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How Healthy Is Cereal?

Dorathy Gass

It’s a brand-new year and atop many people’s new year’s resolution lists is to eat healthier and lose weight. No better way to get cracking on this than the first meal of the day. Breakfast is an important element of nutritious eating, and a lot of people tend to turn to cereal when they wake up and start the day.

Why? Well, cereal is fast, tasty, and easy to organize. But is it healthy? It truly depends on the type of cereal you reach for and how your serve it.

CNN recently advised that the ready-to-eat cereals that are low in sugar, served with nutritious fruit, and are produced from whole grains are most likely the best option if you are looking to start the day on a healthy note. Depending on the brand of cereal that your reach for, the protein provided in a serving can equal the amount of an egg, and even provide the fiber you need (or get) from oatmeal. A well-balanced cereal can even contain the amount calcium that you get from yogurt, if you pour in some low-fat milk, that is. Cereals can also contain much-needed minerals and vitamins, like iron and vitamin B; nutrients that can help you tackle your busy day.

But how do you know which cereal is the right one to reach for to maintain the health goals you have set for 2017? First off, you want to avoid the sugary cereals, that are sometimes marketed towards children, that also lack adequate fiber. Anything with marshmallows or frosty goodness should not even be looked at. These will fill you up quick and have you feeling dragged out before lunch hits. What you do want to purchase are those cereals that contain a minimum of three grams of fiber (the more the better, so aim for four to five, but be satisfied with three if you find one that fits your tastes). You also want a cereal with less than eight grams of sugar. Some suggested cereals that fit these requirements includes Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins and Kashi’s Seven Whole Grain Flakes.

A fine example of a cereal to potentially avoid is Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows. This has zero grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and one gram of protein. Meanwhile Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has seven grams of fiber, five grams of protein, and 18 grams of sugar (but this high number could reflect the raisins and the natural sugar they bring).

It’s also important to note portion control, especially if you are counting calories in your new health efforts. A cup may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. Ensure you measure out your cereal (and milk) as you count along those calories.

Alas, the best tip anyone can give when it comes to eating healthy is doing everything in moderation; cereal or not. If you are finding it hard to say no to those sugary cereals, or getting your kids on board to your new way of life is becoming more than a chore, perhaps a sprinkle or two that sugary treat into your healthy cereal could help. That way, you are still taking the bad, with a whole lot of good.

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