Is granola healthy? The answer can depend on how you include the snack food in your total eating plan. But in most cases, granola is less healthy than you would imagine. And if you are trying to slim down or maintain your weight, it may be a food that you want to avoid.
|Classic Granola Nutrition Facts|
|Serving Size 1/2 cup (53 g)|
|Per Serving||% Daily Value*|
|Calories from Fat 22|
|Total Fat 2.5g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 1g|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0.5g|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%|
|Calcium 2% · Iron 10%|
|*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet|
A half-cup serving of classic granola contains about 180 calories, about the same as a cookie or other baked treat. Even though many people consider granola to be a healthy food, some store-bought brands and even homemade mixes can be a significant source of empty calories—those are calories that come from added sugar and solid fat. Health experts advise that we limit our intake of empty calorie foods.
Carbs in Granola
You'll consume 36 grams of carbohydrate in a single serving of granola, making this a high-carbohydrate food. Since granola is usually made using whole grains, you'll usually benefit from about four grams of fiber. You'll also consume about five grams of sugar.
Fats in Granola
Most types of granola contain fat. Classic granola provides under three grams of fat per serving.
Protein in Granola
The nuts and grains in granola help to boost the protein grams in granola.
Each serving provides about six grams of protein.
Micronutrients in Granola
Depending on the ingredients, granola can provide substantial micronutrients.
Granola provides vitamin E, thiamin, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid.
Minerals in granola include manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and selenium.
Granola Calories and Nutrition by Brand
How you make granola at home or the brand that you buy can make a big difference in the granola calories, carbs, and fat that you consume.
For example, according to USDA data, one-half cup of homemade granola usually provides 298 calories, 9 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar.
A half-cup serving of low-fat granola provides 214 calories, 5 grams of protein, 44 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, 16 grams sugar, and 3 grams of fat.
And how do the brands compare?
- One half-cup of Sprouts Farmer's Granola provides 240 calories, 3 grams of fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar.
- A half cup of President's Choice Organic Honey Almond Granola provides 194 calories, 7.5 calories from fat, 28 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of sugar.
- One-half cup of Sun Country Granola with Almonds made by Quaker Oats provides 266 calories, over 10 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 11 grams of sugar.
- Cascadian Farms Dark Chocolate Almond Granola provides 187 calories, almost 4 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar if you eat a half-cup serving.
- A single serving (listed at 2/3 cup) of Trader Joe's Just the Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola Cereal provides 220 calories, 34 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams fiber and 12 grams of sugar.
Serving size is also an issue when you evaluate granola nutrition. Some granola brands list a serving size as a one-quarter cup. But many people eat far more than that. Granola is a food that is easy to eat mindlessly, especially when you consume it right out of the bag. As a result, you may eat much more than a single serving.
Since the serving size can vary be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label of your favorite brand before you calculate the calories in your granola.
Granola can provide a quick and convenient source of carbohydrate. Many hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts like to carry granola to fuel their activity when they have a long day of exercise. Granola can also provide a boost of protein if you include nuts, like almonds or walnuts. The fiber from whole grains in granola can help you to feel full for a longer period of time.
But granola can also provide a significant number of calories from added sugar. Some brands are made with added sugar like brown sugar or cane sugar. Also if you buy or make a brand with dried fruit, you'll also get more added sugar.
So should you eat granola or avoid it? It depends on how you use it. If you need a convenient source of carbohydrates, it's a good choice. But dieters might want to skip this food unless they can control the portion size. Eating whole fruit or vegetables at snack time will provide a better source of fiber and healthy calories.
Granola Recipes and Healthy Preparation Ideas
If you make granola at home, you can control the ingredients to fit your nutritional needs. Use these recipes to make your own batch with nearly no fuss.
- Grain-Free Strawberry Granola
- Gluten-Free Coconut Granola
- Healthy Homemade Peanut Butter Granola
- Low-Carb, Sugar-Free Granola
- Almond and Buckwheat Applesauce Granola Recipe
Once you have your batch of healthy granola, throw it on top of a serving of plain non-fat Greek yogurt for a low-calorie meal in the morning. You can also just enjoy it plain with skim milk. Later in the day, enjoy it with a few fresh veggies as a mid-afternoon snack or top a tiny serving of ice cream with berries and granola for a healthier version of an ice cream sundae.
Allergies and Interventions
If you avoid grains or gluten for health reasons, you should avoid granola as it usually contains a blend of whole grains. Additionally, those with nut allergies should only consume brands without nuts and be sure that there has been no cross-contamination in the processing.
Lastly, since this is usually a food that contains added sugars and dried fruit, those who monitor blood sugar and try to avoid high sugar intake may want to avoid granola.