Are Z Bars Healthy? The Truth About These Energy Bars

If you’re always on the lookout for healthy snack options for your kids, you may likely have come across Z bars. 

Z bars are popular energy bars made for kids by Clif Bar company. These bars are marketed as a healthy snack option for active kids.

The bars are made with organic ingredients such as rolled oats and are available in a variety of flavors such as chocolate brownie, chocolate chip, blueberry muffin, etc.

However, one common question that most people wonder is whether Z bars are healthy.

Short answer: Z bars are partially healthy for you as they are made from organic ingredients, are decent source of protein and fiber and low in sodium. However, because they contain high added sugar and processed ingredients, it’s important to consume them in moderation.

Let’s dive deeper into Z bars, including their ingredients, sugar, protein, fiber content, and much more. 

Also read: Are Yasso Bars Healthy? Everything You Need To Know

What are Z bars made up of?

The exact ingredients in Z bars can vary depending on the flavor.

In general, Z bars are made up of an Oat blend(Rolled oats, Oat flour, Oat fiber), Tapioca syrup, Cane syrup, Fig paste, Cane sugar, Sunflower/soybean oil, natural flavors, Cocoa butter, Salt, Baking soda, Soy lecithin and Mixed tocopherols(antioxidant).

The good thing is most of these ingredients are organic.

Let’s get to know a little about some of these ingredients.

Oat blend: Z bars are made up of rolled oats, oat flour, and oat fiber as the base ingredient. This oat blend makes Z bars healthy and better than traditional snack bars.

Tapioca syrup: It is a thick and sticky syrup used as a sweetener. It is made from the starch of the cassava root.

Cane syrup: It is syrup or sweetener made from the juice of a sugar cane.

Fig paste: It is a thick, sweet paste made from dried figs. It is added to provide a unique flavor to the Z bars.

Cane sugar: It is a type of sugar derived from sugar cane.

Natural flavors:  Z bars uses natural flavors to improve the flavors. However, what and how many of these natural flavors are used is unknown.

Cocoa butter: It is a natural, edible fat extracted from cocoa beans that gives Z bars a smooth texture and rich flavor.

Baking soda: It is a leavening agent used to leaven or rise doughs and batters.

Soy lecithin:  It is an ingredient made from soy that helps to increase the shelf life and prevent spoilage of foods.

Mixed tocopherols: These are a natural mixture of compounds that provide vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radicals(harmful molecules).

How much sugar is in Z bars?

Z bars are high in sugar containing 10 to 11g per serving(36g) depending on the flavor. That’s roughly 28% of the entire weight of Z bars.

Additionally, about 90% of the total sugar in Z bars is added sugar(cane sugar, cane syrup, tapioca syrup).

According to American Heart Association, children should not have more than 25g of sugar daily.

Consuming just one serving of Z bar can give children around 40% of the daily sugar limit. 

And if the child is addicted and eats more than one serving, the sugar content can go up.

While a little bit of sugar is okay, too much can lead to health problems like obesity, weight gain, tooth decay, acne, diabetes, and a negative impact on learning and memory[1].

Here is the table showing the sugar content of all Z bar flavors.

Z bar flavorsAdded sugar(g)Total sugar(g)
Chocolate brownie1011
Chocolate chips910
Blueberry muffins810
Iced oatmeal cookies910
Cinnamon roll910
Per bar(36g)

How much fiber is in Z bars?

Most Z bars contain 2g of fiber per serving(36g), which is roughly 13% of the daily fiber needed for children aged between 5 to 15. 

Chocolate brownie is the only flavor with 3g of fiber per serving.

This might not sound like a lot, but it’s actually a decent amount of fiber in Z bars compared to other snacks.

The fiber in Z bars comes primarily from Oats, which helps the digestive system run smoothly and feel full and satisfied after eating.

Here is a table showing the fiber content of all Z bars with a comparison to other popular snacks among kids.

Z bar flavorsFiber(g)
Chocolate brownie3
Chocolate chips2
Blueberry muffins2
Iced oatmeal cookies2
Cinnamon roll2
Sour patch kids candy0
Mini chips ahoy<1
Oreo mini<1
Nutter butter bites<1
Per serving

How much protein is in Z bars?

