A recent study my Choice Magazine in Australiahas shown that many commercial mueslis are very unhealthy and contain loads of sugar and twice the fat found in a Double Quarter Pounder hamburger (McDonald's). The famous consumer organisation tested about 160 types of muesli and and found that most were not a healthy choice for breakfast.
Whilst is true that most of the fat tended to be the 'good' unsaturated type many muesli contain far too much fat. Some of the fat comes from oats, seeds and nuts but many of the toasted varieties have the ingredients coated with fat and sugar. Buyers should always read the food labels very carefully.
Most people who are concern about this make their own muesli to ensure that there is no added sugar and fat and there are no 'surprises' in the ingredients.
The study found that two gluten-free varieties contained a huge 43 % of sugar, which is 7 % more than the infamous Kelloggs Coco Pops.
If you are eating muesli as part of a diet to lose weight then the overall sugar and fat content and calories in the serving content needs to be considered.
Even a small servings may be laden with calories especially if there are high levels of dried fruit and nuts.
Choice has recommended that a traffic light colour system of labelling be added to all mueslis that rate the fibre, fat, energy and sugar content of the muesli.
Choice also found about 75% of muesli products claimed to be healthy in one way or the other. The claims included:
But these claims are often misleading.
For example the claim that one muesli's claimed that it contained 'no added sugar' does not mean that the product is sugar free - far from it.
The inclusion of dried fruit and added honey meant that the product was 28 % sugar by weight.
When buying muesli is it crucial that you check the food value information panel and look at the ingredients list.
Look especially for added honey, glucose and sugars and the total sugar and fat content by weight.
Ignore the 'no added sugar' claim and look at total sugars.
The phrase was coined around 1900 by M. Bircher-Benner, a Swiss physician, who used a diet of fresh fruit, raw vegetables and nuts to treat his patients. The original Bircher muesli was uncooked rolled oats soaked in water or fruit juice for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. It was served with fresh fruit pieces and nuts. Nowadays, Bircher- or Swiss-style mueslis tend to be raw oats mixed with other cereals, seeds, nuts and various dried fruits.
The term natural implies that the muesli hasn't been toasted or baked, but you need to note that this does not mean an untouched healthy muesli with no additives. Many mueslis marketed as 'natural' have various additives such as sugar, oils, and this can boost the nutrient levels to more than 20% fat or 25% sugar.
In the past, toasted mueslis were often higher in fat, but this depends on how much fat and sugar is added to the natural ingredients. Fruit and nuts are naturally high in calories and nuts have high levels of fats. Check the amount of added sugar or honey in the ingredients list.
This type of muesli-like cereal was invented in New York more than 100 years ago. Granula consisted of wholegrain products clustered together and baked until to form crispy nodules or pieces. It was revived and called a 'health food' in the 1960s, when fruits and nuts were added. The name 'granola' is trademarked in Australia by Sanitarium company, but there are plenty of granola-style products on the shelves, usually marketed as 'clusters' or crunchola'. Most granola-style products are oat-based. The majority contain oil and sugar (sometimes honey or other sweet syrups) which are used to bind the grains and other ingredients together.
Below is a summary of ingredients in a range of the Best of the Best Australian Mueslis (most healthy ones). While many of these varieties may not be available where you live it illustrates the range of the good, the bad and the ugly. It emphasises the need to check the ingredients and food labels.
Combine all the dry ingredients (omitting the dried fruit). Warm the honey and juice, mix well and then pour over the dry ingredients, and combine well. This muesli can be used raw or toasted. To toast, place the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, bake at 150 degrees C (300 degrees F) for about 30 minutes or until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Mix the dried fruit with baked ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Note: Other dried fruits can be used instead — try cranberries, currants, figs, raisins, banana or pears.
Percent of daily needs f