How Bad Is Granola for Your Diet?

Granola with raisins
Granola (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Granola is a versatile grain that can have a place in your healthy diet. The whole-grain base of the granola helps you meet your daily 25 to 38 grams of fiber requirement. Whether you make or purchase your granola, understanding how the calories, fiber and fat content fit into your dietary requirements can help you decide whether to include granola into your diet.

Identification and Uses

Thickly rolled, steamed and cut oat flakes make the base for granola. Food manufacturers or home cooks combine the flakes with water, oil and sweeteners, such as honey, brown sugar or syrup to form clusters of granola. After the granola bakes for a time, you can add seeds, wheat germ, raisins, nuts, dark chocolate or other dried fruits to the crunchy, chewy flakes and continue to bake for a few more minutes. You can use granola as a cereal, for making your own granola bars, as a dry snack or as a topping for Greek yogurt.

Fat and Calories

The healthiness of the granola depends on the type and amount of fat used in the cooking process, the addition of nuts or candy and how much sweetener the granola contains. Standard, homemade granola contains 597 calories per 1 cup. Of those 597 calories, 29 g, or 261 calories are from fat. Saturated fat, which is detrimental to your heart health, makes up 5 g of the fat, while the rest of the fat in granola is from healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats.

Nutrient Content

Although granola is relatively high in calories, the 11 g of fiber in 1 cup of granola helps you stay full, making it likely that you will be able to avoid feeling hungry between meals. Granola has 5 mg of iron, 95 mg of calcium and 659 mg of potassium. Granola also contains 11 micrograms of vitamin K and 13.6 mg of vitamin E.

Strategies

One-half a cup of granola has more than 5 g of fiber, the indigestible carbohydrate that controls cholesterol and benefits digestive health. If you are dieting or desire a lower calorie granola, make your own and use smaller amounts of oil to save calories. Purchase low-fat granola, which contains 214 calories per 2/3 cup, and 3 g of fat with 1.4 g from saturated fat. Granola with added fruit increases the nutritional value, as fruits such as pineapple, strawberries and blueberries contain vitamin C and other nutrients. Use a measuring cup to pour the granola to refrain from eating too much at one time.

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