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Granola is marketed as a health food, but given the loads of sugar in many brands, you’d be better off with a Krispy Kreme donut. Or two. In fact, the New York Times recently called granola “junk food in disguise,” noting that while a Nature Valley variety can have 30 grams of sugar per cup, a slice of chocolate cake – with icing – has 26.
So if your family’s looking for a snack, let them eat cake!
Okay, not really. Before you reach for Sara Lee, consider that there are significant health benefits to granola eaten in moderation. It’s an effective digestive aid and can reduce cholesterol (thanks, soluble and insoluble fiber), can help prevent anemia (iron), and is a good source of vitamin E. (Fun fact: Granola was invented in 1863 by a doctor at a Danville, NY health spa called Our Home on the Hillside.)
Like most foods, the method of preparation has a big impact on how beneficial, or not, granola is for you. A bunch of carbs cooked in fat produces molecules your body can’t digest. What kind of sweetener is used, and how much, makes a difference. So you have to look at the label to see whether you’re eating something good for you, or dessert moonlight-ing as health food.