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Breakfast aficionados and fitness freaks tend to eat either inter-changeably as both are widely acknowledged as healthy options. But are they really an either/or option? Which one scores higher on the fitness chart?


Eat This, Skip That: Let's Hear From Muesli

To cut a long story short, muesli is any mix of whole grains, nuts, seeds and dry fruits. Unlike granola, the grains are raw and it’s usually eaten with milk/yoghurt. Full of fibre, it keeps you feeling full longer, and the protein supports weight loss. It is also rich in complex carbs and is an excellent source of B vitamins, zinc and iron. All types of muesli will contain natural sugar, but some have added amounts of honey and syrup. Thus, both the calories and fat content varies from brand to brand.


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Over to Oats

Oatmeal or rolled oats, on the other hand, is a grain that is full of dietary fibre and is rich in good cholesterol and heart healthy, if unprocessed. A paper published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine concludes that the consumption of oats and oat-based products significantly reduces total cholesterol and LDL or the unhealthy component of cholesterol, without adverse effects on theh concentrations of HDL, the good cholesterol."


Depending on the brand, a half cup of oats has 150 to 200 calories whereas Muesli has anywhere between 250 to 300 plus calories.


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Which is better?

"Oats is usually considered the better option since it has less sugar and is a better option for weight watchers. But that is not always the case. There is plenty of maple and sugar syrup in several pre-mixed versions. Besides this, there are several desi options like masala oats that are high on sodium and preservatives," says Mumbai-based nutritionist Supriya Goel. "This negates the health benefits."


On the other hand, Muesli can be healthier if care is taken to use the unsweetened versions. "It is also better than other breakfast cereals for the sheer variety of cereals, but the oil used in toasting the grain can be a source of transfats," she says. "Its complex carbs, fibre, protein and nutrients can be included in a weight-loss diet, but watch your portions to limit calories. Please be sure to note that using either muesli or oats in cookies and breads is not an option if either weight loss or fitness are your mantra," she cautions.


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Expert Verdict

Experts at the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, sum it up best. "There are lots of varieties of oats or muesli available in the market. Depending on how the muesli is made and the proportions of cereals combined to prepare muesli, the content of fibre, fat and sugar can vary. At any point, high fibre and low fat and sugar varieties are better than the instant variety. Rolled or steel oats also come under the healthy cereal category rather than instant ones."

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