Granola

What is granola

Granola is a cereal-like breakfast food and snack food consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey or other sweeteners such as brown sugar, and sometimes puffed rice, that is usually baked until it is crisp, toasted and golden brown. During the baking process, the mixture is stirred to maintain a loose breakfast cereal consistency. Dried fruits, such as raisins and dates, and confections such as chocolate are sometimes added. Granola breakfast cereal, particularly if it includes flax seeds, is often used to improve digestion. Granola breakfast cereal is often eaten in combination with yogurt, honey, fresh fruit (such as bananas, strawberries or blueberries), milk or other forms of cereal. It also serves as a topping for various pastries, desserts or ice cream. Though granola is a good source of protein and fiber, granola can also be high in sugar, fat and calories, especially the store-bought varieties. It’s best to watch your portion sizes or create your own healthier granola to limit the amount of fat, calories and sugar in each serving.

How many calories should breakfast provide ?

A helpful rule of thumb to maintain a healthy weight is to follow the 400-600-600 kcal approach.

That means having about:

  • 400kcal for breakfast (including any drinks and accompaniments)
  • 600kcal for lunch (including any drinks and accompaniments)
  • 600kcal for dinner (including any drinks and accompaniments)

That leaves you with just enough left over to enjoy a few healthy drinks and snacks throughout the day. This advice is based on a adult’s daily recommended calorie intake of 2,000kcal.

You might get about 150kcal from a 35g serving of granola (approx. only depending on make and brands). You could add a medium sliced banana and 200ml of semi-skimmed milk, which altogether would provide about 350kcals.

You need fuel in the morning, and starting the day with a filling breakfast can help you avoid reaching for a less healthy mid-morning snack to keep you going until lunch.

Granola nutrition

Granola calories depends on the added sugar and fat content of the granola breakfast cereal.

Table 1. Granola nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 g
Approximates
Energykcal418
Proteing10.91
Total lipid (fat)g14.55
Carbohydrate, by differenceg63.64
Fiber, total dietaryg5.5
Sugars, totalg23.64
Minerals
Calcium, Camg73
Iron, Femg2.86
Sodium, Namg227
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0
Vitamin A, IUIU0
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg0
Fatty acids, total transg0
Cholesterolmg0

Ingredients: Oats, Maple syrup, Brown sugar, Canola oil, Vanilla, Sea salt, Cinnamon.
Manufacturer: Good Life

[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 1)]

Table 2. Granola nutrition facts

NutrientUnitcup 55 g Value per 100 g
Approximates
Energykcal240436
Proteing610.91
Total lipid (fat)g712.73
Carbohydrate, by differenceg3970.91
Fiber, total dietaryg47.3
Sugars, totalg1221.82
Minerals
Calcium, Camg2036
Iron, Femg1.312.38
Potassium, Kmg140255
Sodium, Namg70127
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg00
Vitamin A, IUIU00
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg1.0011.82
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg3.4986.36
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg2.5024.55
Fatty acids, total transg00
Cholesterolmg00

Ingredients: Whole grain rolled oats, cane sugar, canola oil, rice flour, flax seed, honey, flax seed meal, freeze dried blueberries, salt, natural flavor, barley malt syrup, mixed tocopherols (to maintain freshness).
Manufacturer: Post

[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 2)]

