So, you’re back here again, trying to decide on the most nutritious breakfast. While you’d like to be someone who had time to smash avocado and poach eggs every morning, the reality is you’re lucky to inhale a croissant and a coffee on your way to work.
To compromise, you opt for the granola. You bought it from the health food store and it came in a jar so it has to be good for you, right? Hidden beneath a mountain of fresh berries and gut-friendly yoghurt, it’s the picture of great health. But take a closer look and you may be shocked to discover that your nutritious start to the morning isn’t healthy at all.
Many store-bought granolas are full of sugar and high in calories. That being said, they can be nutritious—and delicious—if you know what to look for.
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 you but as a rule of thumb, try to stick to six grams or less per serving and look for sugar additives in the ingredients list.
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 muesli.
Typically, the ‘serving size’ for granola is smaller than that for muesli since granola is denser. 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.
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.
For muesli to transform into its tastier, naughtier alter-ego, granola, it needs to be baked—and 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—or the planet—any favours. Look for brands that use healthier alternatives like coconut or macadamia oil. For example, Byron Bay Macadamia Muesli.
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.
For those of you who don’t have the time to meander supermarket aisles, analysing nutrition labels, here are 7 granolas that are actually good for you. And for those who have ample time, why not make your own?