Kind bars are made from nuts, fruits, and whole grains. Are they healthy? It depends on who you ask.
The FDA has told the company to stop making “healthy” claims. Kind bars exceed the maximum 3 grams of fat (and 1 gram of saturated fat) that regulators allow for a food to be marketed with the term.
But the New York-based company won’t let go of “healthy” without a fight. On December 1, it filed a petition saying that how the FDA defines “healthy” is all wrong, since the fat criteria exclude foods that contain nuts, avocados, olives, and salmon—all foods that nutrition experts encourage people to eat precisely for their health benefits.
Both parties are right, and both are wrong.
The FDA’s “healthy” guidelines were created more than 20 years ago. They are outdated, and Kind is right to point out that they unfairly exclude these food items.
“The current regulations were created with the best intentions when the available science supported dietary recommendations limiting total fat intake. However, current science tells us that unsaturated fats in nutrient-dense foods like nuts, seeds, and certain fish are beneficial to overall health,” CEO Daniel Lubetzky said in a statement.
However, Kind’s petition, which has the signature of a number of nutritionists, doesn’t emphasize the flip side of its argument, which is that the science has also advanced in understanding how bad sugar can be for a person’s long-term health. The FDA’s “healthy” guidelines currently have no criteria for sugar or added sugar at all—that’s why sugary breakfast cereal or low-fat Pop Tarts can call themselves healthy. Truly healthy foods, like nuts, would also be low in sugar.