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Healthy, Heart Warming Cereal

Food Fitness. Nourish your body.

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.

Healthy Bowl of Cereal

Cereals are typically whole-grain, low in fat and a great source of fiber.

Separate the Good from the Bad

Healthy Bowl of Cereal with Fruit

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".

Box of Cereal 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.

Fruit and Cereal Fiber Keep Heart Healthy

A review of studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine found an association between eating fruit and cereal fibers and a reduced risk for heart problems. For every 10 grams of fiber consumed per day, the risk of heart attack among the study participants was 14 percent lower and the risk of dying from heart disease was 27 percent lower. Interestingly enough, fruit and cereal fibers had a more beneficial effect than vegetable fibers in this study. The researchers think it is because vegetables that are starchy or heavily processed have been shown to have a negative effect on the heart and may have countered the positive effects of the healthier ones. The American Dietetic Association recommends eating 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.

Super Summer Cereal Treat

Corn Cereal Milkshake: Steep 1-1/2 cups sweetened corn cereal (such as Cap 'n Crunch) in 1-1/2 cups hot milk for 30 minutes. Strain and freeze in an ice cube tray. Blend the frozen milk cubes with 1 pint vanilla ice cream and 1 cup cereal. Top with more cereal.

Cereal Lore

Cereal Lore

High-Energy Cereal

Adding more dietary fiber to your breakfast daily could boost your energy by making you more regular. A high-fiber diet is smart for many reasons. Not only does it give your energy level a lift, it can lower your risks of diabetes, heart disease and possibly cancer. In addition, it helps control your weight. Note:  It may take your system a few days to adjust to a higher fiber level, but stay with it. Go easy at first to avoid some stomach discomfort and bloating. If you do experience these symptoms to any degree, they should ease up during the second week and eventually disappear completely. Try the following quick fixes in your breakfast cereal.

  • If you like Rice Chex, which has 0 grams of fiber, try Multi-Bran Chex, which contains 8 grams of fiber.
  • If you like Product 19, which has 1 gram of fiber, try Raisin Bran, which has 8 grams of fiber.
  • If you like Fruit Loops, which has 1 gram of fiber, try 1/2 Fruit Loops and 1/2 All-Bran Extra Fiber for 7 grams of total fiber.
  • If you like Oatmeal, which has three grams of fiber, try Oatmeal plus 2-tablespoons of ground flaxseed for six grams of fiber. If just beginning to use flaxseed, start with less and build up gradually to 2-tablespoons.

Alpha-Bits Spell out Healthy

If you or your kids love Alpha-Bits cereal, you can quit worrying about the sugar! According to the company, for the first time in 50 years, Alpha-Bits has been reformulated -- without sugar. The new Alpha-Bits cereal with 0 grams of sugar per serving; the old Alpha-Bits had 13 grams per serving. And the cereal is now made with whole grains, upping its grams of fiber per serving to 3 grams from 1 gram.

Twice-a-Day Breakfast Diet

Researchers had 28 people eat cereal with 2/3 cup of fat free milk and a piece of fruit for two meals each day (breakfast and either lunch or dinner). The "breakfast club" also snacked on fruits and vegetables and ate a normal third meal. After two weeks on the twice-a-day cereal diet, the average weight loss was 4.2 pounds. Because cereal is also a great way to get fiber (critical for fighting disease), be sure to choose one that contains at least 7g of fiber per serving.

Did you know?

In 1941, Cheerios Cereal came into being.

Cereal may help anxiety. A study conducted in Wales showed that eating breakfast cereal regularily was associated with reduced stress and improved physical and mental health. People who ate cereal each day had lower levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that rises with stress. Next, researchers hope to find the reason why.

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