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How To Choose The Best Breakfast Cereal?

Submitted on November 1, 2013
Breakfast cereal can be tasteless- Willie Wonka says it’s made of pencil shavings! Here’s how you find the best cereal…
Breakfast Cereal

What could be better than starting off your day with one whole serving of nutritious grains? Any health guru will tell you that opting for the right breakfast is cereal very important. On the other hand, it is only natural for you to pick something that tastes good.

Fixing a bowl of cereal may be quite an easy task, but choosing a box of breakfast cereal is no piece of cake. Taking a walk down the breakfast cereal aisle in any supermarket is no less than going on a treasure hunt, especially if you are not sure about which type and brand you want to pick up. While some brands will tempt you because they are supposed to be low in sugar, others will claim to be good for your heart. If you start reading the fine print on each box that looks appealing, you will probably need to spend all day in that aisle. What’s worse is that after reading all labels carefully, you still can’t be sure if you’ve made the right choice or not.

While there is nothing like the “best’ breakfast cereal, some types may be healthier than others. Given below are a few useful tips that could help you separate the “good” ones from the others –

  • Opt for whole grains:Read the list of ingredients and only pick a cereal if its first ingredient is a whole grain. Make sure it has the word “whole” in front of the grain. Whole wheat flour and whole oats are examples of healthy breakfast cereal. These grains are good for weight management and have been known to reduce the risks of heart diseases as well as diabetes.
  • Look for fiber: Contrary to what many people believe, not all whole grains are rich in fiber. Make sure that the cereal you choose contains at least 4grams of fiber per serving.
  • Limit sugar: If a cereal box has the words “fruity”, “sweetened”, “sugary” or “frosted”, don’t even bother reading the ingredients. Such cereals contain nothing but empty calories because of all the flavorings and sweeteners. Watch out for ingredients like fructose, glucose, cane sugar, monosaccharide, honey, molasses, corn syrup and dextrose, as they all indicate high amounts of sugar in the cereal.
  • Steer clear of saturated fats: A good breakfast cereal should contain no more than 2 grams of saturated fat. Cereals that contain nuts are likely to be higher in fat as compared to plain cereal. If you see the word Trans-fat on the label, put the box down and keep searching!
  • Go easy on the sodium: Most cereal manufacturing companies have reduced their salt content significantly in the last few years. Therefore, it isn’t difficult to find a cereal that contains less than 360mg of sodium in a serving.
  • Check serving sizes: Even the healthiest cereal can lose its nutritional value, if you are required to consume large quantities just to get your daily intake of nutrients. Also, if a serving size is quite small and you are going to end up eating more than one serving, you need to calculate the numbers on the nutritional facts table accordingly.

While shopping for breakfast cereals, try to choose brands that are endorsed by well-known and recognized health institutions, such as the American Heart Association (AHA). These endorsements are an indication that the brand of cereal meets a certain standard of nutrition or quality.

Just choosing the right breakfast cereal isn’t always enough; you need to make sure that the breakfast you fix is healthy too! Increase the nutritional value of your breakfast by –

  • Adding a small handful of fresh berries or other toppings like bananas, peaches, plums, apricots, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds
  • Replacing whole milk with plain yogurt  or skim milk
  • Using organic honey, instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Sprinkling a little vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg to enhance the flavor

The tips mentioned above are just the basic guidelines for choosing a healthy breakfast cereal; you can always consult a dietician for guidance based on your dietary requirements.