Skip to main content

8 Health Benefits of Granola & 4 Recipe Ideas

Granola, or granula as it was once known, was invented in the mid-1800s at a famous spa in New York state. It’s unsurprising that the modern food is still renowned for being good for you and boosting your overall health. Learn here, what exactly granola is, and what makes it so good for us.

The granola we know and love today is generally made up of rolled oats, seeds, nuts, and honey or brown sugar. Sometimes other ingredients are added into the mix for flavor or additional healthful properties.

In this article we’ll explore the deeper origins of granola, why it’s so good for you, and how to make your own at home.

Interesting Facts about Granola

Interesting Facts about Granola

Granola is a hugely popular food throughout the Western world, particularly for breakfast. There are some fun facts to it as well, many of which may surprise you.

For instance, there is a National Granola Bar Day in the US, and it’s celebrated on January 21 every year.

Granola and granola bars are made of the same ingredients, one is just a portable snack-sized version.

But most interestingly of all is the story behind the name: The inventor of granola, James Caleb Jackson, named it granula. His composition was made of crumbled, then baked graham flour.

Perhaps it was so called because it looked granulated, we don’t know for sure. Kellogg’s soon made a similar product using oatmeal, cornmeal, and wheat flour. After James Jackson sued Kellogg, he cleverly re-named it to granola to avoid further conflict.

By the late 1880s it’s said Kellogg’s was selling two tons of their own granola per week.

What Granola Is

What Granola Is

Granola is a cereal mixture made from rolled oats, seeds, nuts, and honey or brown sugar. It’s baked until golden brown and crispy, and usually served with yogurt or milk, as well as fruit.

Origin and Where Granola Comes From

Origin and Where Granola Comes From

We’ve already covered most of the origin story of granola above, but there’s more. Granola was first invented at the Jackson Sanatorium in Dansville, New York.

The spa was renowned for their ‘healing spring’, and food was another source of wellness treatments.

James Caleb Jackson was a firm believer in digestive health, so the creation of granola made sense. At the time the idea of a cold cereal was new.

Interestingly, the granola and granula of those days were registered trademarks. Nowadays, a trademark only remains in New Zealand and Australia.

Ingredients In Granola

Ingredients In Granola

Standard granola ingredients include toasted rolled oats, nuts, and honey or sugar. However, plenty of varieties exist, including things like puffed rice, grains, seeds, dried fruits, nut butters, spices, and even chocolate or oils.

What Granola Tastes Like

What Granola Tastes Like

Granola is crunchy, nutty, and sweet. Depending on the ingredients it can have a satisfying mix of sweet and salty flavors, buttery nuttiness, and even a mix of spices that surprise the palate.

It’s usually served in the form of granola bars or with some form of dairy. Plant-based yogurts or other alternatives to milk or yogurt are also good accompaniments.

Nutritional Facts, Calories and Protein of Granola

Nutritional Facts, Calories and Protein of Granola

A standard granola bar contains the same or very similar ingredients to granola cereal. One bar weighs around 1 oz or 28g, and contains approximately 2.8g of protein.

The same amount will contain around 132 calories. This may sound like a lot, but fortunately granola is very filling, so you don’t need to eat much to help you feel satisfied.

Granola also contains plenty of dietary fiber, around 1.5g per bar. Standard granola will be a good source of vitamins B, C, D, E, K, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and potassium.

Just be mindful of watching any potential sugar content.

Oats contain all of the nine most essential amino acids, while other grains may contain other beneficial amino acid types. What’s more, if your granola is made with dried fruit and nuts, you’ll also get a good helping of antioxidants such as vitamin E.

Granola made with a good amount of seeds and nuts will also give you a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

Health Benefits of Eating Granola: Why It Is So Good for You

Health Benefits of Eating Granola: Why It Is So Good for You

Granola started its history as a health food and is full of beneficial nutrients. It comes as no surprise, then, that it offers plenty of benefits for your body and mind. Below are some of the top ways it can aid you for better health and wellbeing.

