Granola, is it a Healthy Choice?


Most people think of granola as a healthy breakfast food and it’s certainly marketed that way—with claims of being a good source of fiber, helps lower cholesterol or gives a boost of protein. Also, granola bars are typically found next to other snacks or grab-and-go meals that marketed as healthy to consumers. However, nowadays there are some recipes and industrialized products that represent the opposite.

How Could Granola Impact my Blood Glucose Levels?

  1. It consists of different cereals.
    Granola is basically a combination of cereals such as oats, wheat, corn and amaranth. Granola generally has “whole grain” oats so it retains the benefit of having soluble fiber, however, you should keep in mind that, since it has cereals, they should be considered when counting carbohydrates, even if you eat a small portion.
  2. Refined sugar may be listed early in the order of ingredients.
    When reviewing the list of ingredients, generally the second ingredient in quantity is some type of sugar, such as honey, maple syrup or muscovado sugar. You should also consider this when counting carbohydrates, and keep in mind that it will go into your bloodstream quickly.
  3. It generally has dehydrated fruits added to it.
    Several recipes and industrialized granola have raisins or dehydrated blueberries, which add sugar to the preparation.
  4. It is often served with fast-absorbing carbohydrate-rich foods.
    Granola is commonly served with fruit and/or yogurt. Remember that both foods contain simple sugars that quickly go into the bloodstream, so when you eat them together and add regular granola, they represent a significant amount of carbohydrates in the same meal. Calculate your total count and try to distribute fast-absorbing carbohydrates during the day.

Sugar-free granola options are a good alternative, but remember that this does not mean there is no limit to how much you can eat because it still contains the natural carbohydrates of the cereals and possibly some dehydrated fruit. Remember that no food is off-limits, however, you should favor the ones with a low glycemic index and no added sugars. Another tip? Try making some granola at home! You can use this recipe, which is only 20 grams of carbs per serving. 

If you eat it to lose weight…

According to Harvard University, granola bars are in the list of the 10 foods that provide more calories to the USA population, in the category of “cereal-based desserts” along with cakes and cookies, so if you are looking to lose weight, it will not be easy if you include it in your daily breakfast.

Remember that living with diabetes does not represent limitations to carry out any activity, learn to know your body and how your blood glucose levels respond to the foods you eat, this will give you more confidence when facing meals you are not sure about.

WRITTEN BY Valeria Szymanski C. Diabetes Educator, Nutritionist, POSTED 08/27/20, UPDATED 08/01/23

Valeria has a bachelor's degree in nutrition and is a certified diabetes educator. She lives and has her practice in Mexico City. She is also a clinical specialist in insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring as well as a member of the National Council of Diabetes Educators. You can find her on Facebook as @ComiendoConDiabetes.