A local snack with big benefits: The Pranam Superfoods Bar aims to combine natural ingredients and major health benefits

From supplements and juices to cleanses and vitamins, the health food industry is brimming with products claiming to cure the body of what ails us and leave us in the best shape ever. Often, though, it can be hard to decipher what is legit and what’s a sugary snack disguised as something more.

That’s where Joseph Francis comes in. A professor and neuroscientist at LSU, Francis was performing research for his doctoral program when he decided to use his knowledge of alternative and holistic medicines to make a product as good for you as it is good to eat. He teamed up with the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator to make nutrient rich bars that use natural ingredients. His Pranam Superfoods Bars are now being sold across the state, with plans to expand sales nationwide.

The beauty of the bars, Francis says, is their health-conscious ingredients. The organic, natural and dairy-free bars are made with quinoa, which contains all essential amino acids. The bars also uses honey and coconut oil as binders instead of more common substances and sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup.

But the real star? Antioxidants. There are quite a few antioxidants present in the bars, which are believed to help with chronic diseases and inflammation. Francis says free radicals are created when the body undergoes high oxidative stress. While some free radicals are good, too many can damage DNA, proteins and fatty tissue, which eventually leads to inflammation throughout the body.

“Initially inflammation is a good thing because it’s trying to protect your body,” Francis says. “But over time, when your body does not have enough antioxidants to scavenge free radicals, the inflammation goes uncontrolled. By using antioxidants from several sources, we are trying to stimulate your androgynous antioxidant system.”

One of the most prominent antioxidants in the bars are polyphenols. While the normal daily intake of polyphenols is 10 milligrams for men and 12.5 milligrams for women, each bar contains over 100 milligrams of the micronutrient. This increase is aimed at arming the body with antioxidants, limiting and lessening inflammation and helping to combat chronic diseases.

Beyond those health benefits, the bars are just plain tasty, with four different flavors to choose from. And while sugary bars with obvious artificial flavoring tend to saturate the market, Pranam Superfood Bars taste like real fruit and is low in sugar.

I tried the Powerful Pomegranate flavor and was impressed with the tart taste of the fruit mixed with the nuttiness of the quinoa. The texture and consistency of the bar was well executed, too—it held its shape instead of crumbling all over the place and making a mess.

Pranam Superfood Bars are currently sold in 19 stores throughout Louisiana, including Maxwell’s Market, Calandro’s Supermarket, Matherne’s Market and Calvin’s Bocage Market. Francis and his team are working to get them in more stores and even looking to expand to Texas and beyond. He remains confident in his product among the hundreds of bars and supplements currently on the market, promising if customers just try the bars, they will be hooked.

“We believe in the holistic power of our product,” Francis says.