Is Granola Really a Health Food?

By , Category : Food and Nutrition

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

granola, healthy snackWhen you think of a healthy snack or breakfast component, would it be a stretch to suggest that granola comes to mind? You can eat it as a trail mix, in wholesome-seeming cereal, as a supposedly healthy sweet treat with fruit and yoghurt, or in bar form, usually manufactured by a company with a natural-sounding name that makes you feel good.

But is granola really a health food?

It seems ludicrous, I know, but the truth is that granola—at least today’s incarnation of it—is more like a dessert than a breakfast or healthy snack. I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

Once a Health Food…

It wasn’t always this way, though. When nutrition advocate Dr. James Caleb Jackson developed granola, it was a healthy recipe. It featured dense, unsweetened bran nuggets that were rich in nutrients and fiber. It was a healthy snack or additive to breakfast cereal.

…Now Junk Food

But oh, how the times have changed! Today’s commercial brands—and even popular at-home recipes—are packed full of sugar, making them about as healthy as a donut, a slice of chocolate cake (with frosting), or a cup of ice cream. Put quite simply: granola—whether in bar, cereal, or sprinkle form—is not a health food. In fact, it can be very dangerous.

Added refined sugar—whether it’s honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or table sugar—has toxic effects on the body. It can lead to metabolic problems and promote weight gain, heart disease, liver and kidney problems, and type 2 diabetes.

This might be hard to believe with certain healthy-sounding brand names and the fact that granola bars are promoted as a healthy snack for people with healthy lifestyles…but they might actually be killing you.

How Much Sugar Is in Granola?

Just how much sugar is in a granola bar? While there is no standard amount and different bars have varying amounts, you can usually count on between 20 and 30 grams of sugar per bar or per cup of granola. A quick comparison may shock you:

  • There are 26 grams of sugar in a slice of chocolate cake with icing
  • A cup of ice cream has at least 28 grams of sugar
  • A popular brand’s glazed donut has 10 grams of sugar

And, I know for sure you’d laugh in my face if I claimed that those were health foods. But looking at the added sugar content, they are actually healthier than some renditions of granola bars or cereals.

Choose Healthier Options

So, if you’re thinking that adding some granola to your cereal or yogurt is doing anything other than adding dangerous sugar, I’m sorry to tell you it isn’t. So, ditch the granola bars for fresh fruit, whole grains, or something that isn’t candy wrapped up in a healthy-looking package!

Source for Today’s Article:

O’Connor, A., “Why Your Granola Is Really a Dessert,” The New York Times, August 30, 2016;, last accessed September 6, 2016.

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About the Author, Browse Mat's Articles

About eight years ago, Mat Lecompte had an epiphany. He’d been ignoring his health and suddenly realized he needed to do something about it. Since then, through hard work, determination and plenty of education, he has transformed his life. He’s changed his body composition by learning the ins and outs of nutrition, exercise, and fitness and wants to share his knowledge with you. Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and... Read Full Bio »