Sep 12, 2022
Granola: Is It Healthy?
A mixture of nuts, oats, and sweeteners, granola is typically considered a healthy food. Still, when added to the snack, many ingredients bring down its nutritional value. For instance, syrups, chocolate, and oils often contribute to added sugars and fats.
Before you glorify or condemn granola, it is crucial to examine the pros and cons of the food. Only after you understand the benefits and drawbacks of granola can you figure out how it fits into your diet.
A Nutritional Breakdown of Granola
No matter how you look at the food, you cannot deny it is a calorie-dense item. Despite its high caloric count, the right granola is rich in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. Some of the specific nutrients of granola include:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin E
As far as the nutritional breakdown of granola, much of it depends on the brand or product. For example, 50 grams of Kellogg's low-fat granola contains only 195 calories, with 4.4 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. Compared to Gypsy Crunch Roasted Granola at 260 calories for 50 grams, Kellogg's appears to win. However, Gypsy has 7 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Additionally, Gypsy has fewer carbs and sugar than Kellogg's.
In general, when selecting granola, look for nut, seed, or whole grain-based. Granola with sweeteners and more dried fruit will be higher in sugar. Still, depending on the cause of the increased sugar, the granola might still be beneficial. You should be most wary of added sugars.
A Review of the Advantages of Granola
If you wanted to find a scientific study proving the benefits of granola, you'd be hard-pressed to find one. However, you can find research supporting the benefits of several common granola ingredients, such as:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
The primary benefits of granola are that it is rich in protein and fiber. Both protein and fiber contribute to feelings of fullness, which is beneficial when dieting or in between meals. Protein influences the fullness hormones ghrelin and GLP-1. Additionally, fiber can slow the emptying of your stomach, prolonging digestion and making you feel fuller for longer.
Aside from being a protein and fiber powerhouse, granola is easy to take on the go and may offer some other health benefits. According to some research, the ingredients in granola can benefit the body in several ways, including:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Reducing blood sugar
- Reducing cholesterol levels
- Providing antioxidants
- Improving gut health
The Potential Downsides of Granola
While granola is often touted as a healthy snack, the assumption depends on the type of granola you eat. Many commercial granolas are no better than sugar-filled cereals. The overuse of sweeteners like nut butter and refined sugars only contributes to fat content and increases calories. Eating too much sugar and fat can contribute to weight gain and health problems.
As with most foods, the benefits come down to knowing proportions and limiting yourself to the best possible options. When selecting granola, focus on those with no added sugar and made from whole grains. Also, watch for specific ingredients to avoid, such as:
- Chocolate chips
- Dried Fruit
Granola, in the correct form and proportion, is a healthy snack. Still, because of the potential calories, you should limit how much granola you eat on any given day.