I think that the only thing that’s nimble about a new protein bar that claims to be the first ever to combine beauty and nutrition is the marketing speak. Balance Bar’s new Nimble ($15.99 for a box of 12) is a cleverly contrived promise of energy, anti-aging antioxidants and indulgence - all in a few bites.

Personally, I regard bars as emergency food, something to grab on the run that has far fewer guilt points than candy, but not quite the same good karma as a banana. At first nibble, antioxidant Nimble seems to be in the same league. Mostly it is run of the mill whey protein, various sweeteners and vegetable oils. Nimble's justification for being a beauty food comes down to the addition of something called lutein.

I first came across lutein as an antioxidant component of the marigold flower. It does strange and wonderful things including filtering the high-energy, blue wavelengths of light from the visible-light spectrum by as much as 90%. In our own bodies, lutein is concentrated in the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision.

It may even have direct benefits for the skin according to an Italian study where females aged 25 to 50 were given lutein each day over a 12-week period. Apparently, hydration increased by 60%, elasticity by 20%, superficial skin lipids by 50% and lipid oxidation was seen to decrease by 55%. But it is important to note that they were given a topical formulation plus a 10mg daily supplement.

Nimble bars contain less than 2% lutein, peanut oil, salt and a few other things. Basically, this means that they are not a very efficient way of getting your marigold concentrate. Marigolds aren’t the only source of lutein though – it is abundant (up to 45%) in spinach and egg yolks. So you are better off skipping Nimble and quaffing some leafy greens.

Nimble bars just about pass muster as an emergency, low calorie (120 per bar) food source. But they are not convincing as part of an anti-aging regimen or healthy diet.

Ingredients: Protein blend (calcium caseinate, whey protein isolate, whey powder), inulin/oligofructose, glycerin, brown rice syrup, peanut flour, water, palm kernel and palm oil, sugar, canola oil. Contains less than 2% of natural flavor, peanut oil, salt, soy lecithin, caramel color, rebiana (stevia leaf extract), lutein.

Vitamins and Minerals: dicalcium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ascorbic acid, ferric orthophosphate, zinc sulfate, dalpha-tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, d-calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A (from Beta Carotene), pyridoxine hydrochloride, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, riboflavin, folic acid, chromium chloride, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodine, sodium selenite, biotin, sodium molybdate, phytonadione, cholecalciferol, cyanocobalamin.