Looking for a healthy alternative to cereal, or maybe a portable snack?
Perhaps a crunchy topping for yogurt?
If so, there’s a high likelihood that your thoughts have turned to granola. Like cereal, multiple flavors and brands are available.
But is granola healthy?
Sadly, no. Granola is higher in calories, sugar, and fat than traditional breakfast cereal, making it a not-so-great inclusion to a healthy diet.
So what happens to granola that makes it so unhealthy? Can’t they make granola healthy? After all, it starts off as oats, right?
Consider the texture and flavor of raw oats: pliant, soft, and plain.
Granola, on the other hand, is crunchy and sweet: the product of fat and sugar. There’s the granola healthy barrier. The oil, butter, sugar, honey, or syrup added in production increases the Calorie content of the finished product dramatically.
A ½ cup of plain oats contains 150 calories, while a mere ½ cup of Bear Naked Granola contains 280 calories: nearly three times the calories for half the portion size.
What about the fat and sugar content? A ½ cup of plain oats contains 2.5 g fat and 0g sugar, whereas that same ½ cup of granola contains a whopping 14g fat and 12g sugar.
Of course, it’s helpful to put these numbers into context. For those keeping track, that’s 48% of the maximum recommendation for added sugar, and more sugar than a cup of sugary “kids” cereal like Froot Loops.
What should you do if you’re looking for a granola healthy alternative as a crunchy topper or snack?
First, consider calorie content: if you’re going granola for a topper, stick to a tablespoon or so.
Want a bigger portion? Look for a lower-calorie, lower-sugar cereal. The reduced calorie and sugar load will reward you with more crunchy topper to go around.
Better yet, consider skipping a crunchy topping altogether, in favor of high-fiber, naturally sweet whole fruit. While slicing a banana or sprinkling berries atop your yogurt may sound less exciting than hyper-sweet granola, it’s much healthier, adding fiber and volume to help you feel fuller longer.