Whether you regularly buy them or not, you’ve no doubt seen granola and cereal on the shelves of your local grocery store. They share a lot of the same ingredients, so you may be wondering what the difference is between these two products.
Read on for an in-depth comparison of granola and breakfast cereal. From taste to nutrition, we’ve got all the must-know info about these two tasty morning treats!
What’s the Difference Between Granola and Cereal?
Though they have much in common, granola and cereal are distinct products.
Granola was invented by James Caleb Jackson, an American physician, in the late 1800s.
It is made by mixing oats, nuts, and dried fruits with oil and some kind of sweetener (like cane sugar, maple syrup, or honey). It’s commonly eaten with milk, on top of yogurt, or enjoyed dry, straight out of the bag.
Cereal, on the other hand, is made from processed grains. Warm cereals (like grits and porridge) have a long history, but cereal, as we know it today, was popularized in the US in the late 19th century.
While cereal can also be made from nuts, rolled oats, and dried fruit, it tends to be more processed than granola. Though granola contains cereal elements, ingredients are baked in a sweetening agent to achieve a crispy coating.
Granola is typically made from:
- Whole oats
- Dried fruit
- Added sweeteners
Breakfast cereals, on the other hand, usually contain:
- Whole grains (oats, rice, wheat, corn)
- Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
- Extras like chocolate and marshmallows
Nutritional Value Comparison
It’s tricky to compare the nutritional profile of granola and cereal because there are so many brands and product types out there.
Among refined cereals, nutrition profiles vary massively. High-sugar and high-carb cereals like Krave and Coco Pops have more calories and offer fewer health benefits. There are healthier alternatives out there, though, like cornflakes and bran flakes.
Two of the most nutritious cereals are porridge (made from rolled oats) and shredded wheat. These both contain fiber, specifically a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which lowers cholesterol.
On the whole, granola is typically more nutritious. It provides a protein hit, as well as micronutrients (such as iron, folate, vitamin D, and zinc). It is also a great source of vitamin B.
The Granola and Muesli Distinction
Given their close similarities, you most likely think of granola and muesli as interchangeable terms. But you may be surprised to hear that they are different products! So what’s the difference?
It’s all in the cooking process. Granola is baked (usually with sweeteners), while muesli is raw and contains dried fruits for sweetness.
What Do Customers Like About Granola?
In 2020, an estimated 165 million Americans enjoyed granola as a snack. You might be wondering, what do customers love so much about this product?
Here are some of granola’s main selling points.
- It’s quick and easy. A box of granola keeps for a long time, making it a great product to keep in your cupboard. It can be enjoyed at home or on the go, making it a favorite of hikers.
- It’s tasty! Granola has a distinctive sweetness, thanks to the honey or syrup that it’s coated in.
- It’s a source of energy and fiber. Containing both fiber and protein, granola provides consumers with a quick energy hit. Like other high fiber foods, granola is known to improve gut health, as the fiber increases your level of healthy gut bacteria and reduces inflammation.
What Do Customers Like About Cereals?
It’s estimated that the US breakfast cereal market will be worth 50.7 billion dollars by 2030, as cereal is sky-rocketing in popularity!
Here are just some of the reasons that so many Americans enjoy cereals daily:
- There’s so much variety to enjoy. From Post’s Oreo-Os to Bran Flakes, there’s a long list of different cereal brands to choose from. Whatever your preference, there’s a breakfast cereal for every member of the family.
- It’s an easy (and tasty) breakfast. Rather than spending time cooking every morning, a bowl of healthy breakfast cereal is a quick way to start your day off right. Simply add milk and enjoy!
Which is a Better Choice?
There’s no simple answer to this question, as it depends on your needs and preferences.
If you love the taste of whole foods…
Go for granola! You can customize your breakfast by adding your favorite extras. This can be anything from chia seeds and other grains to brazil nuts and nut butters.
If you’d like to reduce blood sugar…
Opt for a low-sugar cereal, like shredded wheat or bran flakes. Be sure to avoid highly processed sugary cereals like Coco Pops and Krave.
If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure…
Choose granola over cereal. Both muesli and granola are known to improve blood pressure issues, as they are low in salt and fat. Granola can help to lower your risk of heart disease.
Can you eat granola like cereal?
While granola can be used as a cooking ingredient and makes a good topper for yogurt or smoothie, it can also be enjoyed with milk (like a cereal). One of granola’s key selling points is its versatility!
Is granola hard to digest?
Due to the fiber it contains, granola can contribute to healthier digestion. If you have trouble digesting food, however, you may want to avoid it. This is because it can be harder to digest than refined grains.
What is the best cereal to eat for breakfast?
If you’re searching for a healthy and hearty way to start the day, look no further than shredded whole wheat. While it’s high in fiber, it doesn’t contain any added salt or sugar.
Enjoy with milk (hot or cold), chopped fruit, and an optional spoonful of sugar for a balanced and tasty breakfast!
After making it to the end of this comparison article, you should have a clear idea of the difference between granola and cereal. Though they share common ingredients, these two products are far from identical.
Next time you’re browsing the breakfast aisle, remember to weigh up the factors of taste and nutrition. Provided you do this; you can’t go wrong!