When looking for healthy breakfast options, there are many people who state muesli is a good option. This will really depend on the type of muesli you buy. It’s important to watch out for additives that companies put in – and they certainly do!
With the right tips, you can make sure you only buy muesli that will fuel your body and avoid high blood sugar levels. In fact, with the right research, you could find out how to make your own muesli to help keep the sugar levels to a minimum and find something that keeps you feeling full throughout the morning.
So, it’s time for your ultimate buying guide for muesli. Here is all you need to know about buying and making your own healthy breakfast option.
Don’t Be Swayed By the Marketing Attempts
You will see many marketing elements on the packages for muesli. Companies will put “no added sugar” or “low sugar” on their packaging. Doesn’t this mean that the muesli is good for you?
Not quite. I’m going to let you into a little secret: the marketing terms like that aren’t restricted or monitored by health services. While there are some that companies must jump through hoops for, such as stating “gluten free,” there are others that companies are free to add on even if the terms aren’t quitetrue.
And the terms should be taken with a pinch of salt – no pun intended. You need to watch out for a slight stretch of the truth or some cleverly used terms.
For example, “no added sugar” doesn’t mean that there will be no sugar at all in the muesli. It just means that there is no sugar added to it. Remember that muesli tends to have fruit and other ingredients that naturally has sugar in them. So, your body will still get that sugar. If you want to find out how much, you can check the nutrition label to find out. The companies have to start the exact amount per portion of sugar that you will consume.
But what about the “low sugar” marketing term? Well, “low sugar” doesn’t mean no sugar. It just means that you’re not getting as much as you can in some other brands or in some of the higher sugar options from the same company.
The “low sugar” is a slightly more protected term. The companies will have to get below a certain percentage, but this can still be high for you. It’s still important to find out just how much sugar you’re getting by checking the nutritional labels.
You’ll want to check the claims of all other marketing materials, too. You’ll find “low GI,” “high fiber” and even “low fat” marketing terms all over the packaging. What the companies aren’t telling you is all the other nutritional information right away. You need to check the nutritional labels and the ingredients list to make sure the muesli really is good for you.
Low fat muesli will lose some of its taste. The companies add extra sugar to counter that so you could find that your low-fat option is so high in sugar that you’ll end up gaining weight anyway. Likewise, the low-fat options can also strip out some of the fiber. The extra sugar is going to metabolize quicker because there’s no fiber to balance it out.
You can also find that companies don’t always market their products for a specific audience or customer. If you’re looking for a high fiber option, you may find that the companies don’t label their products with it. They’re too busy marketing towards a different type of customer, or they don’t want to spend the money on the extra marketed packages.
In short, always (always!) check the nutritional labels. This will tell you everything you need to know about the muesli makeup to help you make the decision over whether this is healthy for you or not.
Yes, this will be a pain. The good news is that once you find a product, you can keep buying it. Just check the labels again every so often to make sure the brand hasn’t changed the makeup in a way that affects your health.
The Amounts of Fibre, Sugar, and Fat You Should Look Out For
Now that you’re checking the labels, you need to know what figures to look out for. How do you know at a glance that a certain brand or type of muesli is going to be good for your health?
Well, let’s start with the fiber. We need to get 30g of fiberdaily. Getting that in your breakfast is an excellent way to start the day, and it is relatively easy with oats, muesli, and similar products. In fact, most mueslis will give you an excellent amount offiber in just one serving, with some giving you up to 18% of your daily intake in one sitting!
The fiber will be listed by grams. You want to find muesli that offers between 4g and 7g of fiber in one portion. These range from good to excellent, according to the Food Standards Code. You’ll find that many muesli packets will give you around 8% of your daily intake with an average 50g bowl.
When you start with a good amount of fiber, you will help to keep yourself feeling full until lunch time. Fiber breaks down slowly and supports the digestive system. It is denser than other nutrients and helps to regulate your bowel movements. You may find that you don’t even need to snack until lunch time!
Sugar is the important element to look out for in any type of food. While fat was demonized for a long time, it turns out that it’s sugar that causes us to gain weight. And it’s not good for our health overall, either.
When our bodies get a lot of sugar, they react by releasing insulin. Our metabolisms have to work off the sugar, so put the other calories aside for the time being. Over time, our bodies get used to the levels of insulin, and those levels become ineffective. Bodies need to release more to tackle the same levels of sugar, and we are at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
So, we want food that is “low sugar.” This means you want to find muesli that has less than 5% sugar in one serving.
