Originally I set to write a blog post that would group all the KIND bar flavors into those that contain soy lecithin, and those that do not. However, upon checking the ingredients of each flavor (kindsnacks.com), I learned that soy lecithin is far too common an ingredient in my precious KIND bars—in fact, it’s in 16 of their 18 flavors!! Only Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants, and Almond Cashew with Flax + Omega 3 do not have soy lecithin. This is so disappointing to me because the very philosophy behind the KIND brand (or so their marketing department has us believing) is: “We believe if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn’t go into your body. Actually, it shouldn’t even go into your pantry. That’s why all KIND Healthy Snacks are made from all-natural whole nuts, fruits and whole grains. No secret ingredients and absolutely nothing artificial here. Just a delicious way of getting your body essential nutrients like fiber, protein and antioxidants (to name a few).

So then I thought, maybe I’m over-reacting to the presence of soy lecithin. How closely does it resemble soy, which is where I really have the issue. Although it’s debated in the health community, I personally do my best to stay away from soy because, “more than 90 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified. Since the introduction of genetically engineered foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems in the U.S., and animal studies have shown devastating effects from genetically engineered soy including allergies, sterility, birth defects, and offspring death rates up to five times higher than normal.” [1. Dr Joseph Mercola, Huffington Post, published 8/23/12].

So what does soy lecithin do that it needs to be present in (what seems like) everything?

“[Soy lecithin is] used as an emulsifier, which means it makes oil and water mix together, which they ordinarily would never do. It even helps to emulsify foods you’ve probably never thought of as emulsions (oil & water mixtures)–like chocolate. But lecithin does more than just emulsify! …it helps stabilize emulsions, which extends shelf life. It also reduces stickiness and is often used as a “releasing agent,” which is integral to the effectiveness of non-stick cooking spray.” [2. Amanda Greene, Huffington Post, published 3/18/13] Ah, well the non-stickiness factor and longer shelf life definitely applies to needs KIND would have for their bars. But I still didn’t understand where it comes from.

It’s no surprise to me that my research brought up time and again, that while lecithin can be derived from other products including egg yolks, wheat germ, and peanuts (side note: isn’t it scary/interesting that the most common food allergies are all represented here?!), soybeans are the most common because it’s the cheapest. Same sad story for explaining away all packaged food products in the last 20+ years—cheap always wins even if quality and safety is lost. And because, as Dr. Mercola [2] told us, 90% of soy in the US is genetically modified, it’s even cheaper.

As I’ve said, my concern for soy is more based on hormones and GMO practices, but for those with a soy allergy or sensitivity, food scientist Amanda Greene [2] cites that “the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) reports:

Soy lecithin does contain trace levels or [sic] soy proteins and these have been found to include soy allergens. However, apparently, soy lecithin does not contain sufficient soy protein residues to provoke allergic reactions in the majority of soy-allergic consumers. Many allergists do not even advise their soybean-allergic patients to avoid soybean lecithin when it is included as an ingredient on food products. From this practical standpoint, we can surmise that most soybean-allergic individuals do not react adversely to the ingestion of soybean lecithin. (3)

So where is my actual concern with soy lecithin in KIND bars?

The Amanda Greene article, “Soy Lecithin: Why Is It In Everything?” I link to below, says that “organic soy lecithin” is actually okay because it is fermented and confirms it is non-GMO; however, “organic” does NOT appear in KIND’s ingredients and yet they always make a point to specify “non-GMO glucose” as another very commonly used ingredient in their bars. To further confuse matters, on the front of all KIND bar packages, they state the bars are “all natural/non-GMO” so can we assume the soy lecithin is non-GMO too? Why does the glucose get a specific shout-out and not the soy lecithin? Aghghghhh the inconsistency!!!!

Conclusion?

