Toasted or natural muesli? Granola or clusters? And what about Bircher? HFG dietitian Melissa Meier shares what to look for when choosing muesli, so you can have the healthiest start to your day.
Breakfast didn’t acquire its reputation as the most important meal of the day for nothing. A healthy morning meal gives you the vital energy to power through the morning, provides vital nutrients like fibre and iron, and helps you to maintain a healthy waistline. A nourishing breakfast can even boost your mood and mental health.
Muesli is a popular brekkie option — but there is a vast difference between high-fibre oat blends and sugar-laden toasted clusters. If you like muesli, here’s what you need to know.
What types of muesli are there?
- Untoasted, raw or natural muesli usually starts with a base of rolled oats, loaded with nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit. Untoasted muesli is usually lower in saturated fat and added sugars than the toasted varieties, making it a healthy choice.
- Toasted muesli has usually been coated in either sugar or fat — or both — and baked until golden. Toasted muesli can be high in kilojoules.
- Chunky clusters & granola are clumps of muesli bound together with ingredients like honey or oil. They are usually higher in kilojoules, sugar and/or fat than untoasted varieties.
- Bircher or Swiss Bircher muesli is made by soaking oats in juice or water, then adding grated fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts and/or seeds.
How to make your muesli healthier
Plain, untoasted muesli is often your best bet. Here are three healthy ways to boost your breakfast:
- Unsweetened yoghurt or milk for a hit of bone-strengthening calcium and for hunger-busting protein.
- Fruit for natural sweetness, satisfying fibre and disease-fighting antioxidants. Dried fruit is a concentrated source of sugar, so it’s best to choose fresh (or frozen) fruit most of the time.
- Nuts and seeds add healthy fats and crunch. Mix it up with raw or toasted macadamias, walnuts, pepitas, or even a dollop of peanut butter. Yum!
What to watch for when buying muesli
While some of the sugar in muesli comes naturally from dried fruit, always scan the ingredients list for added sugars, which could be in the form of honey, maple syrup or rice malt syrup. Compare the ‘per 100g’ column to find a muesli with the lowest sugar content.
Muesli can be high in fat due to nuts, seeds and oils. Nuts and seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats that are good for your heart and brain, but some oils, such as coconut oil, can be high in saturated fat. Check the ingredients list to find out where the fat is coming from.
A healthy serving of muesli is ¼ to ½ cup