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Healthy Breakfast: Oatmeal vs. Granola

May 21, 2010

According to the Mayo Clinic, eating a healthy breakfast is important because it helps the body consume more vitamins and minerals during the day, helps lower cholesterol and controls weight. Additionally, by eating breakfast, individuals have a better level of concentration and productivity during the day. To eat a healthy breakfast, one needs to eat a meal that is composed of whole grains, low fat protein, low fat dairy or fruits and vegetables. The more items you can combine on this list, then the healthier breakfast you would be eating.  Two common breakfast items are oatmeal and granola. This article will weigh the health benefits of oatmeal and granola.

What Are The Benefits Of Oatmeal?

Oatmeal is created from oat grains. Forms of oatmeal include steel-cut oats, crushed oats, ground oats and rolled oats. It touts a surprisingly high number of health benefits. According to the American Cancer Society, oatmeal includes insoluble fiber which helps eliminate toxins from the body. Oatmeal also has soluble fiber which may reduce LDL cholesterol levels, or bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber also slows down digestion, making you feel full longer. Oats contain photochemicals, which are antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals. Finally, oats are an excellent source of vitamin E, selenium, zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and magnesium.

What Are The Benefits Of Granola?

Granola is created from rolled grains, often oats and an assortment of additional ingredients. Other ingredients include seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Granola is often sweetened with molasses, honey, agave nectar or sugar. All these ingredients are usually toasted, giving granola a crunchy and clumpy texture.

In recent years, gourmet granola has become a growing market. Granola can be made with chocolate, yogurt, goji berries, or even exotic seeds such as chia, flax or amaranth seeds.

The rolled oats and other grains in granola offer fiber, antioxidants and the nutrients listed above under oatmeal. The nuts offer heart healthy fats, such as omega-3s and vitamins. The dried fruit provides additional fiber, which can promote digestive health.

Why Chose Oatmeal Over Granola?

While both oatmeal and granola both use oats as their base, granola includes too many unnecessary additions to make this a truly healthy option. With all the added sugars and dried fruits, granola can quickly accumulate many calories in a relatively small serving size. Additionally, the nuts in granola quickly increase the overall fat content of this food. Unlike granola, the whole grains of oatmeal can help individuals lose weight, lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease.

If you love granola, a excellent option is to make your oatmeal according to the package (for a regular serving, use ½ cup of oats but for a heart healthy serving, use ¾ of a cup of oats). Cook with low fat or skim milk for additional calcium and protein. Top the cooked oatmeal with ¼ of a cup of your favorite granola. Look for unsweetened or low fat granola to take advantage of its benefits without all those extra calories and unnecessary fats.

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