GRANOLA - HEALTHY OR NOT?
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 find out if granola is good for you!
HOW TO CHOOSE A HEALTHY GRANOLA
Granola has become a favorite morning breakfast cereal in many households. Both adults and kids enjoy it! With its sweet, crunchy, and yummy healthy ingredients, it's indeed a favorite at the breakfast buffet!
And surely it must be healthy with all those oats, nuts, and dried fruit, right?!
Well, spoiler alert!
Like many other "healthy" foods, such as protein bars, flavored yogurt, and fruit juice, the notion that granola is healthy can be misleading.
Yes, granola can be healthy, but it can also be precisely 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 conscious of the granola you choose and the portion size.
You'll also want to check for added sugars, fats, oils, and sodium. Minimally processed granola with natural ingredients like oats, nuts, and seeds is your best bet.
Our wide variety of super tasty granolas, Lavender Blueberry, Strawberry Rose, and Cherry Almond, just to name a few, are a fantastic start ;-). Get shopping here!
Let's have a look at the individual ingredient suggestions below!
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 tastier.
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!
Added sugars should not exceed 10 percent of your total calories daily. That's 50 grams of sugar for someone eating 2 000 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 & 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!
The fat content will likely be higher if the mixture contains nuts and seeds. Still, most of it will come from healthy unsaturated fats that satisfy hunger and are a vital energy source.
The body needs these good fats to function optimally. It helps to protect our organs, regulates body temperature, and absorbs essential vitamins and minerals.
Oats - The Essential Base------
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 that offers many health benefits. 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.
Nuts, Seeds, & Dried Fruit------
Healthy granola should always contain few, but highly nutritious ingredients, that will benefit your health.
Aside from whole oats, healthy granola should contain many nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that increase the nutritional content.
These wholesome ingredients contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and heart-healthy fats. All offer unique benefits, such as filling you up, fighting inflammation and chronic diseases, and increasing your daily nutrient intake.
Fiber For The Win------
Dietary fiber is crucial for your health; ideally, your granola should contribute to your daily fiber intake.
Fiber helps promote a healthy digestive system and regulate digestion. It balances cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can keep 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 from naturally fiber-rich foods like whole grains, nuts, and fruits.
The Dreaded Calories------
Although super tasty and satisfying, your beloved morning granola is quite calorie-dense.
With its many ingredients (especially nuts and seeds), granola has more calories than 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, beware, granola can quickly increase your daily calorie count.
THE BENEFITS OF GRANOLA
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.
Can Assist In Weight Loss
Oats are high in fiber and create a feeling of fullness by bulking up food and absorbing water. Fiber has also been shown to help with weight loss.
Nuts increase your protein and healthy fat intake, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and making you snack less.
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.
Can Help With Disease Prevention
Antioxidants fight free-radical damage that causes serious chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Improves Blood Pressure
Decreases Cholesterol Levels
Oats contain beta-glucan (insoluble fiber), which has been shown to reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol levels.
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 Pressure
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.
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.