Table 3. Granola bars (plain and hard) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 g
Approximates
Waterg3.9
Energykcal471
EnergykJ1972
Proteing10.1
Total lipid (fat)g19.8
Ashg1.9
Carbohydrate, by differenceg64.4
Fiber, total dietaryg5.3
Sugars, totalg28.57
Minerals
Calcium, Camg61
Iron, Femg2.95
Magnesium, Mgmg97
Phosphorus, Pmg277
Potassium, Kmg336
Sodium, Namg294
Zinc, Znmg2.03
Copper, Cumg0.392
Manganese, Mnmg1.777
Selenium, Seµg16.2
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0.9
Thiaminmg0.264
Riboflavinmg0.119
Niacinmg1.581
Pantothenic acidmg0.813
Vitamin B-6mg0.085
Folate, totalµg23
Folic acidµg0
Folate, foodµg23
Folate, DFEµg23
Choline, totalmg22
Betainemg6.9
Vitamin B-12µg0
Vitamin B-12, addedµg0
Vitamin A, RAEµg2
Retinolµg0
Carotene, betaµg17
Carotene, alphaµg6
Cryptoxanthin, betaµg0
Vitamin A, IUIU33
Lycopeneµg0
Lutein + zeaxanthinµg189
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg2.09
Vitamin E, addedmg0
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)µg0
Vitamin DIU0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)µg14.6
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg2.37
04:00:00g0
06:00:00g0
08:00:00g0
10:00:00g0
12:00:00g0.01
14:00:00g0.01
16:00:00g1.54
18:00:00g0.76
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg4.38
16:1 undifferentiatedg0.01
18:1 undifferentiatedg4.37
20:01:00g0.13
22:1 undifferentiatedg0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg12.05
18:2 undifferentiatedg11.99
18:3 undifferentiatedg0.06
18:04:00g0
20:4 undifferentiatedg0
20:5 n-3 (EPA)g0
22:5 n-3 (DPA)g0
22:6 n-3 (DHA)g0
Cholesterolmg0
Amino Acids
Tryptophang0.177
Threonineg0.264
Isoleucineg0.352
Leucineg0.724
Lysineg0.4
Methionineg0.177
Cystineg0.304
Phenylalanineg0.479
Tyrosineg0.352
Valineg0.508
Arginineg0.674
Histidineg0.216
Alanineg0.46
Aspartic acidg0.83
Glutamic acidg1.975
Glycineg0.499
Prolineg0.518
Serineg0.47
Other
Alcohol, ethylg0
Caffeinemg0
Theobrominemg0
Isoflavones
Daidzeinmg0.05
Genisteinmg0.07
Total isoflavonesmg0.13
Biochanin Amg0
Formononetinmg0
Coumestrolmg0.01
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 3)]

Table 4. Granola bars (plain and soft and uncoated) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 gbar (1 oz) 28 g
Approximates
Waterg6.41.79
Energykcal443124
Proteing7.42.07
Total lipid (fat)g17.24.82
Carbohydrate, by differenceg67.318.84
Fiber, total dietaryg4.61.3
Minerals
Calcium, Camg10529
Iron, Femg2.560.72
Magnesium, Mgmg7421
Phosphorus, Pmg23064
Potassium, Kmg32591
Sodium, Namg27878
Zinc, Znmg1.50.42
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg00
Thiaminmg0.2950.083
Riboflavinmg0.1650.046
Niacinmg0.5150.144
Vitamin B-6mg0.10.028
Folate, DFEµg247
Vitamin B-12µg0.390.11
Vitamin A, RAEµg00
Vitamin A, IUIU00
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg7.252.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg3.821.07
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg5.321.49
Cholesterolmg00
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 4)]

Table 5. Granola bars (soft, uncoated and raisin) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 gbar (1.5 oz) 43 g bar (1 oz) 28 g
Approximates
Waterg6.42.751.79
Energykcal448193125
Proteing7.63.272.13
Total lipid (fat)g17.87.654.98
Carbohydrate, by differenceg66.428.5518.59
Fiber, total dietaryg4.21.81.2
Minerals
Calcium, Camg1014328
Iron, Femg2.441.050.68
Magnesium, Mgmg723120
Phosphorus, Pmg2209562
Potassium, Kmg362156101
Sodium, Namg28212179
Zinc, Znmg1.30.560.36
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg000
Thiaminmg0.2310.0990.065
Riboflavinmg0.1630.070.046
Niacinmg1.1010.4730.308
Vitamin B-6mg0.1030.0440.029
Folate, DFEµg2196
Vitamin B-12µg0.180.080.05
Vitamin A, RAEµg000
Vitamin A, IUIU000
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg9.574.1152.68
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg2.841.2210.795
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg3.211.380.899
Cholesterolmg000
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 5)]

