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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Common Food Elements and Diet Facts >>  Cereals

Cereal Nutrition Facts

Besides carbohydrates cereals also provide proteins, calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, fiber and B-complex vitamins. Always prefer whole cereals over refined ones as in the process of refining the bran and the germ layer of the grain in removed. This leads to loss of nutrients and thus a refined cereal is deficient in many vital nutrients and fiber. Examples of refined carbohydrates are white rice, white flour (refined flour), pasta and noodles made from white flour, white breads and sugary cereals.

Cereals and nutrition

  • 55 to 60% calories should be contributed by cereal group and maximum of which should be from unrefined cereals to meet the daily nutritional and fiber requirement.
  • Whole cereals contain complex carbohydrates which comprises of glycogen, starch and fiber (non-starch polysaccharide) which after breakdown in the body provides energy in the form of glucose and adds bulk to the diet.
  • If you have gluten sensitive enteropathy where in gluten – a wheat protein cannot be tolerated; the goodness of cereals can be gained from brown rice, rice bran, millets, sorghum, buckwheat and breads made from these products.
  • On the other hand gluten found in wheat, barley, oats and rye is necessary in bread making (for a bread to rise).

Cereal facts


  • A refined cereal strips 66% fiber, 62% folate, 92% selenium and 99% phytochemicals that are essential for a healthy living.
  • Phytoestrogens (lignans) that prevents heart diseases and certain cancers, phytic acid that helps lowering the blood sugar and phenolic compounds that fights diseases are also decreased significantly in the refining process.
  • Cereals lack an essential proteins – lysine. When cereal is combined with a pulse the protein quality improves as pulses are rich in lysine.
  • Fat content in cereals is very low, around 2 – 5 % per 100 gm, but this cannot be underestimated as this small quantity contributes to more then 50% of our daily essential fatty acid requirement.
  • Sprouting cereals increases the nutritional value by many folds.
  • Cereals lack in vitamin C and vitamin A (only yellow maize and few varieties of sorghum contain small amounts of vitamin A).

For a healthy living and to gain the maximum nutritional benefits include whole wheat cereals, breads and pastas, brown rice, parboiled rice, oats and oat meal, bulgur or cracked wheat, wheat germ, whole grain cereals, berley, rye, buckwheat, quinoa, maize and millets in your daily diet. Start your day with a bowl of a healthy breakfast cereal and milk for energy that would keep you going for hours.

Cereals and grains are actually varieties of grasses, but in popular culture and in the context of diet and nutrition when we speak of cereals we are only referring to the edible parts of the plant. Cereals are cultivated for their fruit seeds. As strange as it may seem, grain is classified as both a fruit and a vegetable, a fact that most of us are unaware of. Cereal grains constitute the largest category of cultivated crops and the cultivation of cereal crops meet the worldwide food requirement more than any other variety of crops. Grain or cereal has in fact been the staple food for most populations across the world since the origins of farming and the birth of civilization. Cereals in a way provided the sustenance for the growth and evolution of modern civilization. The nutrition facts of a cereal box will be printed on the label of the box and you should study it in detail rather than just glace at it. Make sure that you also research various cereal brands and keep in mind that cereal nutrition facts comparison is a great way of choosing a specific brand for regular consumption. Cereal nutrition comparison includes finding out the information and other relevant facts from the labels of the cereal boxes and then deciding on one that matches your nutritional requirements.

Today, most of us tend to regard cereal products and cereals as nothing more than foods filled with starch. This is a misconception, but an understandable one, because most cereal products consist of refined cereals that have been so heavily processed that there is little nutritional value left in them. Commercial products like biscuits and cakes for example consist of little other than over refined cereals that have almost all of their nutritional value stripped away, with the exception of starch. In addition to the already depleted nutritional value of these foods, they are then loaded with artificial flavoring ingredients, preservatives, sugar and fat. This holds true for breakfast cereals as well, which many tend to believe are extremely natural. Most cereal products are therefore so far removed from their original source that their nutritional value bears little semblance to their primary ingredient – cereal.

