Is Granola Good For You? The Absolute Truth!

 

The short, simple answer to this question - yes.

The longer answer - When eaten in moderation and depending on the ingredients, granola is good for you.

But, (there's always a but!) there are some things you need to consider and fine comb in your favorite morning breakfast.

So let's dig deeper to get to the truth.
 

How To Choose a Healthy Granola

Granola has become a favorite morning breakfast cereal in many households. Both adults and kids enjoy it!
Granola is always a hit with its sweet, crunchy, and yummy healthy ingredients! It's indeed a favorite at the breakfast buffet! 
Surely it must be healthy with all those oats, nuts, and dried fruit, right?!
Well, spoiler alert!
Like many other "healthy" foods such as cereal, yogurt, and fruit juice, the notion that granola is healthy can be misleading.
Yes, granola can be healthy, but it can also be exactly the opposite! And that's why you need to read the labels and know what to look for in your favorite granola, as not all are created equal.
 

How can you identify a good brand of granola?

Start scrutinizing the ingredients!
International regulations require companies to list ingredients by quantity, from highest to lowest. If sweeteners (e.g., honey, syrups, sugars) and oils appear at the beginning of the list, you need to be more concious of the granola you choose and portion size.
You'll want to keep an eye out for the added sugars, fats, oils used, and sodium content.  It also has to contain primarily natural ingredients like oats, nuts, and seeds.

Minimally processed granola with natural ingredients is your best bet.

 

 

Granola Ingredient Guideline

The Sugar Trap

Unfortunately, like many kinds of cereal, granola can be sugar-laden. Brands often add extra sugar such as honey, syrups, fruit syrups, dried fruit, and chocolate to make it extra sweet and more appetizing.
Although honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar sound healthier and are less processed than corn syrup or cane sugar, it still counts towards your daily sugar intake. SO be careful! 
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars should not exceed 10 percent of your total calories per day. That's 50 grams of sugar for someone eating 2, 000 calories per day and 40g if you eat 1, 600 calories per day. 
Some natural sugars are ok but as a rule of thumb, try to stick to six to eight grams or less per serving.
 

Fats and Oils - Friend or Foe?

Baked granola often contains oils, such as palm oil or hydrogenated oil, which are saturated fats and won't favor your heart or the planet
When baked with heart-healthy and sustainable oils like sunflower, flaxseed, olive, macadamia, or coconut oil, your granola becomes healthier!
If the mixture contains nuts and seeds, the fat content will likely be higher. Still, most of it will come from healthy unsaturated fats. These help to satisfy hunger and are a vital source of energy. 

Granola that has more total fat isn't necessarily bad for you.
The body needs these good fats to function optimally. It helps to protect our organs, regulates body temperature, and absorbs essential vitamins and minerals.
 

Nuts, Seeds, and Fruit Content

Healthy granola should contain few but very nutritious ingredients that will benefit your health.
Aside from whole oats, healthy granola should contain many nuts, seeds, and dried fruits
These wholesome ingredients contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and heart-healthy fats. All offer their own unique benefits and contribute to your daily nutrient intake.

Oats - Without it, There's No Granola...

Oats are the basis of any healthy granola and should be the first item on the ingredient list.  This is after all, what makes granola, granola...
Oats are a good source of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber, offering many health benefits (1). 70 g of oats can provide about 3 g of beta-glucan.
But, the type of oats used will make a significant difference.
Whole-grain oats like rolled or steel-cut oats are always better than instant oats, as they are less processed and contain more fiber

Fiber for the Win!

Dietary fiber is crucial for your health, and you want your granola to add to your daily fiber intake.

Fiber helps promote a healthy digestive system and helps regulate digestion. It balances cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can keep the weight gain down!

A meal rich in fiber will also keep you fuller for longer.
Healthy granola must contain at least 3 grams of fiber, which comes from naturally fiber-rich foods like whole grains, nuts, and fruits.
NOT from isolated, highly-processed fiber sources like cellulose or dextrin powders. They are processed and won't do you any good.
 