The regular Z bars are low in protein containing 2g per serving(36g). However, Z bars protein contains 5g of protein per serving(36g).

This Z bar protein comes in 4 flavors: Chocolate chips protein, Cookies’n creme protein, Chocolate mint protein, and Cinnamon crunch protein.

These Z bars are made from brown rice flour rather than Oat blend as the base ingredient and contain whey protein concentrate and pea protein to increase the protein content.

Moreover, these Z bar protein are slightly low in added sugar, making them a better option than regular Z bars.

Unfortunately, if you are a vegan, these Z bar protein are not suitable for you.

How much sodium is in Z bars?

Z bars are low in sodium containing 65 to 140mg per serving(36g) depending on the flavor. The Z bar protein contains 80-85mg per serving(36g).

While sodium is an essential part of a diet, consuming too much can lead to heart-related issues, even in children.

Fortunately, there is no need to worry about the sodium content while munching on Z bars. 

Here is the table showing the sodium content of all Z bar flavors.

Z bar flavorsSodium(mg)
Chocolate brownie120
Chocolate chips105
Blueberry muffins115
Iced oatmeal cookies105
Cinnamon roll140
Chocolate chips protein80
Cookies ‘n creme protein80
Chocolate mint protein85
Chocolate crunch protein80
Per bar(36g)

Are Z bars good for weight loss?

Z bars are not perfect for weight loss due to their high sugar content. However, you can still consume them on a weight-loss diet in moderation. That’s because they contain some amount of protein and fiber.

Additionally, while Z bars are low in calories(130 to 150) per serving, it’s worth noting that most of these calories come from sugar and processed ingredients like sunflower, soybean oil, and Palm kernel oil.

These are considered empty calories and are bad for weight loss in excess.

Remember that weight loss does not depend on one specific food but rather on your kids overall diet and level of physical activity.

Are Z bars highly processed?

Z bars are considered processed foods due to the use of ingredients like Cane sugar, vegetable oils, salt, and rice flour.

However, they are not as unhealthy as other highly processed snack options such as candies, twinkies, sodas, and chips.

These options often contain artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, and other unhealthy ingredients.

Are Z bars gluten-free?

If you look at the ingredients in Z bars, they do not contain any naturally gluten-containing ingredients.

However, on their official website, the allergen statement suggests that bars may contain wheat. It’s likely because Z bars may be processed in the same facilities that may also process products containing wheat.

This means there is a possibility of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process, which could result in gluten in Z bars.

Are Z bars vegan?

The regular flavors of Z bars are vegan-friendly as they do not contain any milk-based ingredients. However, Z bar protein are not vegan friendly as they contain whey protein concentrate derived from milk.

Again, it’s worth noting that despite no milk-based ingredients in regular Z bars, the allergen statement suggests that they may contain milk, possibly due to cross-contamination.

Furthermore, the organic cane sugar present in regular Z bars might be a concern for certain vegans. However, this cane sugar is organic and entirely vegan-friendly.

How many Z bars should you eat in a day?

Ideally, kids should not have more than one Z bar a day. That’s because they contain a significant amount of added sugar.

However, some kids that are super active and have high energy needs can consume up to two servings a day.

Kids must get most of their daily nutrition from a regular diet that includes whole grains, wheat, vegetables, and fruits. 

Snacks like Z bars should not be used as a replacement for a meal. They should be enjoyed as a treat or when kids need an extra energy boost.

Final words

Despite containing high added sugar and some processed ingredients, Z bars are partially healthy to consume in moderation.

That’s because Z bars are mostly made up of organic ingredients like rolled oats and brown rice.

In addition, they are a decent source of protein(especially Z bars protein) and fiber, with low sodium. Moreover, they also contain some levels of calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

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Yatender is the founder of Investohealth! He provides thoroughly researched, unbiased reviews analyzing packaged foods' ingredients, nutrition, and health impacts. Join him on a quest for healthier, more informed eating habits.

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