Decades ago, the term healthy granola would have been redundant. Granola was seen as a nutritious, earthy food hippies ate. Then, it’s reputation completely flipped, and it seemed like experts and media headlines were constantly weighing in on why “Granola is not actually good for you!”
Of course, like nearly every scenario (especially involving nutrition), the right answer lies somewhere in the middle. Granola can be made with organic, nutrient-dense foods like oats, nuts, and seeds and eaten as part of a filling, energizing breakfast. But even if it’s made with good ingredients, it’s incredibly calorie-dense and most people overeat it, pouring several servings into a bowl at once. It can also be loaded with sugar, low-quality vegetable oils, excess carbs, and additives.
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Figuring out which bag to reach for is the first step in making it part of healthy diet, and lucky for all of us, there are now many brands making clean, nutritious (and seriously delicious!) versions. Look for whole food ingredients and healthy oils like olive or coconut, and watch out for sugar in all its forms.
Even better: We did the work for you, so you can just grab one of these brands at the grocery store and get to the important task of topping your Greek yogurt.
Healthy Granola: The 5 Best Brands
Purely Elizabeth has been a leader in the category for a while now, and all of the yummy flavors—from Pumpkin Cinnamon Ancient Grain to Coconut Cashew Grain-Free—meet every nutrition gold standard. They use ancient grains, oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil and lightly sweeten with coconut palm sugar. The granolas are all certified organic, vegan, and gluten-free. Bonus: there’s also a Chocolate Sea Salt flavor that includes probiotics for good gut health.
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Kitchun’s got a way with words. It makes “No-Grain-Ola” and calls flavors things like “You’re the Apple of My Chai” and “Wake Me Up Before You Coco!” The cleverness makes us love them, and the product’s nutrition profile is even more attractive. Think nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, sweetened with organic maple syrup or raw honey. The company does one other thing that sets it apart, too: It uses organic coconut milk instead of oil.
Okay, we’re a little biased with our love for OMG, since founder Yasaman Vojdani is a graduate of The Nutrition School. But we really heart both her and her granola, which she makes with oats (obviously!), nuts, spices, dried fruit, and olive oil. The products aren’t certified organic, but they contain many organic ingredients, and the Vintage flavor tastes like oatmeal cookies. Yum! We are so in.
Low-sugar alert: 18 Rabbits’ certified organic granolas contain less sugar than any other granola label we’ve read. Instead of cups of inflammation-inducing sweetener, they contain oats, nuts, seeds, and treats like cacao nibs. Depending on the flavor, the company uses coconut oil, sunflower oil, and/or grass-fed butter, so choose based on your fat of choice (especially if you’re vegan).
Wildway’s granolas are all totally grain-free, so they’re great for gluten-free and Paleo peeps. They also don’t contain any added sugar or oil (gasp), just nuts, seeds like sunflower and pumpkin, spices, and fruits like dates, banana, and coconut. The products aren’t organic, but they are non-GMO. Also, their packaging is super cute, if you like your pantry to look pretty.
Final tip: Remember that granola tends to be high in calories. We’re not fans of counting ‘em, but just be aware of this and stick to small portions (not giant cereal bowls filled to the rim).
The Nutritious Life Editors are a team of healthy lifestyle enthusiasts who not only subscribe to — and live! — the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life, but also have access to some of the savviest thought leaders in the health and wellness space — including our founder and resident dietitian, Keri Glassman. From the hottest trends in wellness to the latest medical science, we stay on top of it all in order to deliver the info YOU need to live your most nutritious life.
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