Why Does A Granola Bar Contain Soy

Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!

Soy-free snacks for grab-and-go situations can be difficult to find. In fact, some of our biggest wins as we've tried to find soy-free food in the grocery store have been finding snacks that are both soy-free and also easy to throw in a bag to eat on the go. We still regularly have ProBars and Larabars on hand as backup snacks, but we are always looking for more options.

 Granola doesn't have to contain soy - IMAGE VIA PEXELS

Granola doesn't have to contain soy - IMAGE VIA PEXELS

Even once we've found some soy-free options, we also keep looking for other products because we never know what food will be available in a given situation. Knowing more about what soy-free snack options exist makes it easier to identify soy-free food in an unknown location. If a convenience store doesn't stock Lara Bars or ProBars, we could spend a long time reading through every ingredient label, or we could look for other options that we know are soy-free (like Wheat Thins).

To make this easier, we also try to remain knowledgable about the underlying reasons for why a product contains soy. An easy example of this is the prevalence of soybean oil in the US. We know that soybean oil is frequently used because it is the cheapest cooking oil in the US, so by looking for more upscale or artisan products we may be more likely to find a soy-free option. 

A good way to illustrate this is by understanding the underlying reasons for why granola bars typically contain soy:

There are three places to find soy in granola bars. The first, and most obvious, is the chocolate. Almost all chocolate contains soy, so the inclusion of chocolate into a granola bar is a near guarantee that it will contain soy. That being said, we always recommend reading the ingredient list to verify a particular item since you never know what soy-free product you might find. Chocolate is frequently advertised on granola bars, so it's an easy way to eliminate a particular product right away.

 It can be difficult to find grab-and-go snacks that are soy-free - IMAGE VIA PEXELS

It can be difficult to find grab-and-go snacks that are soy-free - IMAGE VIA PEXELS

The second way that soy is used in granola bars is through soybean oil. Granola bars need a binding substance and this binding substance typically contains some sort of oil. (Some granola bars use honey and/or a sweet sticky fruit (like dates) instead of oil as this binding substance). Since soybean oil is a common, cheap oil, it is frequently used in this binding agent. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to verify that soybean oil is used in any particular brand without reading the ingredient label, but brands do typically tend to use the same binding agent across all products, so similar bars are likely to have the same base ingredients.

Finally, soy lecithin is also commonly added to the binding agent as an emulsifier (to keep the texture consistent), which introduces soy into the granola bar. Just like with soybean oil, there is no easy way to determine if a granola bar contains soy lecithin without carefully reading the ingredient list.

While knowing this information doesn't always help with identifying particular soy-free granola bars, it's beneficial to understand what types of products are more likely to be soy-free and why.