Is granola really healthier than cereal? Here are a few tips to help you find the healthier store-bought option, or make your own!
Healthy meal and snack ideas are often top of mind for those who are staying mindful of their eating habits. Granola is a topic of frequent conversation… and controversy. For a while, granola was seen as a healthy alternative to packaged cereals. In fact, this is one of my favorite definitions of granola from Urban Dictionary:
A new-age/more civilized hippie who can usually be found journaling in an Eno in the middle of the forest, wearing Chaco’s or Birkenstocks and athletic shorts (always ready to hike or go on an adventure at any moment), and a backpack with a CamelBak water bottle attached by a carabiner.
Does this describe anyone you may know?
Unfortunately, most store-bought granolas really do not deserve such a fantastic definition. Many granola brands contain just as much, if not more, added sugar as packaged cereals. Additionally, just like many other packaged foods, the marketing of ingredients is also quite deceiving. Here’s an example:
In one brand that contained a variety of oats, honey, raisins & almonds, you’d guess that the sweetener is coming from honey, right? Flip the box over and the ingredient list tells another story.
The sweetener is really coming from brown sugar…honey is the 12th ingredient on the list.
This particular granola also contains 16 grams of sugar (4 teaspoons) per 1/2 cup serving. That’s more than half the American Heart Association’s daily recommendations. Additionally, how many people eat just one – 1/2 cup serving at a time? Although some of the 13 grams is coming from natural sugars (such as in raisins), it’s hard to determine how much. Fortunately the new nutrition labels with the “added sugars” category will help us with this task.
So, can granola still be part of a healthy diet? Absolutely! Here are a few tips for helping you choose one with less added sugar:
1. Read the ingredient list and note the source of sugar and oil.
2. Check out the grams of sugar per serving on the nutrition label.
Aim for less than 7-8 grams/serving, and try to stick to the serving size! If this doesn’t seem like enough, add some more chopped nuts or fresh fruit.
3. Select a variety of granola that contains nuts and seeds rather than dried fruit.
The nuts and seeds will give you more healthy fats, fiber, and a little protein.
4. The best bet? Make your own!
This way you can control exactly what goes in your granola to make it as nutrient-dense as you’d like. Making your own granola is quite simple, make a large batch on a Sunday morning to enjoy through the week.
For a simple skillet granola, head on over to the original article.
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Katherine Ratliff, MS, RDN is a Minneapolis-based Registered Dietitian with a passion for transforming food into simple, delicious, and nourishing meals. She believes the path to health and happiness comes from focusing on foods that help nourish, heal and grow. By focusing on the six pillars of health, Katherine helps others create vibrant and meaningful lives. To read more, visit her at At Katherine’s Table.