Are Zone Perfect Bars a Healthy Snack?

If Zone Perfect bars are your go-to, keep the nutritional benefits and health risks in mind before snack time.

Zone Perfect nutrition bars are part of The Zone Diet, which is promoted as a way to help people eat the ideal balance of protein and other nutrients to support good health and maintain high energy levels.

Video of the Day

The Zone Perfect nutrition bars certainly do deliver a good dose of protein, plus many vitamins and minerals, but that doesn't mean that they're the best go-to snack you can choose.

Advertisement

Zone Perfect Bar Nutrition Facts

One Zone Perfect bar is equal to a single serving. Although nutrition may vary based on the flavor you choose, one Zone Perfect bar generally contains:

  • Calories​: 213
  • Total fat​: 7 g
  • Cholesterol​: 4 mg
  • Sodium​: 222 mg
  • Total carbs​: 22.5 g
  • Dietary fiber​: 1 g
  • Sugar​: 13.5 g
  • Added sugar​: 13 g
  • Protein​: 15 g

Zone Perfect Bar Macros

  • Total fat​: One Zone Perfect bar has 7 grams of total fat, which includes 2.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1.9 grams of monounsaturated fat, 2.2 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat.
  • Carbohydrates​: One Zone Perfect Bar has 22.5 grams of carbs, which includes 1 gram of fiber and 13.5 grams of sugars, which includes 13 grams of added sugars.
  • Protein​: One Zone Perfect Bar has 15 grams of protein.

Advertisement

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients

  • Vitamin B12​: 88% of your Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin E​: 80% DV
  • Vitamin C:​ 67% DV
  • Riboflavin (B2)​: 65% DV
  • Niacin (B3)​: 63% DV
  • Vitamin B6​: 59% DV
  • Vitamin A​: 58% DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)​: 50% DV
  • Copper​: 43% DV
  • Zinc​: 34% DV
  • Thiamin (B1)​: 31% DV
  • Folate (B9)​: 20% DV
  • Manganese​: 18% DV
  • Phosphorus​: 12% DV
  • Iron​: 10% DV
  • Magnesium​: 10% DV
  • Calcium​: 8% DV
  • Choline​: 7% DV
  • Selenium​: 4% DV
  • Potassium​: 3% DV

Advertisement

Health Benefits of Zone Perfect Bars

Zone Perfect Bars are filled with protein and several vitamins and minerals. They're also a source of healthy unsaturated fats, while being relatively low in saturated fat and cholesterol compared to many other processed convenience snacks.

1. Zone Perfect Bars Offer Protein for a Quick Snack

If you don't have time to prepare a snack or meal, Zone Perfect Bars are an easy way to quickly satiate your hunger.

Advertisement

"They are a quick and convenient snack, and are a good source of carbohydrates and protein for an on-the-go snack," says Rebecca Elbaum Jaspan, RD, a clinical administrative dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center.

One Zone Perfect Bar contains 22.5 grams of carbs and 15 grams of protein. It also contains 7 grams of fat, the majority of which is healthy unsaturated fat. Protein and healthy fats are important to include in your snacks because they help keep you full — protein is slow-digesting and keeps you satiated, while fat sends signals to your brain to tell you you're full, per Harvard Health Publishing.

That said, Zone Perfect Bars don't provide much fiber, with only 1 gram per bar. You'd normally get plenty of fiber in a snack that contains plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits or nuts, which is important because it adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster (which can help control your weight), per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Fiber also aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation, but most Americans don't eat enough of it.

Tip

“Zone Perfect bars may be less filling than other snacks due to their lack of fiber,” Jaspan says. “I would pair these bars with a fruit or vegetable for that added fiber.”

2. They’re Rich in Several Vitamins and Minerals

With just one Zone Perfect bar, you'll get more than half your daily value of vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), vitamin B6 and vitamin A plus many other vitamins and minerals.

The wide range of B vitamins in Zone Perfect bars is important because your body uses them to create red blood cells and energy from the food you eat, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Typically, B vitamins are found in proteins like fish, poultry, meat, eggs and dairy products (plus some plant-based foods), and a lack of B12 or B6 can cause anemia.

Although it's typically best to get your vitamins from whole foods rather than processed snacks, Zone Perfect bars are an easy way to get B vitamins if you otherwise have trouble fitting them into your diet.

You'll also get 80 percent of your daily value of Vitamin E, which is important for vision and the health of your brain, blood and skin. Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant, which means it might protect your cells from the effects of free radicals produced when your body digests food or is exposed to environmental factors like tobacco smoke, per the Mayo Clinic.

Free radicals might play a role in diseases like heart disease and cancer. However, it's important to keep in mind that supplemental forms of vitamin E may not offer the same benefits as naturally occurring antioxidants in food.

Meanwhile, vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and is required to make collagen, the structural protein that helps wounds heal, per the National Institutes of Health. It helps the immune system work properly and improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods — another good reason to pair your Zone Perfect bar with produce.

