Lower Blood Pressure
Granola may lower your blood pressure, which is a health benefit because hypertension increases your risk for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Whole grains, such as oats, may lower your blood pressure because they are high in potassium and low in sodium, according to the Mayo Clinic. For some extra potassium, purchase or make your granola with dried fruit, and eat it with skim milk or yogurt and fresh fruit, such as bananas. Read the label when you purchase granola to make sure that it is not too high in sodium.
A health benefit of granola is that it may reduce your risk for iron-deficiency anemia because oats are naturally high in iron. Iron is an essential mineral for healthy red blood cells, and children and women of child-bearing age are at higher risk for iron-deficiency anemia. Each cup of homemade granola may have more than 5 g iron, or nearly one-third of the daily value for iron. For extra iron, choose a ready-made granola that is enriched with iron.
Control Your Weight
Granola may help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, which can reduce your risk for obesity-related chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. Oats supply dietary fiber, and a high-fiber diet may help you control your weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. Increase the fiber content of your granola by buying a high-fiber brand, or making your own with flax seed, nuts or dried fruit. Granola is high in sugars and calories, so only have a small portion as part of your reduced-calorie breakfast for weight control.
Granola may lower your cholesterol as part of a high-fiber diet. Soluble fiber, which is in fruit, beans and oats, lowers bad LDL cholesterol levels in your blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you are making your own granola, add some flax seed for extra fiber and heart-healthy omega-three fats. Read the ingredients list before you purchase a ready-made granola to make sure that it does not have partially hydrogenated oils. These oils supply trans fats, which not only raise your LDL cholesterol, but also lower your levels of good HDL cholesterol.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010; January 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Breakfast Cereals
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
- Mayo Clinic: Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet