Hidden beneath a mountain of fresh berries and gut-friendly yoghurt, granola is the picture of good health. But take a closer look and often you’ll be shocked to discover that your “healthy” start to the morning is actually loaded with sugar and high in calories – bet you wish you’d just been eating donuts.
Before you banish your maple oat clusters for good, granola CAN be a nutritious breakfast as oats are a good source of fibre and protein, while nuts are rich in omega-3 fats (the good stuff). As with any “health products”, wrapped in brown packaging and waving a gluten-free/raw/paleo flag, we must be mindful of marketing and check what’s on the label.
Tips and tricks for choosing a good (for you) granola
1. Check the sugar
Granolas can be laden with sugar. While some of the sugar content will come from dried fruit, the rest may be hiding under a pseudonym – molasses, brown rice syrup, agave and evaporated cane juice are all versions of the white stuff. Some natural sugars are good for us but as a rule of thumb, try to stick to six grams or less per serving and look for sugar additives in the ingredients.
2. Watch the calories
A healthier granola will sit around 200 calories per 45 gram serving but as with any food, assess what your daily diet requires and what you’re happy to forego on your morning meal.
3. Control your portion size
Typically, the ‘serving size’ for granola is smaller than that for muesli since granola is more dense. It is often around 35 to 45 grams, which, as much as we’d like it to, does not equate to a full bowl of grainy-goodness (unless you’re eating out of an egg cup). If you find a granola you love that is slightly higher in sugar/fat/calories than this guide suggests, perhaps alter your serving size rather than giving it up altogether or mix it with a healthy bran or wholegrain cereal.
4. Trim the fat
Granolas that are jam-packed with nuts and seeds provide a good source of unsaturated fats but sadly even these can add up. Ideally, look for those with two to three grams per 1/4 cup. This can be extremely difficult to find so we’ve done the hard work for you and sourced two of our favourites: Paleo Pure and Green Press Cereal Killer granola.
5. Source the oils
For muesli to transform into its tastier, naughtier alter-ego, granola, it needs to be baked, usually with oil. The oil used can make a huge difference to the nutritional value of the product. Many granolas list hydrogenated oils and palm oil which won’t do your heart any favours. Look for brands that use healthier alternatives like coconut or macadamia oil. For example, Byron Bay Macadamia Muesli.
6. Read the ingredients
In Australia, the national Food Standards Code dictates that the ingredients on food labels be listed in descending order of ingoing weight. In other words, if the number one ingredient is a form of sugar, oil or the like, pop it back on the shelf. Next, check for things you’ve never heard of and other sneaky fillers like inulin and soy protein isolate. If you’re struggling to pronounce it, chances are your system will struggle to digest it.