Granola has its rooted entrenched in healthy ideals. Since its beginnings in the late 19th century, Granola was designed to be a wholegrain product which was a healthy alternative to eggs, bacon and cheese for breakfast. At the time of introduction, it was called Granula and then registered by Kellogg’s as ‘Granola’ when they started to produce their own range.
Originally, Granola was a healthy cereal. It was simply whole-grains which were crumbled and baked but then began to lose out on their market share in the US when people sought sweeter alternatives. Granola came back into the fold in 1972 when a brand new range of products came to the fore, but this time around they were sugar and sweetener-laden to satisfy America’s sweet tooth.
Consumers loved this because nutritional packaging wasn’t as readily available as it is today and, along with the connotations rooted in its healthy beginnings, Americans believed this was simply a naturally sweet breakfast choice.
What was once quite a tiresome breakfast (consumers would have to soak their granola overnight in milk due to its dense, chewy grains), now was packed with loosening sugar and tons of palm oil, so that it was edible whilst still maintaining its crunch.
Nowadays people still lump the word ‘Granola’ with other healthy products like Muesli. But Muesli is not baked, and so doesn’t always require heaps of oil and sugar for it to keep its form in a box. A lot of Granolas out there are in no way good for you, and are of a similar contents to a candy bar or a sugary flapjack. Here are some of the worst culprits on our shelves:
- Quaker Oat Granola – only 56% oats, then sugar, glucose syrup and sunflower oil
- Tesco Super Berry Granola – only 40% oats, then sugar, palm oil and honey
- Kelloggs Oat Granola – only 40% oats, then sweetened dried fruit, palm oil, wheat flour and invert sugar syrup
- Special K Granola fruit and nut – 65% wholegrains, then sugar, sweetened cranberries, wheat flour and vegetable oil
- Yeo Valley yoghurt and granola pots – 15% granola, followed by maple syrup, sunflower oil and sugar.
Commonly associated with high levels of calcium and a good source of dairy, I think it’s fair to say yoghurt companies have had our pants down a little…
Ploughing high amounts of sugar into those tiny pots, it’s always best to be on the look-out, especially with these leading brands on our supermarket shelves:
- Ski Yoghurt – these are packed full of sugar, rice starch and gelatin gum
- Activia fruit yoghurts – these come with full-fat milk, loads of sugar (8%) and nasty stabilisers.
- Muller Corner Breakfast Yoghurts – these have around 10% sugar, as well as palm oil, corn flour and stabilisers make this one of the most unhealthy ways to start the day.
When choosing a yoghurt, it’s really so easy to find one that won’t mess with your waistline and actually tastes a damned sight fresher and tastier.
Opt for those which come in a larger tub (these are normally not the fruity ones) which aren’t heavily marketed with bold colours or offer ‘low calorie’ as a good thing. Yoghurt is naturally rich in good fats from the calcium and protein from the fermented milk so it shouldn’t strictly be low calorie. If it is, something good has been taken out and replaced – usually – with sugar, gelatin or starch. This is why most low calorie yoghurts are still as thick and creamy as you’d expect from a full-fat version.
Also be mindful of words like ‘Swiss style’. This doesn’t mean it’s fresh from a skinny Swiss cow, all it means is that fruit is blended into the yoghurt prior to packaging – which we all know isn’t always good.
Don’t get Swiss-Style confused with Greek-Style, which is the healthy type of yoghurt you want to go for. Greek-style is a strained type which removes a lot of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it its thick consistency. In roughly the same amount of calories, it can also pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half.
If Greek yoghurt is too sour for you, adding fresh fruit is a light, sweet tasting alternative to fruit compotes typically found in fruity yoghurt pots.
For more information on all things Yoghurt and Granola, see below: