Skipping the entire cereal aisle to pick up some natural, wholesome granola at the grocery store probably makes you feel healthy and on top of your diet. I mean, granola is basically just oats, right?
Well, it's more than that. It's oats, yes, but most brands throw a lot of sugar in there, too.
If you look closely at the nutrition facts label, you'll see eating granola is just as bad as eating chocolate cake for breakfast.
If you don't care about your sugar intake, all power to you! Sugar is proven to be the root of many health problems, especially later in life, but you just keep doing what works.
For everyone else, when you're eating cake, what the calories you intake consist of matters just as much as the actual number of calories, and it's no different when it comes to granola.
Here's how it breaks down:
One serving size of chocolate cake with frosting is 2.25 ounces (1/8 of an 18-ounce cake) and contains 235 calories.
Two hundred and thirty-five doesn't sound that bad if you're counting calories (and can eat an exact 2.25-ounce slice of cake... Who does that?), but it doesn't have much going for it health-wise. Cake is chock-full of sugar, sodium and fat.
Now, compare those numbers to the calories and sugar in these popular granola brands you've probably eaten before:
Nature Valley Oats n' Honey Protein Granola
This brand has 210 calories in a 1/2 cup serving and 12 grams of sugar. This is one of my favorite granola brands, but I stopped buying it when I realized it was basically dessert.
Bear Naked V'nilla Almond Fit Granola
Bear Naked's vanilla granola has 120 calories in 1/4 cup and 4 grams of sugar.
OK, but who eats just 1/4 cup when other granola serving sizes are 1/2 or 1/3 of a cup? This is how brands fool people on their nutrition labels. I would think of this as a 240-calorie granola for sure.
Nature's Path Flax Plus Vanilla Almond Granola
You'll find 250 calories in 3/4 cup and 10 grams of sugar in this granola. This is definitely a larger and more realistic serving size, but it has more calories than a slice of cake!
Don't let the "flax plus" on the box fool you. While there are certainly some healthy aspects to granola, like the fact that it's a good source of fiber, it's true health value is revealed on the back of the box.
365 Everyday Value Organic Oat & Honey Granola
This Whole Foods brand contains 240 calories in just 1/2 cup and 14 grams of sugar. Damn. That's bad.
This is one of the many products that proves Whole Foods isn't as healthy as you think!
Quaker Simply Granola: Oats, Honey, Raisins & Almonds
This variety has 210 calories in 1/2 cup and 13 grams of sugar.
Quaker's granola is just as bad as its flavored oatmeal. That's why plain is always the way to go.
OK, so as you can see, every brand has a different serving size.
Plus, how often do you really take out a measuring cup before pouring yourself a bowl of granola and dumping milk or yogurt on it for breakfast? Probably never, unless you're a health freak like me who also measures out serving sizes for ice cream.
If you pick up a box of granola, look closely at the nutrition label. If you're seeing high sugar and calorie quantities in the nutrition facts, you might want to pick up another box or just make your own at home.