Made with a variety of nutritious ingredients such as baked grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, there are several reasons why granola is a nutritional powerhouse.
For one, many of its ingredients are high in fiber, which helps with blood sugar control, aids digestion, and promotes a healthy gut (1). Most granola is also high in iron, a mineral essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body (2). Additionally, some are high in protein, which supplies energy and supports muscle, brain, and immune function (3).
Like granola, muesli offers similar health benefits. The main difference between muesli and granola is that granola is baked, whereas muesli is raw. This makes muesli a versatile food, great served both hot and cold.
There are certain ingredients to be mindful of when shopping for granola and muesli, namely added sugars.
Added sugars are concentrated forms of sugar introduced to food during processing. Since they supply energy but offer little to no nutritional value, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your added sugar consumption to 6-9 teaspoons (25-36 grams) per day (4).
Cane sugar, honey, brown rice syrup, and molasses are some of the most common types of added sugars found in granola and muesli, but keep in mind there are over 50 different names that might show up on an ingredient list.
Instead of using added sugars, some brands use whole foods such as raisins and other dried fruits to sweeten granola and muesli. Unlike added sugars, these tasty ingredients provide additional nutrients and fiber.
Here’s a breakdown of how to shop for sugar-free granola and granola with no sugar added, plus 9 top-rated options.
How to choose a healthy sugar free granola
Granola can be eaten by itself as a snack, or paired with other nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, low-fat milk, or your favorite unsweetened plant-based milk alternative.
When choosing a sugar free granola, here are some things to consider:
- Total sugar. Total sugar includes both naturally occurring sugars (such as those in dried fruit) and sugar added (such as cane sugar). Monitoring total sugar consumption can be beneficial for some people — for example, limiting total sugar intake can help aid blood sugar control for those with diabetes.
- Added sugar. Close to 71% of products marketed as whole grain, multi-grain, or ancient grain contain added sugar, with granola being a top source. If you’re looking for a healthier granola, watch out for sneaky sources of added sugar commonly found in granola, such as honey, molasses, and brown rice syrup (5).
- Fiber. As we mentioned before, starting your morning off with a high fiber granola will keep you full for longer. For a good source of fiber, look for granola products that contain more than 10% of the daily recommended value (DV) per serving (6).
- Saturated fat. Many store-bought granolas may contain one or more processed oils, which can be a sneaky source of saturated fat. Consuming too much saturated fat is associated with high cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease. Look for granola products that contain less than 5% of the DV for saturated fat per serving (7). The GreenChoice app is an easy way to check if your favorite granola is low in saturated fat.
It’s worth noting that many sources of total sugar can be highly nutritious, such as fruit. In contrast, added sugar supplies energy, but offers little to no additional nutritional value.
For this reason, we’ve included both sugar-free granola brands and those with healthy, whole-food sources of sugar in this list of the 9 best store bought sugar-free granolas.
1. Wildway Vanilla Bean Espresso Granola
In lieu of added sugar, this grain-free granola is sweetened with dates. As an added bonus for coffee lovers, this granola offers hints of fair trade espresso.
2. Seans Organic Walnut Currant Muesli
Though technically muesli (unbaked granola), this organic product is nutritious hot or cold. It’s free of added sugars, instead sweetened with two types of raisins and currants.
3. St Amour Original Power Granola
This sugar-free granola is flavored with natural vanilla and sweetened with maltitol — a sugar alcohol. Maltitol is used as a low-calorie sugar substitute, since each gram contains about half the calories as regular sugar.
Keep in mind, sugar alcohols can cause unwanted digestive symptoms in some people, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
4. Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Apple Granola
No sugar is added to this organic, whole-grain granola. Instead, it is sweetened with both date and apple powders, which are essentially dried, ground fruits.
Additionally, this granola contains dried apple pieces, which provide a slightly sweet crunch.
5. Cascadian Farm No Added Sugar Organic Coconut Cashew Organic Granola
Like the other Cascadian Farm granola on this list, this organic, whole-grain granola is sweetened with date powder.
Because it’s flavored with coconut flakes and coconut oil, this granola is much higher in saturated fat than other granolas on this list, supplying 38% of the recommended daily value (DV) per 1/2 cup serving.
6. Love Healthy Foods No Sugar Added Granola
Instead of added sugars, this granola is sweetened with organic bananas. Plus, this granola offers hints of coconut with less saturated fat than other coconut-flavored granolas, supplying 20% of the DV for saturated fat per 1/2 cup serving.
7. Bobs Red Mill Cereal Muesli
This simple, whole grain muesli is made with whole grain wheat and sunflower seeds.
No sugar is added — instead, dates and raisins are used for a touch of sweetness.
8. Whole Foods Market Harvest Mix Granola
This granola is free of added sugars, instead using several whole-food sources for sweetness. It contains applesauce, dried apples, and raisins.
9. Seven Sundays Gluten Free Muesli Classic Bircher Mix
Rather than added sugars, this gluten-free muesli is sweetened with apples, dates, and currants.
It’s also particularly high in fiber, supplying 21 % of the DV per 1/2 cup serving.
Key takeaways for choosing a sugar free granola
When shopping for a sugar-free granola, consider the amount of total sugar, added sugar, and the nutritional value.
To get a more nutritional bang for your buck, choose sugar free granola (or granolas with no sugar added) that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat.
For a satisfying breakfast or snack, pair your granola with yogurt, milk, or your favorite plant-based milk alternative.
GreenChoice, PBC has evaluated and rated more than 340,000 food & beverage products across hundreds of attributes related to diet, health, and sustainability. Easily find the best products for you, the planet, & your budget. Download the free GreenChoice app for Apple iO or Android!