Again, don’t follow the “no added sugar” or even “no added cane sugar” marketing to assume that you will get a small amount of sugar in your muesli. This just means there’s no sugar been added to the mix, but there is still natural sugar from the dried fruit. And guess what! You could end up with 25% of your bowl being made up of sugar just from the natural sources!
Some mueslis have more sugar than the sugary cereals like Coco Pops, Rice Krispies, and Frosted Flakes! But because it has oats and nuts and there’s the marketing material saying that it has “no added sugar,” people believe that the muesli is going to be the healthier option.
Most nutrition labels will add in the percent of the sugars within a serving to make it easier for you to figure out if something is healthy for you. You’ll find the sugar under the carbohydrates – all foods have carbs, and not all carbs are bad! It’s the carbs that sugar that you want to keep to a minimum.
It’s possible to check the ingredients for an idea of the amount of sugar that you’ll consume. Watch out for the likes of maple syrup, glucose (or anything ending in “ose”) and honey. While some of these are natural, they are still sugars, and they will still react in the same way as refined sugars in your body.
Try to choose muesli that doesn’t have dried fruit included. If it does have dried fruit, look for those with low amounts of it. Dried fruit is the number one reason for high amounts of sugar in muesli and other similar types of cereal. Sure, fruit is good for you, but dried fruit removes the water. The sugar content metabolizes faster in your body.
Finally, we have the fat content. Fat can be good, and the body does need some of it in the system. When you get good levels of healthy fat, your body can release ketones. These ketones help to fuel the body for longer and will aid with weight loss.
But you still want to watch out for fat that you add to each meal. Muesli tends to be higher in fat than other cereals, but the fats are good for you. They’re unsaturated options from nuts, seeds, and oats.
Many brands won’t even tell you that the muesli is low in fat compared to other cereals. You need to make sure that you really are just getting a small amount of healthy fat. You don’t need more than 3% fat in one serving, and this fat should be unsaturated.
The nutrition labels will always break down the types of fat that you consume. You’ll see the total fats and then a “that saturates” or something similar underneath it. The “saturates” element wants to be as close to 0 as possible. The amount that is unsaturated should have a much higher ratio.
You’ll be able to take a guess at healthy vs. unhealthy fats based on the ingredients lists. If you see a lot of nuts and seeds, you know you’re getting plenty of unsaturated fats. These will also have plenty of protein and fiber to help regulate your metabolism and digestion.
Watch out for vegetable oils, which tend to include trans fats. The trans fats are the unhealthiest types that you can get. They are higher in cholesterol and cause arteries to block.
If you do enjoy the higher fat mueslis, there is nothing stopping you from eating them. Just opt for smaller portion sizes and have a piece of fruit to help fill you up for the morning.
Surely You Can Have Some Fruit, Right?
I know that fruitless muesli can taste bland, but it is the best option for you. Instead of getting a brand that is packed full of fruits, why not consider one that is packed with nuts? If you’re allergic to nuts, look for ones that have more seeds instead.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have any dried fruit. Due to the amount of fiber that you’ll get from the oats, you’ll be able to balance out some of the sugars. You can get low sugar options that still contain some dried fruit.
Look out for the options that only have some raisins added in. These are the healthier options compared to the mueslis with coconut, papaya, apricot, and many other high sugar fruits.
Instead of opting for dried fruit, you could also top yours off with some fresh fruit. Just get the oat and nut muesli and chop up a banana or some apple over the top.
With fresh fruit, you get the water content. This helps to balance out the natural fruit. You’re also getting all the nutrients and the fiber in the fresh fruit. You’ll find that your hunger levels are more balanced because you get the right nutrients in your system. Remember that water helps to keep you feeling fuller, so you eat less muesli in one sitting.
Most muesli that you buy will have at least one type of nut. This is important to look out for if you have a nut allergy, and you may find that you need to make your own muesli at home instead.
Some muesli have more than six types of seeds or nuts combined! They will often cut out the dried fruit, as you get plenty of taste from the extra ingredients. Some of the most common additions include almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Look out for options that include cashew nuts and pistachio nuts just to add some variety.
Natural, Bircher, Granola, Oh My!
