Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but it’s not always the healthiest. Take granola, one of the simplest options for mornings when you hit the snooze button one too many times. Most store-bought granolas are made with a combination of five classic components: grains, nuts or seeds, sweeteners, oil, and salt.
But not all of those ingredients that go inside are created equal. Many brands you find on supermarket shelves are sweetened with refined sugar and corn syrup—not exactly the best fuel to put inside your body first thing in the morning. The lack of wholesome options was what inspired Elizabeth Stein to start her company, Purely Elizabeth, in 2009. If you’re a granola lover, or just need something quick to eat before heading out the door, Purely Elizabeth’s goods are a great—and tasty!—way to add some good-for-you nutrients to your daily diet. Here’s a look inside one of our favorites: the Ancient Grain Granola.
Each bite of oats contains key nutrients, like beta-glucan, a type of fiber to help keep you full, and the antioxidant avenanthramide, which may help lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Nuts and Seeds
A single serving of chia seeds supplies all nine essential amino acids (typically only found in animal protein). They’re also rich in omega-3s and high in antioxidants, which may provide brain-boosting benefits and increase energy.
Another complete protein, amaranth is among the most nutritious vegetable-based protein sources (great news for vegans and vegetarians!). In 2014, a study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research suggested amaranth might play a role in treating arthritis naturally, and can help reduce symptoms of other inflammatory conditions.
Sunflower seeds are a healthy source of essential fatty acids. After analyzing 27 popular snack foods, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found sunflower seeds had one of the highest levels of phytosterols, a family of molecules that may help reduce cholesterol.
Quinoa “flakes” are made simply by flattening whole quinoa seeds. That means they give you all the same benefits: B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamins. The seed is also high in fiber yet relatively low in calories, great for keeping you full after a meal.
Coconut palm sugar
Made by dehydrating the sap of coconut palm trees, coconut sugar is a granulated, natural sugar with a low glycemic index. It also contains inulin, a dietary fiber that feeds the probiotics, or good bacteria, in your digestive tract.
Although high in saturated fat, the type of saturated fats in coconut oil—medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—is rapidly metabolized by the liver and becomes immediately available as an energy source. Several studies have also concluded coconut oil can raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind) while simultaneously lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
Sea salt is made by gathering sea water, drying it in the sun, then letting the water evaporate (that process is responsible for its trademark coarse texture). Minimally processed sea salts (like the kind inside Purely Elizabeth granola) typically contain 60 trace minerals, which can help keep the body’s electrolytes in balance.
We’d love to hear from you, too! What’s your favorite way to eat granola? Let us know in the comments!
Photo credit: Alicia Cho