Choosing the Right Breakfast Cereal

The cereal aisle in a supermarket can be as intimidating as walking into a room of complete strangers. There are literally hundreds of varieties of cereal on the market in the United States, and the number continues to increase. Not to mention that food companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars marketing cereal towards consumers, specifically children. These marketing tactics often make it difficult for the average consumer to determine which brands are beneficial and which ones they should pass on. Think of this as your cereal code book. Following the criteria below will help you make better choices when it comes to your cereal bowl.

Sugar Content
One serving of cereal should contain less than 10 grams of sugar.  Arrowhead Mills Organic Spelt Flakes Cereal is great pick because it's combines natural fruit juice sweeteners with natural whole grains and contains only 3g of sugar - providing just the right amount of sweetness.

Whole Grain
Plenty of food companies will claim that their cereal provides a serving of whole grain but unless it's one of the first ingredients, it's not the case. Single grain cereals like shredded wheat, puffed wheat or rolled oats are safe bets if you're not sure. If the cereal contains milled corn, corn meal, or rice than you're getting a mixture of whole and refined grains. My pick us Barbara's Shredded Wheat because the whole wheat berries are steamed, shredded, and lightly baked which creates a naturally sweet and high fiber breakfast without any sugar or sodium.

Fiber
Cereal gets a bad wrap due to it's high carbohydrate content but as long as a portion of those carbs are coming from fiber, you're in the clear. Most good-for-you cereals will contain anywhere from 7 to 12 grams of protein per serving. I love to take a 1/2 cup of Nature's Path Smart Bran cereal and mix it into a flavored Greek yogurt. A half cup contains over 20% of your daily requirement. I featured Nature’s Path in my May Bestowed box, because they are a socially responsible company, and their products are free of preservatives, chemicals and additives. Remember, the fiber in a cereal is what's going to keep you full until your next meal.

Protein
This is the missing component it most of the leading cereal brands. Some of the most popular cereals claim to contain whole grain and be great for your health but only contain a measly 1 to 2 grams of protein. Besides fiber, protein ensures that your breakfast choice will go a long way in satiating you through the morning. Brands such as Kashi Go Lean contain a whopping 9 grams of protein. That’s more than you’ll find in one large egg! Aim for brands that have at least 3 grams per serving.

When looking at nutrition labels keep in mind that all cereal companies use different serving sizes. An ideal amount of cereal is about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. It's tempting to fill the bowl to the brim but it's simply too much! Implement these criteria into your cereal purchasing decision and you'll feel satisfied with the suggested serving size.


Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN

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3 Comments

basia rubin
basia rubin

February 08, 2013

where can u get that cereal?

Bestowed
Bestowed

February 07, 2013

Hi Sydney! Thanks for writing in. We are big fans of Kind’s Healthy Grains line http://www.bestowed.com/blogs/chatter/6564869-kind-healthy-grains-oats-honey-clusters. 1/3 cup of the peanut butter flavor provides 5 grams
Protein! You might also want to check out our top GF picks here http://www.bestowed.com/blogs/chatter/tagged/gluten-free

Sydney
Sydney

February 07, 2013

I have had to be gluten free for over 40 years. Can you suggest a protein filled cereal without gluton?

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