March 9, 2017

Ask a Dietitian: Granola

Question: I really like this granola recipe but I keep reading about how granola is bad for you due to too much added sugar. Can you comment and suggest how I might revise a recipe to be healthier?

MANNA RD: Granola is one of those food items that looks healthy on the outside but is deceivingly filled with lots of sugar and sometimes unhealthy fats.  Commercial varieties are often loaded with enough sugar containing more of the sweetener than protein by weight, the dietary guidelines have labeled it as a “grain-based dessert” and has placed it in the sweets category.

On average, one cup of granola or one granola bar has anywhere from 20-24 grams of sugar which is as much as what you would find in a slice of cake or even a bowl of ice cream.

With most Americans becoming more aware of and concerned with their daily sugar intake, more products are being developed that have cut this sugar content in half, these brands include KIND Healthy Grains Granola Clusters and Bear Naked Granola. 

There is also the option to make your own granola which allows you to control how much sugar is added and choosing healthier sweetener options such as fruit juice, honey, and natural sugars.

The key is to making sure that you pack plenty of whole grains, healthy fat and protein sources such as nuts and seeds, and limit your portion sizes to ½ cup.  Here is a great granola recipe that you can find on as well as other healthy granola recipes:


    • 8 cups rolled oats
    • 1 cup wheat bran
    • ½ cup chopped almonds
    • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • ½ cup apple juice
    • ⅓ cup orange juice
    • ⅓ cup lemon juice
    • ¼ cup canola oil
    • ¼ cup honey
    • 1½ tablespoons freshly grated orange zest, (about 1 orange)
    • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest, (about 1 lemon)
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup raisins or dates, (optional)


  • 1 Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine oats, bran, almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • 2 Heat apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, oil, honey and orange and lemon zests in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm. Stir in vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • 3 Spread mixture on two 11-by-16-inch baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Let cool and stir in raisins (or dates, if using).


Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 242 calories; 7 g fat(1 g sat); 7 g fiber; 39 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 6 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 13 IU vitamin A; 5 mg vitamin C; 44 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 3 mg sodium; 240 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2½
  • Exchanges: 2 starch, ½ fat