Table 6. Granola bars (hard and chocolate chip) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 goz 28.35 g bar 24 g
Approximates
Waterg2.40.680.58
Energykcal438124105
Proteing7.32.071.75
Total lipid (fat)g16.34.623.91
Carbohydrate, by differenceg72.120.4417.3
Fiber, total dietaryg4.41.21.1
Minerals
Calcium, Camg772218
Iron, Femg3.050.860.73
Magnesium, Mgmg722017
Phosphorus, Pmg2045849
Potassium, Kmg2517160
Sodium, Namg3449883
Zinc, Znmg1.930.550.46
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0.100
Thiaminmg0.180.0510.043
Riboflavinmg0.10.0280.024
Niacinmg0.5550.1570.133
Vitamin B-6mg0.0580.0160.014
Folate, DFEµg1343
Vitamin B-12µg0.0100
Vitamin A, RAEµg210
Vitamin A, IUIU421210
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg11.413.2352.738
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg2.630.7460.631
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg1.270.360.305
Cholesterolmg000
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 6)]

Table 7. Granola bars (hard and almond) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 goz 28.35 g bar 24 g
Approximates
Waterg3.10.880.74
Energykcal495140119
Proteing7.72.181.85
Total lipid (fat)g25.57.236.12
Carbohydrate, by differenceg6217.5814.88
Fiber, total dietaryg4.81.41.2
Minerals
Calcium, Camg3298
Iron, Femg2.50.710.6
Magnesium, Mgmg812319
Phosphorus, Pmg2286555
Potassium, Kmg2737766
Sodium, Namg2567361
Zinc, Znmg1.580.450.38
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg000
Thiaminmg0.280.0790.067
Riboflavinmg0.070.020.017
Niacinmg0.610.1730.146
Vitamin B-6mg0.0470.0130.011
Folate, DFEµg1233
Vitamin B-12µg000
Vitamin A, RAEµg210
Vitamin A, IUIU37109
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg12.513.5473.002
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg7.742.1941.858
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg3.761.0660.902
Cholesterolmg000
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 7)]

Table 8. Granola bars (non-fat and fruit filled) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 g
Approximates
Waterg13.7
Energykcal342
Proteing5.9
Total lipid (fat)g0.9
Carbohydrate, by differenceg77.6
Fiber, total dietaryg7.4
Sugars, totalg45.24
Minerals
Calcium, Camg3
Iron, Femg4
Magnesium, Mgmg50
Phosphorus, Pmg122
Potassium, Kmg220
Sodium, Namg16
Zinc, Znmg1.42
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg1.7
Thiaminmg0.03
Riboflavinmg0.07
Niacinmg0.4
Vitamin B-6mg1.59
Folate, DFEµg527
Vitamin B-12µg0.18
Vitamin A, RAEµg1
Vitamin A, IUIU28
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg0.22
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)µg0
Vitamin DIU0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)µg1.3
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg0.2
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg0.24
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg0.35
Cholesterolmg0
Other
Caffeinemg0
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 8)]

Table 9. Granola bars (uncoated, nut and raisin) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 gbar (1 oz) 28 g
Approximates
Waterg6.11.71
Energykcal454127
Proteing82.24
Total lipid (fat)g20.45.71
Carbohydrate, by differenceg63.617.81
Fiber, total dietaryg5.61.6
Minerals
Calcium, Camg8424
Iron, Femg2.180.61
Magnesium, Mgmg9125
Phosphorus, Pmg24167
Potassium, Kmg392110
Sodium, Namg25471
Zinc, Znmg1.60.45
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg00
Thiaminmg0.190.053
Riboflavinmg0.190.053
Niacinmg2.610.731
Vitamin B-6mg0.120.034
Folate, DFEµg308
Vitamin B-12µg0.240.07
Vitamin A, RAEµg21
Vitamin A, IUIU4111
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg9.542.671
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg4.221.182
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg5.521.546
Cholesterolmg00
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 9)]

