(Consumer Reports) - Granola can be crunchy, yummy and packed with healthy nutrients, but some brands are loaded with sugars, fat, and calories. Consumer Reports takes a look at how to choose one that'll start your day off right.
Seven-year-old Jackson is learning to make healthy foods - starting with his own granola!
"I'm going to pour all of this in and then it gives it a little bit of coconut essence," Jackson said.
If you're more likely to pick up your granola from the store, Consumer Reports says you can easily get one that's high in fat and sugar - not exactly the healthy breakfast you had in mind.
"A little sweetness in your granola can help make it tasty, but you want it to come from dried fruit,” Consumer Reports health and food editor Trisha Calvo said. “Be wary of added sugars in the ingredients list such as maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar or tapioca syrup."
A good rule of thumb is to look for no more than 8 grams of total sugars per serving. As for protein and fiber …
"Some manufacturers pump up the protein or fiber content of granola by adding processed ingredients, like chicory root fiber, or isolated soy protein. But it's always better to get your nutrients from whole foods, like nuts, seeds and whole grains." Calvo said.
And once you get that granola home - CR says to check out the serving size, it may be less than you're used to pouring!
Consumer Reports' food testing team asked a group of consumers to pour out their typical amounts of breakfast cereal and granola. More than 90-percent of people poured more than the serving size described on the package.
"But, we found the average 'over-pour' for the granola, was two to four-times the recommended serving size," Calvo said.
A great way not to have too much of a good thing - use granola as a topper for plain yogurt, or have it with a piece of fruit to keep you full and get some fiber.
Consumer Reports says a good rule of thumb when choosing any cereal is to look at the ingredients list. Cereals with fewer ingredients tend to have more natural ones than artificial ones.