Dietitian Melissa Meier unpacks the nasty ingredients that could be hiding in your bliss balls and ranks the healthiest options that you’ll find at your local shops.
One of the health food aisle’s tastiest snacks – the bliss ball – has found its way into our desk drawers, purses and pantries, thanks to their reputation as a healthy between meal bite. And with a base of dried fruit, nuts and seeds, it’s easy to see why.
But bliss balls aren’t automatically a healthy choice – some are more like a decadent dessert than a healthy bite to eat. Here’s what you need to know to avoid the most common bliss ball traps.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
The portion size…
Nuts and seeds are oh-so-good for you, but they’re also energy-dense. That means that for a relatively small portion, you’re in for a decent chunk of calories. Add to that other common bliss ball ingredients like dried fruit and coconut, and you could have a calorie bomb on your hands.
Most commercial bliss balls exceed what I’d consider to be a healthy calorie count for a snack – so I haven’t listed a great deal of them down below. In most cases, you’d probably be better off making your own at home.
Nonetheless, if you do opt for a commercial bliss ball, I’d suggest you stop at just one, rather than devouring two or three or five or ten in one sitting. FYI, your goal is just 600 kilojoules (roughly 150 calories) per snack.
The saturated fat content…
Perfectly formed bliss balls don’t just stay in shape for no reason – there’s something in there holding it all together. Yes, sticky dried fruit helps with binding, but often, coconut oil is added in as well. That’s not ideal, because coconut oil is actually packed with saturated fat, which isn’t good news with heart health in mind (*gasp*).
The sugar content…
Dried fruit is a concentrated source of sugar, so you don’t want to eat mountains upon mountains of the stuff. In case you’re wondering, just 30 grams of dried fruit is considered one serve (and I’d suggest you only consume dried fruit a couple of times a week, at most).
On top of this natural sugar from dried fruit, other sweeteners like honey and maple syrup could be added in, too, and these are the types of added sugar you want to avoid. To decipher if the sugar in bliss balls is natural or added, simply scan the ingredients list.
The best packaged bliss balls
Tasti Made Simple Wholefood Balls Peanut Butter & Caramel ($3.00 at Coles)
These mini snack packs are the perfect portion in terms of calories, so there’s nothing wrong with eating the whole bag. Made with peanuts, they’re relatively high in protein and offer heart-healthy fats.
Per 34.5g bag:
- 634kJ (152cal)
- 4.8g protein
- 1.6g sat fat
- 14.1g carbs
- 12.7g sugar
- 3.2g fibre
- 65mg sodium
Tasti Smooshed Wholefood Balls Berry, Cashew & Cacao ($3.00 at Coles)
These balls made the cut because of their simple ingredients list, but the nutrition information panel on the packet suggests the whole bag is a single serve – and that equates to almost 270 calories. I’d recommend you portion the bag out over several days.
Per 60g bag:
- 1120kJ (268cal)
- 4.8g protein
- 3.1g sat fat
- 43.1g carbs
- 33.4g sugar
- 5.9g fibre
- 7mg sodium
Tom & Luke Fruit & Nut Snackaballs Zesty Orange Cacao ($4.00 at Woolworths)
Another option with a healthy ingredients list, these bliss balls are mostly dates, coconut and nuts. Again, if you devoured the whole packet, you’d go a little overboard in terms of calories, so take it easy and enjoy just one ball at a time.
Per 70g serve:
- 1190kJ (285cal)
- 4.9g protein
- 7.8g sat fat
- 28.4g carbs
- 25.1g sugar
- 7.9g fibre
- 23mg sodium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.