Well, friends, I have to be honest, I’m still confused!! But here’s what I’m thinking…avoid soy lecithin as much as possible; however, if you are going to consume it, limit it and stick to products such as KIND that have front labeling as “non-GMO.” I personally plan to keep my post-workout snack as a Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants or Almond Cashew with Flax + Omega 3 bar—particularly while I’m pregnant and then breastfeeding—and leave the other flavors as an occasional treat (and let’s be real, a Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate KIND bar with its soy lecithin is still WAY better for you than a chemical laden Snickers bar!)

After learning about the chemically-driven technique to typically derive soy lecithin and how only organic soy lecithin can earn the non-GMO badge, I still don’t understand what shadiness is happening that KIND doesn’t/can’t list “organic soy lecithin” as the ingredient instead of simply “soy lecithin” when they are allowed to display on the front that they’re non-GMO and on their website that they only use all natural ingredients. I really want to trust them but in light of recent events with food companies such as Naked Juice (Naked Juice lawsuit) my skepticism of the food industry is at an all time high. I want to shrug and say “moderation is key” but I will continue researching this for everyone because it just doesn’t add up.

I fear I’m leaving you in more confusion, so I’m REALLY interested in your feedback on this information: What do you plan to do? Eat soy lecithin, eat only organic soy lecithin, or avoid it all together?

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/soy-healthy_n_1823052.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-greene/soy-lecithin-why-is-it-in_b_2891780.html

16 Comments

  1. Shandrellia Griffin

    I thank you for your input on the Kind bar. I am new to this healthier living. I have not had meat or fish since June of last year 2013. I have not given up dairy products as of yet. On occasion, I will have a Greek yogurt for an egg. I recently what you doing research on vegan living. on the talk show for 2014, February 24 there was a vegan guest chef. I found her cooking very interesting and advertising. I have a concern with the use of soy products. I have had tofu in this new healthy living. I enjoy the Kind bar and have a stash of them including the news granola bars. I am past the child bearing age. I have had a flare with kidney disorder since the birth of my youngest child 17 years ago. I have not been able to get my medicine for more than a year now, due to a lack of insurance. In the past I would be in fatal condition after only 6 days of not having my medicine. As I came up on the realization that my medication was running out. I decided that I needed to put self help into gear. I had a stock of medication at the time and began to wean myself off of them. Rather than taking them the way they were subscribe, I thought some was better than none. Then the thought of, what did they do in the day when there were no doctors or medication. I decided to change my heating eating habits. I eliminated meat from my diet, fish included. I went to legumes and nuts as my source of protein with kale and spinach and fruit. I also added in my smoothie the superfood buy the nutribullet. Over the holiday I have not been as strict with my routine as I had been in the beginning. I still have not added meats and fish to my diet, nor do I plan to. Instead my intent is to go vegan. Your research and concerned with soy in foods is helpful in my progress. I can’t tell you what the laboratory report will say about my health. I can only tell you that I have been able to do things that I have not been able to do for years. I also have not had the regular visits to the emergency room. I plan to live a strict healthy life as I thought it off doing. I agree with you on your conclusion of your research work. I will be looking to reading more of your findings in the future concerning the soy in foods that we eat. I will eat in moderation, whatever foods that fit in my choice of diet and are considered to be healthy at this moment and time. It is definitely better than eating a ,processed, mass produced candy bar of any sort that you can buy off of the many shelves in stores, gas station and pharmacies etc. I hope that I was clear in my writing. I did it on my mobile phone. I don’t want to be remiss in the fact that God is my maker and ultimate sustainer of life in home I consult in my search for a healthier me. God bless and happy researching.

    Reply
    • meridith

      Thank you so much for your comment! Good for you for making that change. Best of luck on your continued journey 🙂

      Reply
  2. Colleen Ingram

    Hi. I know that this response is a late one, but I think that maybe the reason that Kind feels they can claim NON gmo is either because, like Trader Joe’s, they source non gmo ingredients that aren’t necessarily organic or the amount is less than 5% of the total weight of the ingredients. Organics and the NON-gmo project have to be 95% of the total ingredient weight organic or non-gmo. That allows for 5% of the total weight to have contamination, as you can’t control EVERYTHING. I may be wrong, but this is my understanding. So even organic products can contain GMO derived ingredients to a small percentage. Bummer…..

