Eating granola may help lower your cholesterol and prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. It's a type of breakfast cereal consisting of whole grain oats, nuts and dried fruits. The oats are commonly toasted with a small amount of oil and sweetener, giving the cereal a crunchy texture. Each variation of granola has a slightly different nutritional value. Some may have more sugar, fat, calories or protein, depending on the ingredients.
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Whole grain oats and nuts, two main ingredients in most granola, contain dietary fiber. From just 1/3 cup of granola, you'll get about 4 grams of fiber. Although it's indigestible by your body, fiber helps to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. It may also help control your blood sugar and promote a feeling of fullness after eating, allowing you to cut calories with less hunger. Soluble fiber found in oats is particularly helpful for lowering bad cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber binds to bile acids, which contain cholesterol, in your digestive tract and removes them from your body.
Provides Beneficial Fats
Granola is a good source of healthy fats, which come from the nuts, seeds and oils it contains. A serving of granola gives you about 4 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids and about 4 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These two forms of fat may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. Among other things, these effects can help to prevent or manage heart disease, diabetes, cancer and inflammatory conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, in granola are essential for proper brain function.
Whole grain foods, such as granola, generally contain more vitamins and minerals per serving than refined cereals. Vitamin E, thiamin and folate are all found in significant amounts in granola. The oils, nuts and seeds in granola provide vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant in your body to protect from damaging free-radical compounds. It also plays a part in maintaining the health of your heart, skin and nervous system. Thiamin and folate are B vitamins that aid in energy metabolism, nerve function, cell growth and the prevention of certain neural tube birth defects.
A Good Source of Minerals
Granola contains almost every mineral essential to your health. Magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium are present in the highest percent of your daily needs. Magnesium plays a part in more than 300 enzyme reactions in your body, including energy production, calcium use and maintenance of healthy bones. Phosphorus aids in acid-base balance in your body and production of some proteins. Selenium, zinc, copper and manganese, although needed in only small amounts by your body, are essential for the formation of connective tissues, red blood cells and bones. They also help to maintain healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular system function; aid in regulating the thyroid; and contribute to proper healing.
- Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst
- USDA National Nutrient Database For Standard Reference: Cereals Ready-To-Eat, Granola, Homemade
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- University of Michigan Integrative Medicine: Healing Food Pyramid: Healthy Fats
- Australian Government Department of Health: Vitamins and Minerals