May Help with Weight Loss Goals

Whole grains and oats in granola are full of dietary fiber. These are known to help you feel full and keep you feeling full for longer. Studies have shown that consuming a diet high in fiber may help you lose weight.

Can Improve Your Blood Pressure

Can Improve Your Blood Pressure

The potassium in granola helps dilate your blood vessels, in turn lowering blood pressure. This makes granola an ideal food if you suffer from hypertension or want to lower your blood pressure levels naturally.

May Lower Levels of Bad Cholesterol

May Lower Levels of Bad Cholesterol

The fiber content in granola can help lower levels of bad cholesterol in your body. Lowering cholesterol in your body helps protect your brain and heart.

High cholesterol levels are amongst the most common causes for strokes and heart attacks, so eating healthy foods to keep them low is vital.

Aids a Healthy Digestive System

Granola is full of soluble fiber, which is great when it comes to slowing down digestion and keeping you feeling full for longer. Dietary fiber is great at bulking up your stools and softening them, both of which helps combat constipation.

May Prevent Anemia

May Prevent Anemia

Iron in granola is key for preventing anemia, which can make you feel sluggish and fatigued. Add things like dark chocolate, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit to give your body an extra iron boost.

Bear in mind that good gut health helps you absorb nutrients more effectively, so enjoying granola with a probiotic yogurt is essential.

Boosts Brain Power and Energy Levels

Boosts Brain Power and Energy Levels

Granola is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are deemed essential for the proper functioning of your brain and boosting energy levels.

It’s also chock-full of minerals that are important for boosting brain power and increasing your energy levels.

This is largely because granola is usually made with nuts, and nuts are known for their brain-boosting properties.

Helps Your Immune System

Helps Your Immune System

Antioxidants such as vitamin E, which are found in granola, are good at boosting your immune system.

These help fight free radicals in your body, keeping your cells in good shape and lowering your risk of developing a variety of health problems.

Antioxidants are even beneficial when it comes to slowing down signs of aging.

Can Lower Inflammation in Your Body

Eating a fiber-rich diet can help lower inflammation in your bosdy. The antioxidants in granola are also known to help reduce inflammation, which is key for curbing your immune system’s responses to allergens and diseases.

Potential Risks of Granola

Potential Risks of Granola

All health foods that can offer some form of goodness will inevitably also pose risks. Granola is perfectly fine for most people, though there may be some risks with store bought varieties in particular. We cover some of these potential risks here.

May Contain a Lot of Sugar and Hidden Calories

Store Bought granola cereal and granola bars may contain lots of added sugars, bad fats, and other unfavorable ingredients. These may result in hidden calories that can cause weight gain and other potential health risks.

May Contain Allergens

May Contain Allergens

Granola frequently contains nuts. If you’re allergic to specific kinds of nuts, you’ll want to check the labels. Ensure your granola isn’t made with nuts you’re allergic to or made in a facility that also processes certain nuts.

Processed Oats Can Cause Spikes in Blood Sugar Levels

Processed Oats Can Cause Spikes in Blood Sugar Levels

Carbohydrates in granola may cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Stick to homemade granola made with ingredients that are good for you and your diet to avoid unwanted side effects.

Steel-cut or old-fashioned oats are less processed and contain more healthy soluble fiber, which is known for regulating blood sugar levels.

Is Granola in Pregnancy Good For You?

Is Granola in Pregnancy Good For You?

Granola, particularly homemade granola, is a wonderful option for pregnant women. That’s because it’s full of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Fiber is particularly helpful at easing digestive discomfort during pregnancy, as well as lowering risks of pre-eclampsia and diabetes.

Granola contains a good amount of folate, which is one of the most important vitamins you and your baby need during pregnancy.

It can help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. It’s also full of iron, which is great news if you’re worried about pregnancy-related anemia.

Try some Greek yogurt, which offers plenty of vitamin D and calcium, topped with your favorite fruit and homemade granola. The granola will give you a good energy boost, too, which is helpful when you’re facing excess pregnancy-related tiredness.

