Granola — a food that seamlessly transitioned from a harmless hippie staple to a sugar-laden breakfast confection — is still getting the better of the American masses. In a new survey published in the New York Times this weekend, it was discovered that a surprising number of Americans still consider granola and its blockheaded friend, the “granola bar,” to be a healthy thing to eat. Not so, say nutritionists.
The Times had the genius idea of surveying 2,000 Americans on which foods they believed to be healthy, then contrasted their opinions with those of 672 professional nutritionists. Very often, the nutritionists surveyed were in disagreement with the American public on what is considered “a healthy food.” While 80 percent of Americans surveyed believed granola to be healthy, only 47 percent of nutritionists said the same. What could be behind that divergence? Sugar, of course.
Several of the foods considered more healthful by everyday Americans than by experts, including frozen yogurt, a SlimFast shake, and granola bars, have something in common: They can contain a lot of added sugar. In May, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new template for nutrition labels, and one priority was to clearly distinguish between sugars that naturally occur in food and sugars that are added later to heighten flavors. (You’d be surprised how many foods contain added sugar.) It’s possible nutritionists know this, but the public still does not.
The second biggest disagreement between nutritionists and Americans, behind granola bars, was over coconut oil: 72 percent of Americans believed coconut oil to be healthy, while only 37 percent of nutritionists did.
But we can at least agree on some things. Nearly all surveyed said that apples were healthy and white bread was unhealthy. The lies of Big Granola, however, continue apace!