Healthy, Heart Warming Cereal
Looking for something quick, healthy and warm for breakfast on chilly mornings? Cereal manufacturers now provide you with quick, easy to prepare cereals that also pack a nutrition punch!
Cereals are sweetened -- or not, fortified or not, flavored with added fruit or not and packed for single servings or not. The best news of all: most hot cereals are good for you.
Separate the Good from the Bad
Look for cereals with no added sugars. Instead, toss in some fruit in its natural state for sweetness and nutrition. Suggested fruits: Blueberries, bananas, raisins, strawberries, raspberries or even apples if you like it that way! Be wary of brands that state "fruit added" as most will add fruit powder rather than the real thing.
To appropriately check the sugar content of a cereal, do not use the label because that amount includes naturally occurring sugars. Instead, check the ingredient list. Sugar, dextrose, maple sugar and/or cane sugar all fall into the sugar category -- avoid cereals that list these in their ingredients.
Okay, are you one who really dislikes a cereal with no sugar and are groaning right now? If so, take heart. Just watch for cereals with limited sugars, or a lightly sweetened cereal. Due to variations in serving sizes we will use a percentage - try to watch for less than 30 percent of the calories from sugar.
Health Valley is a good example of a lightly sweetened cereal. They have a line of cereal cups containing roughly half as much sugar as Quaker instant cereals. "Banana Gone Nuts" has real chunks of both and the entire line has added soy protein, which gives your cup of cereal as much protein as a glass of milk. They also add the U.S. recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin E and a half-day supply of selenium. For variety, try the "Amazing Apple" or the "Terrific 10 Grain". One flavor did have too much sugar; that was the "Maple Madness".
Check the fiber content in your cereal. Any whole grain is a good grain but extra fiber aids in the prevention of constipation and may help lower the risk of heart disease either by lowering cholesterol (if the fiber comes from oats) or by some other means (if it comes from whole-wheat).
Whole grains have more fiber than refined grains; some more than others. Oat bran is at the high end of fiber with six or seven grams per serving. Whole wheat and multigrain mixtures are in the middle with five grams. Oatmeal has four grams and brown rice, two or three. Note, these numbers only apply to unsweetened cereals. A packet of Quaker Instant Oatmeal typically has only three grams of fiber, because sugar (and perhaps some fruit) replaces some of the oatmeal.