Can Dogs and Cats Have Granola?

Can Dogs and Cats Have Granola?

Oats on their own may be helpful for your dog or cat when given in moderation. That is because the high fiber content in oats can relieve constipation and soothe other digestive issues.

However, pets shouldn’t have granola. Granola, particularly if it’s been commercially made, may contain foods that are toxic for your furry friend.

Delicious Recipe Ideas with Granola

Delicious Recipe Ideas with Granola

Are you ready to experiment with your own homemade granola? Here are a few suggestions to make simple, delicious granola at home.

You could make a granola mix for your breakfast or prepare bar-shaped treats to take to work or on outdoor adventures.

Maple Pecan Granola

a jar of granola with nuts and berries

Pecan nuts are particularly good for heart health, help decrease levels of bad cholesterol in your body, and may even help prevent heart disease and strokes.

Maple syrup makes for a delicious natural sweetener. Add both to your favorite granola recipe for a flavorful, heart-healthy treat.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Who doesn’t like pumpkin spiced treats? This warming spice mix is actually very good for you as well.

It’s high in healthy antioxidants, helps balance blood sugar (on its own that is, without added sugar), reduces inflammation, protects your heart, and boosts your digestive system.

Some recipes use pumpkin puree, which works well in granola bars and adds some extra chewiness. Pumpkin is also full of beneficial nutrients.

Black Forest Gateau-Style Granola

Black Forest Gateau-Style Granola

If you’ve never had Black Forest cake, you’ll know just how delightful it is. It also lends itself perfectly to granola recipes.

Simply add some dark chocolate chunks, good quality cocoa powder, dried cherries, and vanilla to your favorite granola recipe.

These make really tasty bars as well, which can be wrapped nicely and added to gift baskets.

Sweet and Salty Granola

Sweet and Salty Granola

Sweet and salty granola is both good in bar form as well as for your breakfast cereal. It satisfies both salty and sweet cravings, and is easily made at home.

Simply follow your favorite granola recipe, but add in some extra nuts, cinnamon, cardamom, and sea salt flakes.

Sweeten using some high quality vanilla extract and maple syrup (or honey) and bake per the usual instructions. If you’re making bars you can add a few extra sea salt flakes on top.

Tips for Using Granola

Tips for Using Granola

Granola can readily be bought in the supermarket or in health food stores. However, if you choose to make it at home, you’ll want to know how to do just that as well as tips on storing it for freshness. Here are a few helpful tips.

How to Store Granola

How to Store Granola

You’ll want to store your granola in either ziploc bags or a glass mason jar. BPA-free plastic containers with a vacuum seal are good, too.

The idea is to keep your granola in a dark, cool, dry place away from possible contaminants or things with strong odors.

Homemade granola will be good to use at room temperature for around 2-4 weeks, though freezing it will keep it fresh for up to 6 months.

How to Make Granola at Home

How to Make Granola at Home

Granola is super easy to make at home and you can change it up to make your own special varieties.

Start with a basic recipe of whole rolled oats, chopped nuts of your choice, cinnamon, sea salt, some melted coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, and dried cranberries.

Mix everything and spread it on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crispy. Once it’s cooled completely, you can break your granola into chunks and store it in a mason jar for later use.

Make and Eat Granola Bars

Make and Eat Granola Bars

Granola bars are made from more or less the same ingredients as granola. You just need to press the mixture into a baking pan, taking care to really make it stick together.

Adding brown sugar or honey to your mix will act as a ‘glue’ for the bars. Homemade granola bars will keep fresh for around a week when kept at room temperature.

Just make sure you keep them in an airtight container away from direct light or moisture.

40 votes, average: 4.90 out of 540 votes, average: 4.90 out of 540 votes, average: 4.90 out of 540 votes, average: 4.90 out of 540 votes, average: 4.90 out of 5 (40 votes, average: 4.90 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Loading...

Related Posts

Similar Articles