grams of sugar.

National nutritional guidelines vary, but the German Nutrition Society (DGE) suggests that people limit their sugar intake to 50 grams per day.

“So if you eat a muesli bar, you’ve already consumed a good portion of your daily allowance of sugar,” Rausch said.

Also note that this doesn’t just apply to added sugars, as dates, nuts, rice syrup or honey also affect how much sugar the products contain.

However, there are good muesli bars, especially those with a relatively high fiber content, which keep you feeling full for longer.

Meanwhile, many snacks have a negative impact not only because of their sugar content, but also “because of their high fat content and added flavors,” Rausch said.

This does not mean that all snacks available in the market are bad for your health, it depends on the individual product.

So take a closer look at the ingredient list before you buy.

Protein bars, now considered the perfect fitness snack, promise to help the body build muscle and promote regeneration during exercise.

“However, even the name protein bar is misleading,” said nutritionist Elke Binder, “because the bar does not consist exclusively of protein.”

They also often contain sugar or substitutes such as glucose or a form of sugar syrup.

And the bars are usually covered in chocolate, which also makes them even sweeter.

If you eat a balanced diet, you should be able to meet your protein needs with some meats and dairy products, as well as oatmeal, legumes or nuts.

“At most, for some high-performance athletes and people who do hard physical work, such as construction workers, eating protein bars in addition to their regular diet may make sense,” Rausch said.

Another disadvantage of these snacks is that they tend to be relatively expensive, and a homemade snack is usually cheaper and often healthier.

You can try making energy balls, for example, which means you can determine exactly what they contain.

The German Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) recommends a basic recipe: mix 200 grams of dried fruit with 100 grams of nuts, seeds or cereal flakes.

Whiz them in a blender to create a sticky, chewy dough that can be rolled into about 15 chocolate-sized balls.

If you like your energy balls extra creamy, just add a tablespoon of peanut butter.

You can further refine the snack balls with vanilla, cinnamon, poppy seeds, cocoa or coconut flakes.

In the meantime, Binder suggests another quick snack that can also speed up digestion.

Mix 125 grams of low-fat curd with two tablespoons each of cream and water and one tablespoon of linseed oil.

Add a teaspoon of linseed and freshly ground fruit.

“Berries are especially good,” he said.

In its muesli variant, the sugar content is limited to the fructose from the berries.

But you can also go the totally salty route, stirring herbs into the curd and eating a jacket potato.