Now we’re getting into other labels that tend to stand out on the different brands of muesli. You’ll see natural muesli, bircher muesli, and even granola. Just what are your options and how do they all differ? Is one healthier than the other?
Let’s start with natural muesli, which tends to appear better for you than all the rest. The implication is that the oats and other ingredients haven’t been baked or toasted. They are thrown in without any modification. What the “natural” label doesn’t tell you is if there is added sugar threw in or the fiber content ofa serving.
Really, this “natural” label means absolutely nothing regarding health. After all, the baking and toasting of ingredients do nothing to the makeup of the foods. It can just make a difference in the taste.
The second easiest one to get out of the way is a brand that says the muesli has been “toasted” or “baked.” “Roasted” is another popular term.
This type of muesli is the opposite to your natural muesli. It means that the oats, nuts, and other ingredients have been through the processes stated.
In the past, toasted or baked meant that the muesli had added fat. They needed additional ingredients to get the taste just right. This isn’t the case anymore, as technology and processes have changed. You may actually find that the toasted options are lower in fat, as they don’t use oils anymore for the process.
Make sure you do read the labels. Due to the way that roasting or toasting the ingredients can change the taste, some of them will add some sugar. Honey is the most commonly added ingredient. While it is natural and can be good for you in small amounts, it can also be bad for you if you have too much. Really, the honey is used to add a glazed look to the toasted ingredients and isn’t added for any other health benefits.
Still read the nutritional labels to find out just how much sugar is in the muesli. Up to 5% is a good amount.
Bircher muesli isn’t seen as commonly as the other two but is one of the oldest types. It was created by Max Bircher-Benner in the 1900s, who used the raw food diet to treat patients. His type of muesli used raw fruits, oats, and nuts soaked up in water or fruit juice. The fruits were all fresh, rather than the dried options used today.
You’ll find bircher muesli already made up. It’s more of a porridge than cereal and commonly uses grated apple for the natural, fresh fruit element. Unfortunately, the request for long-life muesli has meant that bircher muesli has changed to using dried fruit in many cases. You may also find them marketed as “Swiss-style” instead of Bircher.
Like with all the rest, it’s important to look at the ingredients list and the nutritional information. This will tell you about the amount of dried fruit included and the sugar levels. Some of the Swiss-style mueslis are now among the worst for sugar levels because of the multiple dried fruits added in.
Granola and muesli are commonly used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Granola was once called granular, and was invented in New York in the early 1900s – around the same time as the Swiss style option.
Rather than soaking the oats, granola used the baking of whole grain products to create a crispy breakfast cereal. It quickly became a health food in the 1960s, as nuts, fruits, and other “healthy” ingredients were added in.
After this point, the trademark “granola” was created, and some brands were marketed as clusters instead. The baking process helped to cluster the whole grains together to create slightly larger elements in the muesli-like cereal.
Many of the brands will use a sugary base to keep the whole grains together. Extra dried fruits are added for more of a sweet taste to start your day happily. Granolas can be extremely high in sugar, so you will definitely want to double check the ingredients and nutritional lists to make sure you put your health first.
What Else Should You Look Out for In Muesli?
There’s more than makes up food that fiber, fat, and sugars, right? Well, that is certainly the case, and there are certain types of nutrients that you will want to look out for in your muesli.
One of those is a type of fat. Many mueslis have now started adding in omega 3 fatty acids. These are powerful for balancing out the dangerous omega 6 fatty acids and protecting your overall health. You’ve likely heard of omega 3 when it comes to oily fish, which is often recommended for brain function and cognitive health.
Sure enough, omega 3 will help to protect the cells in the brain. The fatty acids are like an antioxidant, helping to fight against the free radicals that build in the brain and affect the cells. Free radicals are to blame for many cognitive issues, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you want to avoid them in the future, focusing on a diet that protects the cells is important.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also excellent for boosting brain function. You’re more likely to grow your hippocampus, which means your memory and nerve functions are protected. Your brain will be able to release the right chemicals, keeping your mental and physical health protected.
At the same time, you’ll want to look at where on the glycaemic index your muesli is. This may be included on the packaging somewhere, but you may have to do your research at home.
The glycaemic index is a look at how much sugar will boost metabolism in your body. It’s an indication of the amount of insulin that will be released and how much your blood sugar levels will be affected by the food you eat. You may be surprised to hear that while fruit (even fresh fruit) is full of nutrients, it can be high on the glycaemic index.