Table 10. Granola bars (hard and peanut butter) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 goz 28.35 g bar 24 g
Approximates
Waterg2.30.650.55
Energykcal483137116
Proteing9.82.782.35
Total lipid (fat)g23.86.755.71
Carbohydrate, by differenceg62.317.6614.95
Fiber, total dietaryg2.90.80.7
Minerals
Calcium, Camg411210
Iron, Femg2.40.680.58
Magnesium, Mgmg551613
Phosphorus, Pmg1393933
Potassium, Kmg2918270
Sodium, Namg2838068
Zinc, Znmg1.250.350.3
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0.20.10
Thiaminmg0.210.060.05
Riboflavinmg0.090.0260.022
Niacinmg1.970.5580.473
Vitamin B-6mg0.0960.0270.023
Folate, DFEµg1854
Vitamin B-12µg000
Vitamin A, RAEµg100
Vitamin A, IUIU1654
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg3.20.9070.768
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg71.9851.68
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg12.083.4252.899
Cholesterolmg000
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 10)]

Table 11. Granola bars (coconut and chocolate coated) nutrition facts

NutrientUnitValue per 100 goz 28.35 g
Approximates
Waterg6.11.73
Energykcal531151
Proteing5.21.47
Total lipid (fat)g32.29.13
Carbohydrate, by differenceg55.215.65
Fiber, total dietaryg6.21.8
Sugars, totalg34.279.72
Minerals
Calcium, Camg4212
Iron, Femg1.750.5
Magnesium, Mgmg5616
Phosphorus, Pmg15444
Potassium, Kmg25472
Sodium, Namg15243
Zinc, Znmg1.170.33
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg0.50.1
Thiaminmg0.140.04
Riboflavinmg0.080.023
Niacinmg0.420.119
Vitamin B-6mg0.120.034
Folate, DFEµg93
Vitamin B-12µg0.070.02
Vitamin A, RAEµg00
Vitamin A, IUIU00
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg0.30.09
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)µg00
Vitamin DIU00
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)µg1.40.4
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturatedg22.726.441
Fatty acids, total monounsaturatedg4.971.409
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturatedg3.10.879
Cholesterolmg00
Other
Caffeinemg31
[Source: United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 11)]

How to find the best granola bars

Read the Nutrition Labels on the granola bars packaging.

Nutrition labels can help you choose between granola bars and keep a check on the amount of granola you’re eating that are high in fat, salt and added sugars.

Most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on the back or side of the packaging. These labels include information on energy in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal), usually referred to as calories.

They also include information on fat, saturates (saturated fat), carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt. All nutrition information is provided per 100 grams and sometimes per portion of the food.

Supermarkets and food manufacturers now highlight the energy, fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content on the front of the packaging, alongside the reference intake for each of these.

You can use nutrition labels to help you choose the best granola bar.

How do I know if granola or a granola bar is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt ?

There are guidelines to tell you if a granola cereal or granola bar is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugar, or not. These are:

Total fat

  • High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
  • Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat

  • High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
  • Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g

Sugars

  • High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
  • Moderate: between 5g to 22.5 g of total sugars per 100g
  • Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

Salt

  • High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
  • Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)

For example, if you are trying to cut down on saturated fat, limit your consumption of foods that have more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.

If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, you should avoid foods that have more than 22.5g of sugars per 100g.

Some nutrition labels on the back or side of packaging also provide information about reference intakes.

