The 6 Best Granolas and 4 to Avoid

 by Kelly Plowe

We assume all granolas are healthy — but that's just not the case. We find out the best and worst granolas when it comes to calorie, fat, sugar and protein.


Granolas — once reserved solely for hippies — still carry that health halo, so we tend to assume they're full of good-for-you ingredients. But even if you're a savvy label reader, it can be tricky to pick the best granola. "A serving" can range from a quarter-cup to two-thirds cup, but for simplicity's sake, we calculated the serving size of each of the following at a about quarter of a cup. We also took into consideration the overall calorie, fat, sugar, fiber and protein content as well as the ingredients. For any granola, though, we recommend you watch your portions and pair it with high-protein or high-fiber foods, such as Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. Here are the six best and four worst granolas on the market.

1. BEST: Engine 2 (Apple Pumpkin)

The Engine 2 brand is based on the Engine 2 Diet, a plant-based diet created by firefighter and former world-class professional triathlete Rip Esselstyn. It's all about eating a healthy, plant-based diet and cutting out meat and dairy as well as refined and highly processed foods. (We can get down with that.)

Esselstyn created a variety of packaged foods that work with the Engine 2 Diet, including veggie burgers, whole-grain pizza crust, hummus and granola. The Engine 2 granola line has three flavors: Apple Pumpkin, Plain Jane and Blueberry Vanilla. The Engine 2 Apple Pumpkin granola contains 125 calories, only three grams of sugar, three grams of fiber and five grams of protein.

2. BEST: 18 Rabbits (Cherry, Chia & Vanilla)

We picked the Cherry, Chia & Vanilla flavor because it's crazy good. That being said, you really can't go wrong with any of 18 Rabbits' granolas. All of the flavors — Pecan, Almond & Coconut, Walnut, Flax & Chia and Cashew, Ancient Grain & Cacao Nib — are lower in sugar and calories and higher in fiber and protein than most other granola brands. 18 Rabbits also boasts a simple ingredient list of organic, whole foods. The 18 Rabbits Cherry, Chia & Vanilla granola contains 130 calories, four grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and two grams of protein.

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3. BEST: Bear Naked Fit (Triple Berry)

Bear Naked is doing something no other brands we tried are doing: It's keeping the calorie and sugar content low by using the natural, low-calorie sweetener monk fruit. Its Fit line, which contains the monk fruit extract, has two flavors: Triple Berry and V'Nilla Almond.

What's more, you can build your own granola blend from savory ingredients on the Bear Naked website — we're talking everything from mushrooms and jalapeños to fruits, sweeteners, spices and nuts — and then you'll find out the nutrition breakdown and "flavor synergy" of your creation. The Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry granola contains 120 calories, three grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and two grams of protein.

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BEST: Paleonola Granola (Apple Pie)

This innovative company created a line of Paleo-friendly, grain-free granolas in six delicious flavors, such as Chocolate Fix (need it!), Maple Pancakes and Pumpkin Pie. The ingredient lists are pretty simple too, with foods like dried coconut, pepitas, almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil and dried apples all making an appearance.

The company's granolas tend to have higher amounts of saturated fat (likely from the coconut oil), so keep that in mind as you make choices on what to eat the rest of the day. The Paleonola Apple Pie granola contains 170 calories, four grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and four grams of protein.

5. BEST: Purely Elizabeth (Banana Nut Butter Grain-Free)

Another brand to jump on the grain-free bandwagon, Purely Elizabeth, also has granola lines featuring probiotics and ancient grains. The Banana Nut Butter scored high with us, thanks to its satisfying flavor and impressive nutrition profile. For starters, a serving has five grams of protein, which is on the high end as compared to most other granolas. It also has a lower sugar content and an ingredient list we can totally get behind. The Purely Elizabeth Banana Nut Butter Grain-Free granola contains 150 calories, four grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and five grams of protein.

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6. BEST: Cascadian Farm (Ancient Grains)

While there are other granolas that score better than this one nutritionally, this makes the cut because it contains unique grains, including whole-grain spelt and Kamut khorasan wheat. That being said, cane sugar is the second ingredient listed, which isn't ideal. The Ancient Grains flavor does manage to keep the calories and sugar content fairly low, but it's also low in fiber and protein. So while this granola isn't the worst for you, it's also something to eat in moderation. Cascadian Farm Ancient Grains granola contains 130 calories, five grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and three grams of protein.

7. WORST: Heartland (Low Fat Raisin)

Low-fat doesn't necessarily mean healthy. In fact, it may simply mean more sugar. Heartland's Low Fat Raisin is one of the worst offenders when it comes to replacing fat with sugar. While Heartland keeps the calorie count low, each serving has 10 grams of sugar (more than double most other granolas), and the product is pretty low in fiber and protein. Heartland Low Fat Raisin granola contains 120 calories, 10 grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and two grams of protein.

8. WORST: Sunbelt Bakery (Fruit & Nut Whole Grain)

Don't be fooled by this granola's healthy-sounding name. While it does contain healthy ingredients — fruits, nuts and whole grains — it also contains nine grams of sugar per serving. Sunbelt does make a Simple Granola that's much more nutritious — about half the sugar (five grams), plus three grams of protein and four grams of fiber. But it'd be best to stay away from Sunbelt Bakery Fruit & Nut Whole Grain granola, which contains 130 calories, nine grams of sugar, two grams of fiber and two grams of protein.

Read more: 7 Best Breakfast Sandwiches and 8 to Avoid

9. WORST: Kellogg's Raisin Bran (Cranberry Almond)

Alright, so this one starts out looking like a pretty good option, considering it only has 107 calories per 30-gram serving; but that's where the praises end. At nine grams of sugar and barely any protein per serving, we say pass on this one. There are much better options available. The Raisin Bran Cranberry Almond granola contains 107 calories, nine grams of sugar, three grams of fiber and two grams of protein.

10. WORST: Kellogg’s Low Fat Granola With Raisins

This might be one of the more popular granolas on the market, although it appears to have shed its iconic bright-yellow box and is now packaged in a purple-and-pink bag. This one is par for the course with the other "worst" granolas. It's high in sugar and low in satiating fiber and protein. Again, don't be fooled by the low-fat claim, it's just a marketing trick to make you think it's good for you. The Kellogg's Low Fat Granola With Raisins contains 115 calories, nine grams sugar, two grams of fiber and three grams of protein.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you eat granola? What are your favorite brands? Did any of them make it on the list? Will you try any that made the "best list"? Are there any you'd add? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!

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