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A bar made from sesame seeds: it must be healthy, right? Well, maybe not. Get ready for some scary facts on those sweet bars based on the traditional Middle Eastern style sweets...
The Europe brand of Sesame Bar, which I chose to review here, is a soft bar with a strong caramel flavour. It’s long been popular in the health food aisle but is now manufactured by Cadbury’s so is part of a giant confectionery empire.
The Europe brand of sesame bars is deliciously tasty and you can see all those sesame seeds. You’d be forgiven for thinking these treats were a healthy snack option, right up until the moment you turn the pack over.
The soft Europe bar has only 27 per cent actual sesame seeds, with the first ingredient glucose syrup, followed by sweetened condensed milk and finally some sesame seeds (plus a few more ingredients after that such as rice cereal, vegetable fat, honey, malt extract, a couple of emulsifiers and salt, see below).
Based on the total sugars per 100g (and the fact that any ‘sugars’ here are the added kind), one third of the bar is sugar!
- Soft and sweet, with a nice caramel flavour
- A source of healthy unsaturated fats from the sesame seeds (7g per bar)
- A source of calcium from the sesame seeds and condensed milk
- Only 27 per cent sesame seeds (the rest is the ‘caramel’ portion)
- High in added sugars, with no less than five different types listed in the ingredient list (glucose syrup, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, dextrose and honey). Their 14 grams of sugars means you get 3.5 teaspoons of total sugars per bar.
- High in saturated fat at nearly 7 per cent (when the recommended for a snack is less than 2)
- Kilojoule (Calorie)-dense, equivalent to 3 medium apples! And a lot less filling...
- Chewy and sticky, so bad for your teeth.
Here’s how the numbers appeared on the back of the label:
|Nutrient||Per 45g serve (1 bar)||Per 100g|
|Fat, Total, g||10.0||22.3|
|Carbohydrates, Total, g||24.2||53.8|
(Taken from the Ingredient List on the back. Remember they are listed in descending order by weight, so the first ingredient is the largest)
Wheat glucose syrup, sweetened condensed milk, sesame seeds, rice cereal (rice flour, wheat flour, sugar, salt, emulsifier (471), dextrose), vegetable fat, honey, malt extract, emulsifiers (soy lecithin, 471), salt, flavours.
- 471 = Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids
The sesame competition
There are a couple of different versions of this sesame classic. I chose the Europe brand for this Snapshot but Edens have a similar bar that is also soft and chewy.
Then you have various brands of Snaps. Golden Days Sesame Snaps, for instance, claim they are ‘a delicious healthy snack for all to enjoy’. My hunch is they’re being bought as a crisp and crunchy lunchbox addition. While they have a few more actual seeds squeezed in, they somehow also have more sugar! Plus you can buy supermarket brands of these Snaps now as well, so they must be growing in popularity.
The Snaps are deceptive as they’re wrapped in packs of four but the nutrition panel states a serve is a single Snap. Just one! As if you’re going to open the snack-sized pack, take out a single snap and pop the rest in the pantry for next time!
However their ingredients are quite simple being just around half sesame seeds with the rest glucose syrup and sugar.
Sesame bars are deceptive as the name implies they are mainly healthy sesame seeds, when in fact the majority of this bar is made of various types of added sugars (plus a few other things). This makes it more of a confectionary item than a healthy snack and I’d stick to the real deal if it’s sesame seeds you’re after. However, if it’s something sweet you’re craving, enjoy half a bar, but don’t be under any illusions about the healthiness of your choice. Or you could read Catherine's post Beat sugar cravings with these 20 sweet treats.
Thanks to Guest Reviewer, Megan Cameron-Lee, APD http://thedieteticdegustation.blogspot.com.au