Sugar, fat and salt levels

You can use the per 100g information on the nutrition label to identify granola or granola bars that are:

High in sugar, fat or salt

  • high in sugar: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
  • high in fat: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
  • high in salt: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g

Low in sugar, fat or salt

  • low in sugar: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
  • low in fat: 3g of saturated fat or less per 100g
  • low in salt: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g

Reference intakes explained

You’ll see reference intakes referred to on food labels. They show you the maximum amount of calories and nutrients you should eat in a day.

  • Nutrition labels can also provide information on how a particular food or drink product fits into your daily diet.
  • Reference intakes are guidelines about the approximate amount of particular nutrients and energy required for a healthy diet.

Daily reference intakes for the average adult aged 19 to 64 are:

  • Energy: 8,400 kJ/2,000kcal (for an average adult male)
  • Total fat: less than 70g
  • Saturates: less than 20g
  • Carbohydrate: at least 260g
  • Total sugars: 90g
  • Protein: 50g
  • Fiber: 35g
  • Salt: less than 2.3g

The reference intake for total sugars includes sugars from milk and fruit, as well as added sugar.

Reference intakes aren’t meant to be targets. They just give you a rough idea of how much energy you should be eating each day and how much fat, sugar, salt and so on.

Unless the label says otherwise, reference intakes are based on an average-sized adult doing an average amount of physical activity.

This is to reduce the risk of people with lower energy requirements eating too much, and to make sure information on labels is clear and consistent.

Where to find reference intakes on food packs

Most of the big supermarkets and many food manufacturers also display nutritional information on the front of pre-packed food. This is very useful when you want to compare different food products at a glance.

If you look closely at food packaging, you’ll see that it usually tells you what percentage of your daily reference intakes each portion of that food contains.

Front-of-pack labels, such as the label in the above image, usually give a quick guide to:

  • energy
  • fat content
  • saturated fat content
  • sugars content
  • salt content

These labels provide information on the number of grams of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, and the amount of energy (in kJ and kcal) in a serving or portion of the food.

  • But be aware that the manufacturer’s idea of a portion may be different from yours.

Some front-of-pack nutrition labels also provide information about reference intakes.

Color-coded nutritional information, as shown in Figure 2. below, tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • Red means high
  • Amber means medium
  • Green means low

In short, the more green on the label, the healthier the choice. If you buy a food that has all or mostly green on the label, you know straight away that it’s a healthier choice.

Amber means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber on the label most of the time.

But any red on the label means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars, and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.

Figure 1. Reference intakes on food packs 

reference intakes on food packs

For example, the label above, taken from a box of pizza, shows that per half (1/2) slice of pizza will provide you with 4.7g of sugars, which is 6% of your daily reference intake for sugars.

The red color shows you that the pizza are high in saturated fat and salt.

Each pizza also contains 10.3g of saturated fat, which is 52% of your reference intake for saturated fat.

The amber color tells you that the pizza slices contain a medium amount (20.3g per 100 g of pizza) of fat.

Green means a food is low in a particular nutrient. These pizza slices, for example, are low in added sugars.

Ingredients list

Most pre-packed food products also have a list of ingredients on the packaging or an attached label. The ingredients list can also help you work out how healthy the product is.

Ingredients are listed in order of weight, so the main ingredients in the packaged food always come first. That means that if the first few ingredients are high-fat ingredients, such as cream, butter or oil, then the food in question is a high-fat food.

Figure 2. Breakfast cereal ingredients list (Oatmeal Crisp cereal)

Breakfast cereal ingredients list

Is granola healthy?

