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Is gluten free granola good for you?

Gluten free granola has become a popular alternative for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. But is it actually healthier than regular granola? Here is a comprehensive look at the nutrition, benefits, and downsides of going gluten free with your granola.

What is gluten free granola?

Gluten free granola has all the crunchy, clustered goodness of regular granola, but it is made without wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing grains. Instead, it is made with gluten free whole grains and oats that have been certified gluten free.

Some examples of ingredients commonly used in gluten free granola include:

  • Gluten-free oats
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Nuts like almonds, pecans or walnuts
  • Dried fruit like raisins, cranberries or apricots
  • Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower or chia
  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Coconut oil or olive oil
  • Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger

The exact ingredients can vary widely between different brands and recipes. But the core essence of crunchy toasted oats and nuts bound together with sweetener remains the same.

Nutritional comparison of gluten free vs regular granola

At a glance, gluten free and regular granola appear very similar nutritionally. They both can be excellent sources of:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins
  • Antioxidants

However, there are some key differences to be aware of:

Nutrient Gluten free Regular
Fiber Tends to be slightly higher Tends to be slightly lower
Protein Comparable protein when oats and quinoa are used Comparable protein from oats and wheat
Fat Comparable when using nuts, seeds, oil Comparable when using nuts, seeds, oil
Carbs Typically lower glycemic index Can be higher glycemic index
Vitamins & minerals Good sources like quinoa, millet and buckwheat Lower in B vitamins due to lack of wheat

Gluten free granola made with nutrient-dense grains like quinoa and buckwheat tends to be slightly higher in fiber. The protein content is comparable, especially when gluten free oats are used.

However, gluten free granola lacks the B vitamins provided by wheat-based granola. And it tends to have a lower glycemic index due to the use of grains like quinoa and millet.

Glycemic index explained

The glycemic index measures how quickly a food causes spikes in your blood sugar. High glycemic foods like white bread cause rapid spikes, while low glycemic foods like quinoa cause a more gradual rise.

Focusing on low glycemic grains like quinoa can help control blood sugar levels, especially for those with diabetes or metabolic disease.

Benefits of gluten free granola

Here are some of the key benefits that gluten free granola offers:

1. No gluten

This one is obvious – but for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, having granola made without gluten containing ingredients is crucial. Even small amounts of gluten from contaminated oats can cause issues for those with celiac.

2. Nutrient-dense grains

Gluten free granola allows you to get nutrients from grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and millet. These provide minerals like iron, magnesium and manganese, as well as all nine essential amino acids.

3. Higher fiber

On average, gluten free granolas contain more fiber than traditional oat-based granolas. This is beneficial for digestion, heart health, stabilizing blood sugar, and maintaining a healthy weight.

4. Lower glycemic index

The grains used in gluten free granola like quinoa and millet have a lower glycemic index than wheat products. This means they won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly.

5. Contains healthy fats

Most granola gets its crunchy texture from nuts and seeds, which provide healthy fats. This includes monounsaturated fats from almonds and pecans, and omega-3s from walnuts, flax and chia seeds.

6. Good source of protein

Between gluten free oats, nuts, seeds, and ancient grains like quinoa, gluten free granola can provide substantial amounts of plant-based protein.

7. Simple, recognizable ingredients

If you make your own granola at home, you’ll end up with an ingredients list you understand. This includes basic whole food ingredients like oats, nuts, coconut, and maple syrup or honey.

Downsides of gluten free granola

However, there are also some potential downsides to keep in mind:

1. Lower B vitamin levels

One of the tradeoffs of avoiding wheat is missing out on the B vitamins it contains. Wheat contains substantial amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate.

2. Added sugar content

Store-bought gluten free granola can sometimes contain added sugars to make up for the lack of gluten. Make sure to check labels and choose options made with just coconut oil and maple syrup or honey.

3. High calorie density

All granola tends to be very calorie dense, thanks to the nuts, seeds, dried fruit and oil. Pay attention to serving sizes, as it’s easy to overeat.

4. Cost

Unfortunately, gluten free specialty products usually come with a higher price tag. Gluten free grains and oats are inherently more expensive. Making your own lets you save money.

5. Potential for cross-contamination

Even oats labelled gluten free can get contaminated along the supply chain. This can be an issue if you are highly sensitive. Choose brands that are certified gluten free.

What to look for when buying gluten free granola

If purchasing gluten free granola, here are some tips for choosing a healthy option:

  • Opt for recognizable, whole food ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, fruit, maple syrup or honey. Avoid added sugars.
  • Look for plenty of fiber (5g+ per serving) and protein (5g+ per serving).
  • Seek out additional superfoods like quinoa, chia or flaxseeds for extra nutrition.
  • Make sure the oats are certified gluten free to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Look for minimal added oils – olive or coconut oil are healthiest.
  • Pick low sugar varieties with under 10g per serving, and avoid high fructose corn syrup.
  • Look for whole grain gluten free flours like buckwheat or millet – not just tapioca starch.

Healthy gluten free granola recipe

Want to ensure your granola is both gluten free AND healthy? Making it yourself is the best way. Here is a simple recipe to get you started:


  • 3 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together – the oats, buckwheat, quinoa flakes, nuts, seeds, and coconut.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients – the maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat everything.
  5. Spread the granola evenly on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving or storing.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Gluten free granola can be a nutritious addition to a gluten free diet. It provides an excellent source of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and key vitamins and minerals. Just be mindful of added sugar content if purchasing pre-made options.

Making your own gluten free granola at home using whole food ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, and alternative grains like quinoa is the healthiest approach. This allows you to control the sugar and create a nutrient-packed gluten free granolaClusters low in glycemic index are also key for keeping blood sugar levels stable.

Overall, gluten free granola that is based on whole foods can be a tasty and nutritious breakfast option for those following a gluten free diet when enjoyed in moderation alongside fruit, yogurt or milk.