3. They’re Relatively Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

When compared to other processed convenience snacks — say, a doughnut or a beef stick — Zone Perfect bars are somewhat low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol.

Each bar does contain 2.2 grams of saturated fat, so it's important to stick to a serving size of one bar. However, a bar also contains 2.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 1.9 grams of monounsaturated fat — nearly twice as much healthy unsaturated fat as saturated fat.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a dietary pattern that includes no more than 5 to 6 percent of calories from saturated fat. That equates to no more than 120 calories or 13 grams of saturated fat per day for a 2,000-calorie diet.

Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events in a June 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials with about 59,000 participants published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

What's more, a Zone Perfect bar contains just 4 milligrams of cholesterol. Today, dietary cholesterol isn't considered quite as harmful as it used to be, but for some people, it can dramatically affect blood cholesterol levels, so it's important to keep it in check, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Zone Perfect Bar Health Risks

1. Zone Perfect Bars Are Highly Processed

Typically, processed foods are less nutritious than whole foods. "Zone Perfect Bars have a huge laundry list of ingredients, making them a highly processed food," Jaspan says. "There's nothing wrong with that, but it's a good idea to limit your intake of processed foods."

That's because processed and packaged foods can contain high amounts of sodium and added sugar, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In fact, processed foods are major sources of sodium in the American diet because salt is often added to extend shelf life.

One Zone Perfect bar contains 222 milligrams of sodium. The daily limit for sodium is no more than 2,300 milligrams, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams daily for most adults (especially those with high blood pressure), per the American Heart Association. One bar provides 15 percent of your ideal daily sodium limit.

Zone Perfect bars can also contain around 13 grams of added sugar, which is not found naturally in food and is added manually instead. Eating too many added sugars can cause health problems like weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 10 percent of your total daily calories should come from added sugars, which equates to no more than 50 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet.

"Because some varieties are high in sugar and low in fiber, these bars are a poor choice if you have diabetes," Jaspan says. If you do eat a Zone Perfect bar as a snack, take note of how much added sugar and sodium you consume throughout the rest of the day.

2. They May Contain Sugar Alcohols

Some Zone Perfect bars that are lower in added sugar contain sugar alcohols to make up for it.

Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes that provide about a half to one-third fewer calories than normal sugar, per Yale New Haven Hospital. They're popular among those with diabetes because they're converted to glucose more slowly, which means they won't cause sudden spikes in blood sugar.

However, this could cause stomach issues when eaten in excess. "If you're eating the variety with sugar alcohols, more than one could cause gastrointestinal upset," Jaspan says.

3. They Contain Allergens

It's important to check the ingredient list on the specific Zone Perfect bars you select because they can include several allergens such as soy, milk and peanuts. They might also be manufactured in a facility that also processes ingredients like eggs, wheat and tree nuts.

Soy, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish account for about 90 percent of all food allergies, per the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

If you suspect you have a food allergy, it's important to see your doctor or an allergist for an evaluation. Symptoms can include vomiting, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough, weak pulse or even anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can send the body into shock.

4. Drug Interactions

Because Zone Perfect bars come in a variety of flavors and have extremely long ingredient lists, it's important to ask your doctor about how medications you take may interact with specific ingredients or overall dietary patterns.

For instance, there have been some cases in which a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet interacts with warfarin therapy (used to treat and prevent blood clots), leading to the need for a higher dose of the medication, per a 2005 report in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

Always speak to a physician before making any changes to how or when you take your medication.

How to Include Zone Perfect Bars in a Healthy Diet

Although Zone Perfect bars shouldn't replace healthy whole foods in your diet, they can be part of a healthy lifestyle when eaten in moderation and as a part of a well-balanced diet.

Balance them with high-fiber foods:​ Because Zone Perfect bars are low in fiber, it's best to eat them with other high-fiber foods such as:

  • Raspberries
  • Pears
  • Broccoli
  • Bran flakes
  • Almonds

Eat Zone Perfect Bars in moderation​: Processed foods can find a place in your diet, as long as you're conscious about making healthy decisions throughout the rest of the day. "Every food can be part of a healthy diet because all foods provide us with something," Jaspan says. "There is nothing wrong with eating one bar a day."

However, if you do so, be sure to stay cognizant of how much added sugar, sugar alcohols or sodium you consume otherwise. The best way to keep these ingredients in check is by opting for whole foods whenever possible and limiting processed and packaged foods.

Alternatives to Zone Perfect Bars

There are several healthy snack bars on the market that may provide a better nutritional profile. "Other bars I recommend in place of Zone Perfect bars are KIND bars, RXBAR, Bob's Red Mill oat bars and Perfect Bars," Jaspan says.

"I also recommend nuts, fruit and peanut butter, vegetables and hummus or crackers and cheese for nutritious and filling snacks."

Advertisement

references