Look out for muesli that is 50 or lower on the index. This will help to support your blood sugar levels, lower your risk of developing Type II diabetes, and keep your insulin levels in check. You’ll also find that you have more energy throughout the day because the fiber levels are higher.
Also,find out about the amount of protein included in your muesli. Even when you’re getting plenty of fiber, you want to get plenty of protein. This is found in your nuts, so the more nuts you have in a serving, the better.
Protein is essential for the building of muscle, tendons, and other connective tissues. It is full of vitamin A that will support your bodily functions and helps with the repair process while exercising and living day to day. Your muscles repair better on a cellular level, meaning that you’re at a lower risk of injury, especially if you do a lot of exercise like strength training.
Let’s not forget about selenium levels. This is one of those nutrients that many people forget about. It’s so commonly forgotten that the majority of us are deficient in it in some way. And you may never have even heard of it!
Selenium deficiency has very similar symptoms as an iron deficiency, which is why it is so commonly overlooked. Doctors will spend so much time looking at your iron work that they forget about the selenium levels.
The great news is that muesli can be an excellent source of selenium. It’s found in the majority of nuts, especially your more oily nuts. If you get plenty of almonds, cashew nuts, and even walnuts in your muesli, you will find that the selenium levels are relatively high. Double check the nutrient labels to make sure of this.
Unfortunately, many of the nutrition labels will skip over the selenium – remember it’s commonly forgotten about! – so, you may need to check the ingredients list to find out just how much nutty goodness is added in.
If you’re allergic to nuts, you can get some selenium from seeds, but they’re not as effective. You may need to take selenium supplements to help keep your levels up.
Muesli Is Too Expensive: What Are My Options?
It always seems like muesli is one of the most expensive options in the breakfast aisle. Just why is that the case and is there any way around it?
Well, the “posh” options tend to be high in price. You’ll find those that are branded “Swiss” style or the “natural” types are more expensive than the others. This is partial to do with the way they are processed but more to do with the common misconceptions that they are healthier and tastier.
The truth is that even the cheap no name brands of muesli in the breakfast aisle can be good options for you. It’s not about the brand but the way they are made and the nutrients within them. Don’t forget to compare all your options to make sure you really are getting the healthiest options available to you.
One of the best ways to keep the costs down is by making your own. You get to buy the individual ingredients at a lower cost – and in bulk, so you can keep making your own muesli to suit your own tastes and preferences.
Make Your Own Muesli to Guarantee Your Health Is Protected
While we’ve been through the ultimate buying guide, there’s no denying one fact. The only person that has your health as a priority is you. Only you will know the levels that you can cope with of each different food group. Only you know where you’re deficient and where you could do with adding a little something.
That means the best type of muesli for you is going to be the type that you make yourself. There are a few different types of muesli that you can make to help give yourself some variety while putting your health first. All muesli is extremely simple. In the majority of cases, you’re just putting all the ingredients in a jar and shaking them together. Then you just pull out the servings as and when you need them!
Here are a few recipes for homemade muesli.
Nutty and Seedy Muesli
- 1 cup of oats
- ½ cup of almonds, chopped
- ½ cup of coconut, shredded
- 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup of chia seeds
- 1/3 cup of pepitas or pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup of linseeds
- ½ cup of walnuts, chopped
- 2tsp cinnamon
- Put everything together in a jar and shake to combine
- You can store this for a couple of weeks if the jar remains airtight
The major benefit of this recipe is that there is absolutely no added sugar. In fact, if you choose unsweetened coconut, you’re barely getting any natural sugar in the mix. And if you want to avoid any sugar, you can take out the coconut and add another type of nut or seed into the mix instead.
Of course, a small amount of coconut is good for you. It’s full of antioxidants that will help to keep your cells protected.
Healthy Fruity Muesli
- 2 cups of oats
- 1 cup of rice bran
- 2 cups of bran flakes
- ¾ cup of wheat bran
- 1 1/2tbsp sesame seeds
- ¾ cup of flaked coconut
- 2tbsp almonds
- 2tbsp honey
- 150ml orange juice, preferably fresh
- ½ cup of chopped apricots
- 6 pieces of dried apple, chopped
- 5 pieces of dried paw paw, chopped
- 5 pieces of dried mango, chopped
- ½ cup of sultanas
- 6 prunes, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 150C
- Combine all the dried ingredients except the fruit together
- Blend the juice and honey together and then warm in a microwave
- Pour the juice over the dry ingredients and combine
- Pour the soaked ingredients onto a baking tray and bake until golden
- Combine the ingredients with the fruit
- This mixture will keep for a few weeks if stored in an airtight container
You can use any dried fruits you want with this. Dried banana chips and figs tend to work well in place of the apples and prunes. You can also use dried papaya and peaches.
