Cereal is one of the most common breakfasts that we see here in the United States. With that, it can be quite overwhelming to walk down the never-ending cereal aisle at the store and try to select a healthy choice…
Have no fear anymore! Let’s discuss the things to look for and stay away from on the nutrition label of breakfast cereals:
1) Check the calories first and make sure you are not sabotaging your morning with a high caloric intake. Many cereal marketing companies are sneaky and know that shoppers are looking for a number around 100 so they will lower the serving size amount in order to make the calories fit our needs. Do not be fooled! If you pick a cereal that has a serving size of 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup be ready to switch your measuring cup size in the morning.
2) Look out for the sugar high cereals! Just because a cereal is low in calories does not mean that it is low in sugar. You are hitting close to half of the recommended added sugar amount with just 3/4 cup of Captain Crunch!
3) Stay clear of cereals with trans fat. Be sure to check the ingredients for hydrogenated oils which is another term for trans fat.
4) Select cereals that are higher in fiber. This one is my personal favorite to discuss, I get very angered when I watch a commercial for ‘whole grain cinnamon toast crunch’ advertising how it is a great source of dietary fiber for your kids. Check the labels please, and you will find that almost all colorful, candy-like cereals are raving about only 1 gram of fiber per serving. Your goal for the day is to shoot for at least 25 grams of fiber! For example, Cheerios are low in calories, low in sugar, low in sodium, but not the highest in fiber. I was happy when Multigrain Cheerios came onto the shelves, but upon inspection found that the fiber content was identical to the original cheerios! Check the ingredients on the box to be sure you are paying for real fiber content not just some food dye or molasses. Key words to look for at the top of the list are whole-grain barley, whole wheat, oatmeal, whole oats, and whole-grain corn.
Some cereals that I have found to be filling (because they are higher in fiber), lower in calories, fat and sugar include: Kashi Go Lean, Shredded Wheat and Grape Nuts. For a change of scenery in the morning, try a cereal parfait (greek yogurt, cereal and fresh fruit) instead of just cereal with milk. What are some of your favorite healthy cereal options??
Jessica Hummel, Nutrition Counselor