Granola: Good or Bad?

Some view granola as an all-star health food, others think it's belly fat in a box! Here are the pros and cons surrounding this crunchy breakfast staple.

Nutrition Facts

Many granola recipes are made up of a combination of healthy and potentially not-so-healthy ingredients. A basic granola includes oats, a sweetener (like honey or sugar), oil and possibly flakes or crisps made from wheat or rice. Additional ingredients can include some combination of dried fruit, nuts and coconut. Some brands might also add a protein boost.

The average nutrition stats for a ¼-cup (4-tablespoon) serving without nuts is about 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar and 17 grams of carbohydrate. For the same portion with nuts it's closer to 140 calories and 7 grams of fat.

Why Granola Gets A Bad Rap

Fill a basic cereal bowl with granola for breakfast and you might be scarfing down more than 600 calories! Depending on which brand you choose, a bunch of those calories may be coming from sugary sweeteners (and empty calories). On the other hand, that same high-cal breakfast may be thanks to healthier ingredients like nuts and dried fruit.

Instead of pouring an overflowing bowl, opt for mixing a ¼ cup of granola with a lower calorie cereal. Or get rid of the bowl altogether and just use a light sprinkle to add crunch to yogurt, fruit salad or pancakes.

Bottom Line: No need to give up on granola! Sensible portions are an obvious recommendation but more important, read ingredient lists and select a good-quality brand.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

Keep Reading

Next Up

Chicken: Good or Bad?

Chicken is considered a lean protein, but many folks are concerned about how chickens are raised and fed. Can this popular poultry be part of a healthy diet?

Pasta: Good or Bad?

Trying to find healthy and delicious recipes? Food Network makes that easy with their collection of low fat, low calorie and low carb recipes.

Bacon: Good or Bad?

Some folks love it, others cringe at the very thought. Can this pork belly delicacy be part of a healthy diet?

Pasta: Good or Bad?

Thankfully, the low-carb diet craze is on its way out, but during the anti-starch explosion, pasta took a severe beating. But pasta is GOOD! Here's why…

Kombucha: Good or Bad?

Find out if the popular fermented kombucha tea is worth the hype.

Cream: Good or Bad?

With boatloads of calories and artery clogging saturated fat, can cream be part of a healthy diet?

Mayo: Good or Bad?

It’s the quintessential “bad” food laden with artery clogging saturated fat. For years, we’ve been told to “hold the mayo,” but is it really as bad as they say?

Milk: Good or Bad?

We're talking about cows' milk, that is. Many folks view milk as wholesome and healthy. Others, meanwhile, warn us away and say it's full of hormones or might make you phlegmy. So what’s the deal with milk: does it do your body good or not?

Caffeine: Good or Bad?

Can’t go without that morning latte or afternoon soda, but worried you're overloading on caffeine? Here are some tips to help you assess your daily dose of caffeine.

Bagels: Good or Bad?

Who doesn’t love a bagel for breakfast -- but are they a wise choice? People are always surprised (and a little freaked out) to hear how many slices of bread they’d have to eat to match the calories in one bagel. Here’s the good and the bad.