    Reply
    • meridith

      Great point and comparison to the recent reports of Trader Joe’s! Our food industry is so frustrating, to say the least. Thank you for leaving a comment! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kristoff

    This is from their FAQ, off the KIND Bars website…

    ARE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS NON-GMO?

    Yes, all of our ingredients are indeed non-GMO, as indicated on our packaging. This includes our soy; our soy comes from Identity Preserved Soybeans (NON-GMO soybeans). Additionally, our gluten-free oats are non-GMO Project verified.

    Reply
    • meridith

      Thanks for this update! This info was not on their site back when I originally wrote this post last year so it’s good to see they have since clarified!

      Reply
      • Aberdeen

        FYI, Non-Gmo Glucose is just a dishonest way of saying Corn Syrup

        Reply
        • Meridith Oram

          Great points! Thank you for your comments.

          Reply
          • Debbie

            If the Kind bar has chocolate in it and the distributor of the chocolate does not get their milk that is rBST free, then there is another issue I have. I looked and did not see anything that said rBST free. I read rBST free on Dryer’s Ice Cream, and reading further it said but we do not know if the suppliers of other ingredients in the ice cream are using rBST products or not. A lot of good that does me. I swear, you have to be a detective to figure out what they are trying to kill you with!!!

  4. Elizabeth Smith

    I have noticed that Kind includes canola oil as an ingredient in some of their foods. Up until just this year, I had never read that canola was anything OTHER than genetically modified rapeseed. Funny how now it is being claimed it to be an organic non gmo food product. Rapeseed is toxic in its unmodified form. For many years I have read about that being true but suddenly it has somehow become transformed to non gmo. Needless to say, I do not eat foods that have canola oil in it regardless of the stories they promote to people about it being healthy. GMO producers all claim it to be healthy and good for you. I will make my own absolutely non gmo snacks.

    Reply
  5. Katherine

    Thanks for your detective work and the contributions of your readers. If you’re interested in healthy snacking, don’t fall victim to marketing. Snacks= raw nuts, raw vegetables, fruit. These Kind bars have so much sugar in them they should be regarded as candy bars, which are eaten as a treat once a week. It is appalling that they are being used as meal replacements.

    Reply
  6. Concerned Person on Health

    You might want to look at government regulation for why KIND Is labeling their products a certain way. They do regulate how and what you can place on labels on products. That, I think, will explain most of what you want to know. It might take a while but it is worth looking up to actually know why these companies state this or that on their product labels.

    Reply
  7. Sandra Baxley

    There is a little known company in Dallas (www.avanisnacks.com) that makes similar type of bars but without soy lecithin or any other emulsifiers for that matter. I believe they are able to do that only because they are handmade at their kitchen and not subcontracted out to large scale bar factories with continuous lines. However, they are only selling it in local grocery stores right now.

    Reply
  8. john

    I know soy milk and muscle milk drives my tongue/throat crazy. Shame on KIND.

    Reply
  9. Aberdeen

    The thing about Kind Bars is they are no different than any other granola bars out there, it’s all marketing, They’re made of the same unhealthy amounts of sugar and calories as other bars and same ingredients, The ” NON-GMO GLUCOSE” in them is just a twisted and dishonest way to label CORN SYRUP on their labels.

    Furthermore, the Brazil Nuts they use in many of their bars are harvested in an incredibly harmful way, (the trees are just chopped down for their nuts in the rainforest to make way for farming and mining)

    Reply
    • andria

      All good points, Aberdeen. I can’t understand why everyone is so enamored by these so called healthy bars which are just glorified granola or cane bars, really. Why not just eat REAL food, people. 😉

      Reply

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