Why These Ingredients
Zing Bars are 100% natural with absolutely no artificial additives, sweeteners or flavors. We developed them for the health and well-being of our patients and from the kinds of ingredients we’d like our own kids to eat.
Each bar has a nut butter base—peanut, almond or cashew—with added protein, fiber, agave nectar and either fruit or organic fair-trade dark chocolate. We chose the ingredients to provide the same complete nutrition that we recommend for all meals:
- Heart healthy fats
- High fiber
- High quality lean protein
- Low glycemic carbs
For Heart Healthy Fats & Fiber: Nut ButtersIn addition to their savory, delicious taste, nuts are an extremely beneficial part of the diet. Here are just few reasons why:
- Nuts are loaded with fiber, protein and heart healthy fats known as monounsaturated fatty acids.
- Nuts are nutrient rich, meaning they contain a host of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, most notably vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium and copper.
Not only do nuts contain healthy fats, they have been shown to actually increase longevity. Take a look at our blog entry explaining how UCLA researches have found that regular consumption of nuts is associated with a two-year average increase in lifespan.
They’re also helpful for weight control when you use them instead of other fats.
We call fiber the unsung hero of the nutrition world because it has so many benefits and gets so little recognition. Most of us know that fiber improves digestive health and bowel regularity. But did you know that it also decreases cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, improves immunity and provides a food source for the beneficial bacteria in our gut? It also supports weight loss by making us feel full and reducing the temptation to overeat.
So in addition to the fiber in the fruit and nuts, we add inulin from chicory root fiber, which has a number of great benefits:
- Inulin acts as a food source for the “good” bacteria in our gut, helping them out-compete the “bad” bacteria, like yeast
- The extra fiber from the inulin slows the release of sugar into our blood stream, preventing blood sugar spikes
- Inulin also makes us feel full, part of the reason Zing Bars satisfy for hours
High Quality Lean Protein
Each Zing Bar contains between 10 and 13 grams of vegetable protein, the equivalent of nearly two ounces of lean turkey or chicken. Protein boosts metabolism, builds muscles, and supplies the raw nutrients for
cellular repair and maintenance. 5 or 6 grams isn’t enough to make a difference, while 20 to 30 grams, like you find in many muscle building bars, creates a chalky, artificial taste without providing any added metabolic benefit, since your body can’t use that much all at once. 10 to 15 grams is the sweet spot, which is why we use that amount.
There are advantages to each type of protein.
Whey comes from milk and contains the highest Biological Value (BV) of any protein source. This means it is utilized more efficiently by the body than any other type of protein. Whey also has the highest content of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which stimulate muscle growth. For these reasons, it’s popular with athletes and body builders. In addition, whey promotes synthesis of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful internal antioxidants.
We see a number of patients with allergies to dairy, which is usually caused by the casein protein in milk. While whey protein doesn’t contain casein, there’s always a chance of trace amounts. We also wanted to provide a totally dairy-free, vegan option and rice protein meets that requirement, since it is a hypoallergenic plant-based protein totally without casein. In combination with nut butters, the dairy-free Zing Bars, unlike many dairy-free foods, deliver a complete protein with the full complement of essential amino acids.
When it comes to sweeteners, there are lots of options, but few good ones.
Artificial sweeteners, on the one hand, have many side effects and are responsible for the highest volume of calls to the Center for Disease Control. Plus they’re…well…artificial.
Most natural sweeteners, on the other hand, like honey, sugar and maple syrup are high glycemic and spike blood sugar. Did you know that 1 in every 2 American adults have erratic blood sugar, known as diabetes or pre-diabetes? The main cause is diet, in particular too much sugar and refined foods. We see it every day in our practices, so we needed a sweetener that would not contribute to this alarming situation.
Another option--sugar alcohols like maltitol, sorbitol, and erithritol often cause digestive upset, especially for people with food sensitivities. And the herbal sweetener stevia is bitter.
But sweetness is important for taste and as an energy source. We wanted an all-natural, low glycemic sweetener that would supply energy but not spike blood sugar.
And there’s only one—agave nectar. Agave is the best all-natural choice. Agave nectar releases blood sugar very slowly, which, in combination with fiber, protein and healthy fats, means a “slow burn” of long-lasting energy.
Want to know more? Click here to learn even more about agave nectar and the glycemic index.
Side note: Recently agave has come under fire from some special interests. We always appreciate scientific skepticism and new research, but in this case there appears to be some intentional misinformation. Click here for more about agave and the controversy being stirred up about it.
Organic Fair Trade Dark Chocolate
Like almost any food, depending on what it is, where it’s from and how it’s used, chocolate can either be an unhealthy candy or a high-antioxidant health food. We are proud of our chocolate because, in addition to being delicious, it’s also organic, free of unhealthy additives and Fair Trade.
The mass produced milk chocolate found in most candy bars has no redeeming health benefits, because the added sugar is so high and antioxidant value so low. The milk itself actually negates the natural beneficial effects of dark chocolate by interfering with the absorption of the natural antioxidants. (Mauro Serafini, PhD, Italy National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research Center1,2)
In contrast, the dark chocolate we use is rich in antioxidants, which attack free radicals, the destructive molecules implicated in cell damage and aging.
Most candy bar and cheap chocolates add softening agents like trans fats or palm kernel oil as stabilizers. Those increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Fine dark chocolates—like gift chocolates—don’t do that and you can taste the difference. We do the same in the chocolate coated Zing Bars (Chocolate Coconut and Chocolate Peanut Butter), both to maintain health benefits and to keep the rich dark chocolate flavor. The reason cheaper mass market chocolates use stabilizers is that pure dark chocolates will “bloom” (thechocolatier term) if they get too warm (above 85°), resulting in a lighter colored and slightly powdery surface. This doesn’t affect taste or health benefits, but it looks odd unless you’ve seen it before.
Fair Trade means that proceeds from the sale of our chocolate go directly to the communities that produce it, instead of brokers, importers, distributors, etc. Our chocolate comes from Peru and the Fair Trade practices guarantee that the farmers receive fair compensation for their production. For more info visit Fair Trade Federation.
Certified Gluten-Free Oats
Only recently have gluten-free oats become available, and we are proud to feature certified gluten free oats from Avena Foods in Regina, Saskatchewan in two of our Zing flavors, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.
Our oats are processed in a dedicated gluten free facility where every batch is ELISA3 tested to ensure consistent gluten free status. If you lead a gluten free lifestyle and have been avoiding oats as part of that, even these Zing Bar flavors with oats fit what you’re looking for.
Why No Added Vitamins and Minerals?
Many bars on the market are fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals, which can give a misleading impression that a food is healthy as a result. There is growing concern that eating too many foods fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals may result in unhealthy nutrient levels, especially in children. We have opted to use real foods instead of synthetic nutrients to deliver complete nutrition, much like nature does.
Why Not 100% Organic?
This was a tough one for us. As nutritionists, we affirm the benefits of organic foods for human health and for the planet. We initially set out to be 100% organic, but found that we could not secure a year-round supply for all of our ingredients because the supply of some is too small and inconsistent.
So we set out to make the Zing Bars organic where it counted most, with organic dark chocolate, peanut butter, blueberries and agave, among other ingredients. These foods are the ones whose organic versions are the most demonstrably preferable to their non-organic counterparts. Plus, by producing in small batches, we’re better able to ensure freshness and quality for all the ingredients. The result is a mostly organic product that can deliver premium ingredients at a reasonable price.
1 Nature. 2003 Aug 28;424(6952):1013.
2 Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1784-91.
3 Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, a biochemical technique used in immunology to detect the presence of an antibody or an antigen