Plus, we've rounded up seven delicious, store-bought granolas for every type of diet.
Ever since its hippie heyday, when granola was at the top of the earth child food pyramid (right above sprouts and tofu), the rolled oat cereal has been virtually synonymous with healthy eating. It’s the reason you still occasionally hear such diets referred to as “crunchy.”
And it can be a great source of whole grains, fiber, and even protein. Or, depending on the brand, fat, sugar, and calories. “One of the biggest issues with granola is portion size, because it’s incredibly dense,” says Karen Ansel, R.D., author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer. You’ve got to read labels carefully because the serving sizes vary a lot from brand to brand, from as little as a quarter cup to double that. Luckily, a little does go a long way as a yogurt or salad topper, or for snacking straight from the bag.
Ansel recommends scanning the ingredients list for whole foods such as nuts, seeds and whole grains, and minimal added sweeteners. We put our spoons to the test and declared these granolas best in bowl.
All-Around Healthiest: Nature’s Path Hemp Hearts Granola
This all-organic blend of oats, hemp, and flax delivers heart-healthy ALA omega-3s but remains low in saturated fat and sugar. And though low in calories for a granola, it’s got a decent amount of fiber and protein to keep you satisfied. (Buy it on Amazon)
Best Breakfast: Kind Healthy Grains Oats & Honey Clusters with Toasted Coconut
The relatively low calorie count and saturated fat means even with milk, you can enjoy a full cup without going overboard. (Buy it on Amazon)
Best for Your Gut: Purely Elizabeth Maple Walnut Probiotic Granola
Literally and figuratively, this cereal’s as crunchy as they come. Though it is a tad high in saturated fat and sugar, its mix of quinoa, millet, and chia packs protein, fiber, and healthy fats into every serving, and its boost of probiotics will help your digestive and immune systems. (Buy it on Amazon)
Best Classic (Or Old-Fashioned): Bob’s Red Mill Cinnamon Raisin
Dried fruit is going to raise your sugar a bit, but it’s worth it for a whopping 5 grams each of protein and fiber per half-cup serving of this molasses- and vanilla-flavored delight. And the saturated fat is practically nonexistent. (Buy it on Amazon)
Best Indulgence: Bear Naked Cacao & Cashew Butter Granola
It’s on the high side for calories and sugar, but when you want a treat, this soft-baked granola is healthier than a candy bar but still as satisfying. (Buy it on Amazon)
Best Gluten-Free: Bubba’s Cinn-ful Apple Ungranola
Coconut, nuts, honey, apples, and spices taste and crunch like the real deal, so you won’t even miss the oats. And if you’re allergen-free, it’s still a great protein and fiber boost for yogurt. (Buy it on Amazon)
Best for Low-Carbers: Paleonola Original
If you’re not concerned about calories, or actively seeking them to fuel a workout, this grain-free mix packs 340 per half-cup, but has about half the carbs or less of other varieties. (Buy it on Amazon)