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When food is medicine, what makes a decent snack?

As a patient, I approach NAFLD and NASH with a food as medicine strategy. I believe in the idea that with a damaged organ making it work as little as possible is the only rational plan.

For now, let's assume that you are eating a liver friendly diet but what do you do for those in-between times.  A snack when you need something convenient.  We all know that vegetables, fruits and nuts make a great snack but are a challenge if you are not at home. We need something that is convenient, not messy, doesn't spoil, isn't bulky, doesn't require preparation, and most importantly is consistent with the food strategy.


For many people that ends up being a snack or protein bar.  Fresh products can be difficult to manage if you aren't at home and sometimes even there you want some kind of simple snack without a lot of prep.  The question of what kind of snack bar fits into a liver friendly diet comes up fairly frequently so I took a look at some of the products.

If you click on the image you can look at the analysis but let's review the goals.  We want to limit sugar, salt, saturated fats, and simple carbs as broad goals.  We need some protein and we hope it doesn't taste like cardboard.  Basic stuff.

Since there was only one manufacturer who claimed to be designed as a liver friendly snack, that is the Amsety bar, I decided to use that as a comparison.  I took the bars that were advertised on Sam's Club and compared their nutrition labels.  All of that is in the spreadsheet so you can see the detail for yourself if you click on the image above.

A key ingredient is sodium.  I was surprised by how much salt is in some bars and I was interested that Amsety is the only one without added salt.

Since the bars have different total calories, I was wondering how they compared so I calculate some comparisons.  The reds and greens in the table show what products were higher and lower in a few of the important measures.  For example what percent of the calories are from sugar?  Lower is better.  What is the ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat? Higher is better. What is the ratio of total calories to dietary fiber? Lower is better.

One of the challenges that patients face is how to interpret the nutrition information that is presented on the label and how it might fit with the goals of a particular eating strategy.  For what it is worth, Amsety does come out as a decent choice as a snack in the kind of liver friendly lifestyle we recommend. If you would like to check them out, here is a link.