The Dreaded Calories

Although super tasty and satisfying, your beloved morning breakfast choice is quite calorie-dense.
With its many ingredients (especially nuts and seeds), granola has more calories than many other breakfast cereals.
Case in point, too much of a good thing is not that good. Anything in excess usually becomes unhealthy. Dieticians agree that a good portion of granola is about 30-50g, equivalent to ¼ - ½ a cup.
If you are on a diet to lose weight and are restricting (or counting) calories, granola can quickly increase your daily calorie count.
 

So How Does Granola Benefit Me?

Looking at the info above, you may wonder if granola is really healthy and if it offers any health benefits at all.
Sure it does! 
The natural ingredients in granola, such as oats, nuts, and seeds, are very nutritious!

Here's how granola can benefit your health:
 

Granola is Nutrient Dense

Granola and its ingredients contain various nutrients which are good for your health. It is an excellent zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, and vitamin B source. The nutritional content will vary and depend on the recipe and ingredients used.
 

Weight Loss

Oats are high in fiber(2) and create a feeling of fullness by bulking up food and absorbing water. Fiber has also be shown to directly help with weight loss. 

Nuts increase your protein (3) and healthy fat intake, which also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, making you snack lessRead more here about nuts and their health benefits
But be cautious. As mentioned earlier, the calories count up quickly. So make sure you eat the recommended serving size to keep track of your calories.
 

Disease Prevention

Dried fruit, seeds (4), and nuts (5) contain antioxidants and vitamin E, which help lower inflammation in the body.
Antioxidants fight free-radical damage that causes serious chronic diseases like cancer and heart diseases.
 

Improves Blood Pressure

Certain foods, like flaxseeds (6), fruits, and whole grains, can reduce high blood pressure (7) due to their fiber content
 

Decreases Cholesterol Levels

Oats contain beta-glucan (insoluble fiber), which has been shown to reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol levels (8).

Nuts like almonds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are known for increasing HDL "good" cholesterol levels.
 

Reduces High Blood Sugar

Whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits contain fiber, which slows the rate at which your body digests sugar and carbohydrates. This prevents a spike in blood sugar levels.


 

Granola Health Verdict

So is granola good for you? Yes, if you choose and consume it wisely
As with all things in life, moderation is key! You can still enjoy your favorite morning cereal, and you should! 
Often, we need to embrace the things we enjoy instead of depriving ourselves of what we love.

Enjoy your favorite granola and practice portion control by:
  • Adding it as a topping to your yogurt, fruit, or pancakes.
  • Adding it to salads or a trail mix for added crunch.
  • Mixing it with a lower-calorie cereal to increase the portion but limit your calorie intake
  • Or grab a handful for a snack between meals.
 

Country Life Natural Foods Granola

We are crazy about granola here at Country Life Natural Foods!

So much so that we chose to make our very own slow-baked healthy granolas, using natural, good-for-you ingredients! 

Our granolas are the perfect way to start your day. Baked for 10 hours, it retains its nutrients and crunch.
Naturally sweetened and crunchy with a healthy dose of protein, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you energized and satisfied all day!




ALMOND DELICIOUS GRANOLA - A classic favorite with almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flavored with vanilla.

CHERRY ALMOND GRANOLA - The perfect balance of tartness and sweetness with cherries, coconut, almonds, and sunflower seeds.




MAPLE PECAN GRANOLA - Flavored with a deep caramel maple syrup, with added shredded coconut, pecan pieces, and sunflower seeds.

MORNING MANNA GRANOLA - Not a fan of nuts? This classic morning favorite contains oats, coconut chips, and sunflower seeds. No nuts!

CASHEW & DATE DELIGHT GRANOLA - A tad more sweetness with maple syrup, date paste, vanilla, and added cashews, coconut, and sunflower seeds.





Sources:
1. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-beta-glucan#1
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559033/
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18469287/
4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31086922/
5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28888463/
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25740909/
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29153856/
8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25411276/

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