Health Benefits of Granola

Crunchy, sweet, and satisfying, granola is a popular breakfast topping or daily snack. It tastes good — and it’s good for you. There are plenty of ways to enjoy it. Sprinkle a little on top of yogurt or ice cream, mix it with milk, or add hot water for a nourishing meal that will warm you up on a cold day. 

If you’re making your own granola, you can use a number of different ingredients, such as:

  • Oats
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Vanilla
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut flakes
  • Dried fruits
  • Sunflower seeds

The health benefits will vary depending on the ingredients, but this beloved breakfast food is a healthy and delicious snack.

Health Benefits

These ingredients are full of fiber and good fats, making granola a nutrient-dense food. Here are some of the ways eating granola can benefit your health: 

Weight Loss

High-fiber foods, like the oats and whole grains found in granola, fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer. Dietary studies have found eating a high-fiber diet can help you lose weight.

Disease Prevention

Dried fruit and nuts also contain antioxidants, like vitamin E, which can lower inflammation in the body. Antioxidants prevent cell damage that can cause serious diseases such as cancer.

Improves Blood Pressure

Certain foods, like flaxseeds, fruits, and whole grains, have been shown to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). Making diet and lifestyle changes like eating a diet rich in whole grains and vegetables may reduce the amount of medication you need to take. 

Decreases Cholesterol Levels

Oats contain a compound called beta-glucan, which has been shown to reduce levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol clogs blood vessels and can lead to heart disease or other health problems.

Other whole grains found in granola types, like quinoa or teff, contain important amino acids and protein.

Reduces High Blood Sugar

Whole grains and dried fruits contain fiber. Eating more fiber slows the rate at which your body digests sugar and carbohydrates, preventing a spike in blood sugar levels.

Boosts Gut Health

Certain grains in granola contain prebiotic fiber, which may increase the levels of healthy gut bacteria compared to cereals made with refined grains.

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Nutrition

Granola provides protein and important micronutrients like iron, vitamin D, folate, and zinc. Serving sizes vary from 1/4 cup to a full cup depending on the type and brand you choose. 

Granola can also be an excellent source of:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

Nutrients per Serving

Here's a sample of nutrition information for a 2/3 cup serving of Quaker® low-fat granola with raisins:

  • Calories: 213
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Cholesterol: 1 milligram
  • Sugar: 14 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 44 grams
  • Vitamin A: 0 milligrams
  • Vitamin C: 0 milligrams
  • Calcium: 400 milligrams
  • Iron: 1.6 milligrams

Portion Size

Granola contains dried fruit, which is high in sugar, and high-fat tree nuts like almonds or walnuts. If too much is eaten, you could develop health problems or take in too many calories. Read the label before you buy and check the overall calories, total sugar, and fat content.

Look for brands with more grains, oats, seeds, and dried fruit, and avoid granola with added sweeteners or honey. Alternatively, you could make your own granola! Portion control is also important to avoid consuming excess calories. It may be helpful to measure out one or two servings first, so you don’t overeat. 

How to Prepare Granola

Granola is prepackaged and easy to prepare. These are a few ways to eat granola: 

  • Pour granola into a bowl or container
  • Add dairy milk, nut milk, or hot water to enjoy hot or cold
  • Sprinkle on top of yogurt
  • Take a small handful right from the bag

You can also make your own granola, which is a good way to avoid the excess fats and sugars you may find in store-bought brands. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 24, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Nutrient-Rich Foods: What is a Whole Grain?”

British Journal of Nutrition: “Whole-grain wheat breakfast cereal has a prebiotic effect on the human gut microbiota: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Micronutrient Facts.” 

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Food Science and Nutrition: “The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: A systematic review.”

Irish Journal of Medical Science: “Non-pharmacological management of hypertension: in the light of current research.”

MedlinePlus: “Soluble vs. insoluble fiber.” 

Science News: “Antioxidants: Preventing Diseases, Naturally.”

The World’s Healthiest Foods: “Granola with Fresh Fruit.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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