There’s no section of the supermarket with a bigger health halo than the health food aisle. The very name tricks people into thinking every single item sitting on the shelves is automatically good for you… but my advice is: buyer beware.
You see, there’s a stack of products in the health food aisle that aren’t that healthy at all. Many are ultra-processed (think: veggie chips and protein bars), lacking of much of the goodness wholefoods provide.
They might be gluten free, dairy free, lactose free and/or nut free – but unless you’ve got a medical need to avoid these food components, you’re getting absolutely no benefit from excluding them from your diet.
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Bliss balls are one such health food aisle find that aren’t always a sure thing when it comes to healthy eats. Most are jam-packed with nuts and dried fruit – and while that sounds nutritious, dried fruit isn’t the best thing to eat on the reg as it’s a concentrated source of sugar and therefore an issue for dental health.
If your go-to bliss ball is made with coconut oil and refined protein powders, that’s not good news either. What’s more, bliss balls can contain a surprising amount of kilojoules for their tiny size, so if you’re downing them by the dozen, they could lead to weight gain overtime.
Healthy bliss ball criteria
If you’re in the market for a good-for-you bliss ball, here’s my dietitian-approved criteria:
- Portion controlled – a healthy snack ideally contains just 600 kilojoules (150 calories) or less.
- Made with wholefoods – think nuts, seeds and dried fruits, not refined protein powders.
- Packed with good-for-you fats – from nuts and olive oil over coconut oil, which is high in unhealthy saturated fat.
Your favourite supermarket bliss balls, ranked from healthiest to least healthy
To save you the hard work, I’ve analysed the most popular bliss balls on supermarket shelves and ranked them from healthiest to least healthy below. Note that I’ve compared products based on the serving size stated on the packet. This is something I normally wouldn’t do (the per 100 gram column is usually the best way to compare different brands), but given that bliss balls come in pre-determined sizes, the per serve comparison was more relevant on this occasion.
1. Tasti Fruit & Vege Wholefood Balls Mango & Carrot
Per 30g serve: 500kJ, 1.2g protein, 1.9g sat fat, 12.7g sugar, 1.2g fibre, 6mg sodium
2. Keep It Cleaner Nut Butter Filled Ball Dark Choc With Peanut Butter
Per 40g serve: 746kJ, 5.6g protein, 2.7g sat fat, 14g sugar, 4.7g fibre, 32mg sodium
3. Nutty Bruce Hazelnut, Oat & Cacao Nut Butter Balls
Per 42g serve: 788kJ, 5.1g protein, 3.5g sat fat, 11.6g sugar, 4.2g fibre, 19mg sodium
4. Tom & Luke Snackaballas Peanut Butter & Cacao
Per 70g serve: 1230kJ, 9.5g protein, 3g sat fat, 24.8g sugar, 6.4g fibre, 256mg sodium
5. Tasti Smooshed Wholefood Balls Peanut Butter & Caramel
Per 69g serve: 1290kJ, 9.9g protein, 3.2g sat fat, 25.9g sugar, 5.9g fibre, 125mg sodium
6. Macro Mighty Bites Cheeky Cocoa Balls
Per 20g serve: 266kJ, 1.6g protein,
7. Bounce Coconut Macadamia Protein Energy Ball
Per 40g serve: 668kJ, 8.6g protein, 2.8g sat fat, 7.2g sugar, 6.8g fibre, 92mg sodium
8. The Bar Counter Protein Balls Peanut Butter Chocolate
Per 30g serve: 510kJ, 9.1g protein, 2.1g sat fat, 2.1g sugar, 2.2g fibre, 89mg sodium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.