The health benefits of granola in general depends on the amount of oats and whole grains in the granola breakfast cereal or granola bars in addition to the amount of added sugar (sugars content), fat (saturated fat content) and salt (salt content).Consumption of oats or oat based products by individuals with various metabolic disease risk factors (e.g., hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and diabetes) and in different ethnic groups, has been shown to mediate an appreciable normalization of plasma cholesterol levels 12). The cholesterol lowering activity of oats is usually attributed to its ability to reduce intestinal absorption of cholesterol and/or inhibit the enterohepatic circulation of bile acids by increasing carriage of cholesterol and/or bile acids into the colon and facilitating their excretion in feces 13). Whole grain oats contain a number of potentially bioactive components capable of modulating cholesterol metabolism in mammals, including unsaturated fatty acids, fibers, such as beta-glucan, arabinoxylans, arabinogalactans, and resistant starch. Some of these polysaccharides can form viscous gels in aqueous solutions, and/or directly bind cholesterol or bile acids, while all are fermentable by the gut microbiota into short chain fatty  acids (SCFA).

Oats, and whole grain oat Granola also contains polyphenolic compounds and phytoeostrogens which may also modulate the gut microbiota and impact on host metabolic parameters 14). However, it is the gel forming nature of beta-glucans which is most commonly attributed to the cholesterol lowering effect of oats. Tiwari and Cummins 15) performed a meta-analysis on 126 studies and concluded that there was a significant dose-dependent inverse relationship between beta-glucan from oats and barley and blood total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triacylglycerol concentrations with 3 g/day beta-glucan being sufficient to lower blood total cholesterol by −0.30 mmol/L 16). There is significant body of evidence that ingestion of oats, and oat derived fractions, most notably, β-glucan, at 3 g/day, is associated with a significant reduction in blood total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic groups 17). Although, the bile acid and possibly cholesterol binding abilities of β-glucans have been suggested to be responsible for the hypocholesterolemic effects in vivo, other mechanisms may also be involved, including those linked to the human gut microbiota which have not been addressed to date. While the ability of oats and beta-glucans to increase excretion of bile acids and cholesterol in feces appears to be well established, the underlying mechanism still remains to be fully elucidated. Although the gel forming nature of beta-glucans reducing bile acid/cholesterol absorption is the most commonly proposed mechanism, recent studies with probiotic microorganisms raise the possibility of bile salt hydrolase activity as another possible mechanism by which oats and fermentable fibers can lower plasma cholesterol 18). Studies on non-gel forming prebiotic fibers, which modulate gut bacteria and increase bile salt hydrolase active lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, support the hypothesis that an increased bile salt hydrolase activity due to gut bacterial modulation could reduce plasma cholesterol 19).

What is the healthiest granola breakfast cereal

Try looking at the nutrition label and compare brands so you opt for the healthier version.

For a healthier option, choose granola breakfast cereals that contain wholegrains and are lower in sugar, fat and salt.

Whole grains consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grains where the primary components (bran, germ, endosperm) are retained within their natural ratio 20). The putative health enhancing properties of whole grains are attributed to the presence of nutrients and bioactive compounds which are mainly found in the bran and germ 21). Consistent observational evidence associates habitual consumption of wholegrain foods with a wide range of positive impacts on health such as a reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer 22).

Examples include:

  • Wholewheat cereal biscuits
  • Shredded wholegrain pillows
  • Oats
  • Barley

Table 12. Grains included in the HEALTHGRAIN whole grain definition

CerealScientific name
Cereals
 Wheat, including spelt, emmer, faro, einkorn, khorasan wheat1, durumsTriticum spp.
 Rice, including brown, black, red, and other coloured rice varietiesOryza spp.
 Barley, including hull-less or naked barley but not pearledHordeum spp.
 Maize (corn)Zea mays
 RyeSecale spp.
 Oats, including hull-less or naked oatsAvena spp.
 MilletsBrachiaria spp.; Pennisetum spp.; Panicum spp.; Setaria spp.; Paspalum spp.; Eleusine spp.; Echinochloa spp.
 SorghumSorghum spp.
 Teff (tef)Eragrotis spp.
 TriticaleTriticale
 Canary seedPhalaris canariensis*
 Job’s tearsCoizlacryma-jobi
 Fonio, black fonio, Asian milletDigitaria spp.
Pseudocereals
 AmaranthAmaranthus caudatus
 Buckwheat tartar buckwheatFagopyrum spp.
 QuinoaChenopodium quinoa Willd. is generally considered to be a single species within the Chenopodioideae
Wild rice**Zizania aquatica

