Breakfast has long been called the most important meal of the day. It’s the first opportunity to fuel your body after an overnight without food, basically a fast. In addition, with the variety of options to eat, it’s an ideal chance to give your body its first dose of most, if not all, food groups, and the nutrients they provide.
Ready-to-eat cereal has been on American breakfast tables since the late 1800s. It’s shelf-stable, can be a good source of a variety of nutrients itself, but is also an ideal vessel to which milk and fruit can be added, thus boosting its nutrient-quotient. That’s not to say every type of cereal earns a spot in a healthy eating plan. Some cereals are notoriously high in added sugar, and/or low in nutrients.
Fortunately, with breakfast cereals taking up nearly an entire grocery store aisle, there are plenty of healthy options from which to choose. Look for those with at least four grams of fiber to get you started on your recommended 28 grams a day. Aim to limit added sugar to no more than about 6 grams. That’s the equivalent of a teaspoon and a half of sugar. Keep in mind — the recommendations are no more than six teaspoons a day for women and nine teaspoons a day for men.
Helpful hints: When shopping the cereal aisle, keep these tips in mind.
Serving size. The serving size of cereals can vary from 2/3 cup to 1 cup. Be sure to check the serving size of your favorite bowl-filler and do the math to determine how much different cereals contribute to your daily intake.
Mix it up. If you like sweet cereals, consider mixing one part sweet with two parts nutrient-packed to get the best of both worlds while limiting your added sugar.
Nutrient boosts. Top your cereal with fresh or dried fruit or nuts to add more fiber and protein. Both can help make your morning meal last by keeping you feeling fuller longer.
(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)