Granola is a popular food item available anywhere groceries are sold. From commercial brands to health food store specialties, granola has boomed in popularity among the health conscious snackers of the world. But recently there has been some debate: is granola healthy?
We will help you find the answer to this question in this article.
What Is Granola?
Granola refers to a variety of oats and cereal grains packaged together in a certain blend. Some varieties include fruit or other add-ins. The dangers of these added ingredients will be discussed below.
Granola is usually made with whole grain oats which are packed full of fiber and seeds and nuts which contain fatty acids. Together, these ingredients offer your body sustained energy and nutrition that will leave your boxed cereal in the dust.
Where Is Granola Found?
Commercial granola can be found in the cereal or snack aisle of your local grocery store. Health food stores usually carry bulk or raw granola in self-serve containers.
You can also make your own granola mix by taking the raw ingredients and mixing them together yourself. Some who wonder is granola healthy?, choose to do this so that they can control what is inside of their snack.
The Dangers of Granola
The issues that come up when determining is granola healthy usually have nothing to do with the part that makes up the actual granola. The problems start when things start sneaking into granola mixtures that are not seeds or whole grains.
- Dried fruit, chocolate, peanut butter, yogurt, and honey all will increase the calories and sugars found inside of your favorite granola. In some cases, a serving of sugary granola can contain more sugar than your favorite dessert! For this reason, many healthy snack lovers opt for raw granola that don’t add honey or other sweeteners to their blends.
- Another issue in the is granola healthy debate is serving size. Pay attention to the serving size of your favorite granola. Chances are it is less than half of a cup. The issue is that many people snack on granola out of the bag where they can’t see serving sizes easily, or they eat it as if it is a regular cereal. This means you are consuming double or even triple the calories that you think you are. While granola does have some healthy components (discussed below), the calories consumed can easily overshadow them, especially for those trying to maintain or lose weight.
- The last danger of granola to see if it really is granola healthy discussion is granola bars. These snacks, while convenient, are just as full of added sugars and calories as the bagged versions mentioned above.
Are There Benefits to Granola?
Is granola healthy for you when consumed in moderation? The first health benefit people usually think of when they want to add granola to their diet is the fiber. Fiber is vital in healthy digestion. The whole grains contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both of these types are needed for a healthy digestive system free from build-up and constipation.
Another benefit of granola is the fatty acids found in nuts and seeds. These healthy fats are an important part of brain, heart, and immune system health.
Granola also brings tons of vitamins and minerals to the table. Our bodies don’t need much of these, but we are often lacking in them anyway in our regular diets:
- Vitamin E;
All of these nutrients help our bodies fight off disease and optimize many of our systems.
If you want the benefits of a granola snack but want to avoid the added sugars found in many of them, you can opt for bran or oatmeal if you can’t find a reduced-fat granola that you like.
For those trying to lose weight, granola may seem like a better idea than reaching for that candy bar or bag of chips. Nutrition wise, this is true. However, the calories consumed from eating too much granola can cancel out the benefits of choosing it over a less healthy treat. While the fats and other nutrients can support your body, you will not see ideal weight loss and could even gain some weight with too much granola consumption.
When making your own decision whether is granola healthy or not, remember that it depends on what else is in there. If your granola ingredients list sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or other sweeteners, you may want to stay away. When you get a back of granola, portion it out into small bags or containers. Another option is to use a small amount of granola (just a tablespoon or two) on top of your favorite yogurt or oatmeal.
Do you have a great homemade granola recipe? We would love to hear about your favorite granola snacks. Leave us a comment below with your thoughts and experiences about the big question: is granola healthy?
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