Notes:

1Khorasan wheat – also known as Kamut (registered trademark).
*In the first version of the definition document two scientific names were erroneously mentioned: Phalaris arundinacea and P. canariensis. The former one is a noxious weed.
**In the first version, wild rice was – incorrectly – listed as a cereal and not as a pseudocereal.
[Source 23)]

Wholegrains contain fiber and B vitamins, among other nutrients. Fiber helps keep your digestive systems healthy. Research suggests a diet high in fiber may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

  • Avoid always going for the same brand, as manufacturers regularly modify their recipes.

Oats, barley, or psyllium-based cereals can help lower cholesterol concentrations (excellent evidence and can be trusted to guide practice), and high-fiber, wheat-based cereals can improve bowel function 24).

Serving cereal with milk or yogurt

Having breakfast cereal is a good opportunity to add calcium to the diet if you serve it with milk or yogurt. Go for semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk, or lower-fat yogurt.

Milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium and protein. Alternatives to cow’s milk include fortified soya, rice and oat drinks.

Adding fruit to cereal

Having cereal is also a good opportunity to get some fruit in the diet. Raisins, dried apricots, bananas and strawberries are popular choices and can be added to any cereal, depending on your tastes.

Adding fruit to cereals is a great way to get kids to eat more fruit. It also helps them enjoy less sugary cereals, as you get sweetness from the fruit.

I don’t have time to sit down for breakfast

It’s a sign of the times that people are increasingly abandoning breakfast cereals, one of the earliest convenience foods, for more convenient “on-the-go” options, such as a breakfast muffin and a latte.

If you’re short on time in the morning, how about setting the table the night before ? You could also grab a pot of porridge on your way to work or have your cereal when you get in.

Cereals are still one of the best value breakfasts out there. A bowl of fortified breakfast cereal with milk gives you more nutrients for your penny when compared with most on-the-go breakfast options.

You could try:

  • Muesli, fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt – fruit added to your muesli counts towards your daily requirements. Low-fat yogurt provides calcium and protein, and is low in fat, but watch out for the sugar content. Go for muesli with no added sugar.
  • Porridge with mashed banana and dried blueberries – put oats and a handful of dried blueberries in a bowl and add semi-skimmed milk. Heat in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often. When cooked, stir in the mashed banana. The mashed banana is a healthier substitute for sugar or honey. For best results, use a very ripe banana.
  • Overnight oats – combine oats and apple juice and let it sit overnight in the fridge. In the morning, add low-fat yogurt, honey to taste, and fresh fruit such as berries.
  • Quick porridge – making porridge is easier than you think: combine 50g of rolled or instant oats with 200ml (or more for runny porridge) of semi-skimmed milk in a bowl and microwave on full power for two minutes. Top with dried fruit or nuts.
  • Baked beans (low sugar & low salt variety) on wholemeal toast – not only are they naturally low in fat, baked beans are also packed with fibre and protein, making them a vegetarian source of protein. Look out for reduced salt and sugar ranges.
  • Banana bagel sandwich – mash a ripe banana and serve it between two halves of a toasted (preferably wholemeal) bagel. Mashing instead of slicing the banana gives the filling a creamier texture, meaning you won’t need low-fat spread.
  • One-minute omelette – combine one beaten egg, a few spinach leaves and some chopped lean roast ham in a bowl. Microwave on full power for a minute or until the egg is set.
  • Baked eggs – put an egg (with yolk unbroken) and some crème fraîche in a ramekin. Put the ramekin in a baking dish and fill with hot tap water so it comes 3/4 of the way to the top of the ramekin. Bake for 15 minutes or until the egg yolk is set to your liking.

References   [ + ]