If you were to dig a little deeper however and investigated the nutritional value of unrefined grains, you would be surprised to find that they contain a wealth of nutrients. Grains have traditionally been the staple food for civilizations for millennia, with cereals like wheat, barley, oats and rye sustaining populations across Europe, the Americas, South East Asia and Africa. Grains and cereals still account for the bulk of the diet in most parts of the developing world, particularly in South Asia. These dietary trends also demonstrate a corresponding variation in health conditions and digestive disorders across the world. Several types of cereals are high in fiber and iron and very often cereals with iron supplementation is recommended for diabetics and people suffering from anemia.

Cereals in their natural form are referred to as whole grain and are a rich source not just for dietary fiber, but also for a variety of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, oils, fats and proteins. The processes that are used for the refinement of grain however remove the bran and germ, leaving behind the endosperm. What is left behind for consumption therefore constitutes largely of carbohydrates and lacks most of the other nutrients. If you truly wish to derive the health and nutritional benefits of cereals it would be advisable to toss out the breakfast cereals and other refined foods and instead switch to a diet that consists primarily of whole meal grains and cereals. If you, like countless other people battling with weight problems, have asked the question “what's the best cereal for weight loss”, you are on the right track. Weight loss with unprocessed cereals has become increasingly common as it is a great high –nutrition but low-calories breakfast option.

Cereal Nutrition Facts

Just like seeds, cereals are a great source of nutrition because they are endowed with all the nutrients that are essential for the embryo plant to begin growing. Unrefined or whole cereals are not just a rich source of carbohydrates, but they also contain a variety of nutrient groups like proteins, the B vitamins, vitamin E and also minerals like iron. Unrefined cereals also contain some amount of fat and trace minerals and most importantly they are a very rich source of dietary fiber. Keep in mind that certain cereals like barley, rye, wheat and oats contain gluten, which is a protein. Coeliac disease and gluten intolerance are two health conditions that can cause adverse reactions to the ingestion of gluten containing foods, and anyone suffering from these diseases should be cautious when consuming cereals. Make sure that the cereals you consume do not contain any gluten. Cereal products from gluten containing cereals are popular and widely consumed as gluten is essential for leavened bread making. When choosing from various breakfast cereal options for kids it is important to check the total calories as well as the cereal facts pertaining to nutrition to help you make your choice.
The high carbohydrate content in cereals makes them a great source of energy and an important constituent in any high carb diet.

The Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts of Cereal

• Cereals are the most abundant source of energy and they account for 30% of the calorie intake in western diets, while these figures are much higher in rural and developing areas of the world, particularly in South East Asia and Africa, where cereals account for as much as 70 to 80% of the caloric intake.
• Cereals are a rich source of fiber of both the soluble and insoluble varieties such as pectin, cellulose and hemicelluloses. The consumption of cereals therefore helps improve peristalsis in the intestine and it also gives bulk to stools. Diets that are deficient in fiber can cause severe digestive health problems. Fiber found in cereals also helps in the gradual release of glucose from foods consumed, thereby helping maintain stable blood sugar levels.
• Protein content varies among the different varieties of cereals, with rice containing les than most other cereals. The quality of protein in rice is however much higher. Cereals like wheat on the other hand contain gluten proteins like glutelins, albumins, and globulins. It should also be pointed out that since cereal proteins are deficient in lysine it is best to include pulses as well in your diet as they are rich in lysine, while lacking in methionine, which is again abundant in cereals.
• Cereals are also a healthy source of fats or lipids and can provide for half of our nutritional requirements of essential fatty acids.
• Minerals like copper, zinc and manganese are present in small quantities in cereal, but most cereals are poor sources of minerals like calcium and iron. Phylates that are present in cereal may in fact inhibit the absorption of iron.
• Most cereals are a healthy source of the B vitamins, and oils extracted from cereals are rich in vitamin E. The nutritional value is however lost with refinement.

Some nutrition cereal bars may contain several unhealthy additives and so it would be wise to research the facts about a certain bar before you decide to include it in your regular diet.

Submitted on January 16, 2014