The downside to this recipe is that there is a lot of natural sugar. It’s tasty, but it is bad for you in large amounts. Keep your serving sizes down.
Paleo Friendly Muesli
- 2 cups of almonds
- ½ cup of sunflower seeds
- ½ cup of pumpkin seeds/pepitas
- ½ cup of walnuts
- ½ cup of coconut flakes
- ½ cup of chia seeds
- 1 cup of almond flour – you can make your own by blending down extraalmonds so you can avoid buying from the store!
- ¼ cup of coconut oil
- ½ cup of honey
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Chop the nuts to a smaller size that you prefer
- Combine everything up to the coconut oil in a mixing bowl
- Add in the oil, extract, and honey and stir until everything has been combined
- Spread out the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes
- Stir the ingredients again and then pop back in the oven for another 10 minutes
- Store for a few weeks in an airtight container
You’ll need to let the mixture cool before you do anything. The paleo recipe does take out the majority of added sugar. You get some with the honey, but it’s just a small amount of natural sugar. You’ll actually benefit from the vitamin C and antioxidants within the honey more than anything else.
The coconut oil is best not switched to another type. Coconut oil is full of antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. You’ll support your immune system and protect your body from the inflammatory response that can cause cell death and pain.
Sometimes It’s Not Just About the Muesli
What do you put on your muesli to soak into the oats? For most of us, it’s milk – or a milk alternative. Did you know that this could be the unhealthy part of your meal?
Milk contains lactose. Yes, this is sugar, and it’s completely natural. While it may be natural, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for you! Dairy milk does have plenty of calcium, but it also has some saturated fats. Like with anything, you want to consume your milk in moderation.
One of the best options could be to switch to almond milk. If you’re allergic to nuts, then you may want to consider soy milk instead. You’ll barely taste the difference when you make the switch, but you will notice it when it comes to the waistline.
There are fewer calories in many milk alternatives, and you’re getting rid of some of the sugar problems. But you will need to check the labels. Not all milk alternatives are made equally. Some will have added sugar to help create a similar milky taste.
Like with the muesli, you need to check the labels when buying any type of milk.
There are some people who will eat their muesli dry. This is especially the case for granola options, which tends to have the honey to glaze over the whole grains.
You could opt for some yogurt instead. Natural Greek yogurt has the dairy from the milk but without some of the sugars. You’ll be able to keep your blood sugar levels down and get extra fiber to boost your day.
It’s also important to think about any toppings that you put on your muesli. If you have plenty of nuts and fruit, you won’t need extra toppings, but there are people who will put sugar or honey over the top. Cut out the extras. You’re just adding unnecessary calories to the best start to your morning. If you really want something sweet, add in some fresh fruit to your muesli instead.
It’s Time to Buy the Right Muesli
There are just so many brands and boxes of muesli out there. Even brands will have different types of muesli available. Standing in the breakfast cereal aisle can be time-consuming and tiring. Just how do you know which is the best type of muesli for your diet? Why can’t they all be made them same?
It’s tempting to cheat by looking at the marketing terms on the front of the boxes. Hold your horses before you do this and make sure you check the labels. Remember that those marketing terms are designed to draw you in. The companies don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart. They don’t care about your health but about the amount that they are able to sell. Companies know that their customers are interested in cutting down their sugar content or increasing their fiber content and they use marketing terms to alert you to certain products.
Not all the health benefits will even be labeled on the front. You’ll need to spend time looking through the nutrition label and the ingredients list just to see what you’re consuming in one serving.
That doesn’t mean high sugar options are necessarily off the market for you. You’ll need to think about how to consume less sugar from your favorite brands – and one of the ways is to reduce the amount of muesli you eat in one serving. You instantly cut down the amount of sugar and saturated fat you consume.
Follow this ultimate buying guide, and you will find muesli that protects your health – or just the ingredients to make your own at a lower cost!