Breakfast is the most important meal of the day by eating a nutritious breakfast you better chances of reaching the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and you’re more likely to get all the nutrients you need. The best breakfast cereals are rich in fiber, something most of us don’t get enough of. Sitting down to a healthy, high fiber diet could be the key to maintaining or losing weight. Served hot or cold the label on breakfast cereals supplies nutritional information based on a serving size, usually one ounce. Various additives are added during processing. Sweeteners including sugar or corn syrup. There is no nutritional need for sugar and several varieties do not contain added sugar. These same cereals are lower in fiber. Some cereals are designed to appeal to children. Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, etc. provide about 13 grams of sugar per ounce and many contain more than 300 mg. of sodium per ounce. Cereals with the most sugar contain the least salt. Salt, flavorings, preservatives, vitamin or minerals are added when enriched. Nuts and raisins are other nutritious additions to cereals. The fiber in breakfast cereals is mainly wheat bran, which is essentially insoluble fiber. The body needs both kinds of fiber, soluble, and insoluble, provided in a balanced diet.
The five cereals I chose to review were Cheerios, Honey-Nut Cheerios, Total, Special K, and Oatmeal.
Cheerios are made form whole grain oats. They have no artificial colors or flavors and only one gram of sugar. They are low in fat and have no saturated fat or cholesterol. They are also an excellent source of folic acid and fiber. Cheerios is also the leading cereal that is clinically proven to lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy diet. Honey-Nut Cheerios is honey sweetened whole grain. They have only ten more calories than Cheerios and a lot more flavor. They are also low in fat and have no cholesterol. Out of these two cereals I would definitely go for the Honey-Nut.
Total is the only cereal that provides you with 100% of ten essential vitamins and minerals. One of these vitamins is Folic Acid. Folic acid reduces the risk for certain birth defects and may also reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Total is also a good source of calcium, providing you with 25% of the daily value. Less than half of all women get the recommended amount.
Special K is a cereal targeted to women wanting to get fit. It meets the American Heart Association food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people. Its calories are about the same as Cheerios and Total.
Hot breakfast cereal contains less calcium, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Oatmeal contains disease-fighting antioxidants. Your blood pressure may drop, and you may eat less the rest of the day. Made with whole unrefined grains. The more you eat the less vulnerable to diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Oats are loaded with high levels of protein, calcium magnesium potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamin E along with antioxidants. Oats also contain more soluble fiber than any other grain. This fiber dissolves to form fluid that slows things down going into the stomach for digestion. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol. This is of course not the instant oatmeal, but the prepared oats. Putting fruit on top, besides adding taste will add to your 5 a day fruits in the food pyramid.
Most mainstream cereals are made from refined grains. Whole grain selections are high in folate, which can help and protect the heart and prevent birth defects. Fiber recommendations are twenty-five to thirty grams per day. This helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease and cancer. Natural cereals use sweeteners like fructose and honey instead of white sugar. Most cereals are low in fat and some may contain saturated fats and hydrogenated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels. Natural cereals with small amounts of unsaturated fat from whole grain are your best bet. Some cereals contain a long list of artificial flavors, and colors, and preservatives as well as pesticides, herbicides, irradiated ingredients. Choose natural organic cereal instead. Artificial flavors are used to replace more expensive flavors and improve the taste of manufactured foods. The FDA does not require these flavoring agents to be listed on the food label because they are consumed in such a small quantity. Artificial colors pose a greater health risk. They have no nutritional value. They are used to make the food look more appetizing. In choosing a cereal another big factor is age and preference. Kids tend to like the cereals that are colorful or have a cartoon character on the box. Many of these cereals contain high amounts of sugar, artificial flavoring and coloring. Adults tend to like something that will be quick and taste good. There are so many cereals out there that one is perfect for you.
Choosing a cold cereal is complicated because there are so many brands from which to choose. Many have highly processed ingredients that decrease their nutritional value. A basic guide to picking a healthy cereal is to stick with whole grains; whole grains contain more natural fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined cereals. Look for ingredients such as rolled oats, whole wheat or whole grain flour. Avoid cereals with plain flour, milled flour or meal. Buy cereal that contains at least three to four grams of fiber per ounce. Choose low fat cereals, and avoid cereals with artificial colors and flavors.