As someone who's always on the go, granola bars tend to be my snack of choice. However, I learned pretty quickly that some bars aren't as healthy as they appear. Considering that Clif Bars are often what's in my bag, I decided to check out the Clif Bar ingredients to see how many were unfamiliar to me.

In the Chocolate Chip Clif Bar (my personal favorite), I recognized 9 out of the 17 ingredients (the other 11 bar flavors vary in ingredients but each has the same basic ingredients). If you've ever looked at the backside of a packet of M&M's or Doritos, you'll understand that knowing more than half of the ingredients is actually a pretty big accomplishment. Right off the bat, I had a good feeling about my snack of choice.

Still, I was curious to see what the eight unfamiliar Clif Bar ingredients actually are, and if they're as nutritious as the company makes them appear to be.

1. Organic Brown Rice Syrup

rice, cereal, risotto, salt, vegetable
Kristine Mahan

Brown rice syrup is exactly what it sounds like: a naturally derived syrup from brown rice. This is marketed as a healthy alternative to other glucose-based sweeteners, but not everyone agrees that it's actually good for you. The fact that Clif Bars contain a good amount of brown rice syrup is a little worrying, but I don't think it's a reason to write off these snack bars for good. 

2.  Soy Protein Isolate

legume, vegetable, pea, pasture, cereal, soy, mung bean, lentil
Emanuel Storch

Soy protein isolate is created by stripping soybeans of all other nutrients they usually contain to isolate just the protein, making it close to 95% percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free. However, there's some debate over whether or not soy protein isolate is good for you. Some say it increases your risk of certain cancers and may disrupt thyroid function, while others think it's fine to eat in moderation. 

3. Organic Cane Syrup

coffee, honey, syrup, sweet, molasses, tea, wine, espresso
Emma Delaney

Cane syrup is similar to molasses in the way that it's made and the way it tastes—slightly sweet and flavorful. Although sugar isn't necessarily healthy, organic cane syrup is much less processed than white sugar. Again, it's not the best sweetener Clif Bars could contain, but it's also not the worst. 

4. Dried Cane Syrup

cereal, flour, dairy product
Andrea Leelike

Dried cane syrup is also used as a sweetener in Clif Bars. Dried cane syrup is basically standard sugar, but it's slightly less refined. 

#SpoonTip: Dried cane syrup is also known as evaporated cane juice.

5. Organic Oat Fiber

cereal, wheat, corn, pasture, oat, oatmeal, barley, hands, handful, handful of oats, grain, Rolled oats
Jocelyn Hsu

Oat fiber is made by grinding oat hulls. The fiber absorbs high amounts of water, which helps improve the texture and softness of Clif Bars. Oat fiber helps boost the nutrition and functionality in flour and oat-based products, and improves bowel health.

6. Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil

JJ Meyer

High oleic sunflower oil is neutral in taste and lengthens the shelf life of Clif Bars. Vegetable oils are not necessarily good to consume in large amounts because they contain a lot of trans fat, but this is the healthiest type of sunflower oil.

7. Barley Malt Extract

cereal, wheat, rye, barley, flour, pasture, corn
Sarah Silbiger

Barley malt extract is a fiber and natural sweetener that's often added to processed food. Health food companies in particular use lots of barley malt extract because it's thought to be a slow-digesting sweetener. It's also half as sweet as refined sugar, but it's a sweetener nonetheless, so it's not necessarily healthy for you.

8. Soy Lecithin

cutie, tangerine, clif bar, studying, snacks, study snack, textbook, notes
Jocelyn Hsu

Soy lecithin is extracted from soybeans, and is found in everything from tea bags to salad dressing. It's used as an emulsifier, meaning it makes oil and water stay mixed together. It may also help extend the shelf life of Clif Bars.

All in all, these Clif Bar ingredients don't seem terrible to me. They're not exactly things you want to be eating in huge quantities every day, they're not horrible for you either. If you're unsure whether or not Clif Bars should be part of your diet, chat with your doctor or a nutritionist to see if these tasty snack bars are the right choice for you.