I decided to create a post about choosing a healthy cereal because it is something that seems to stump a lot of shoppers.. Cereal is a staple in many households. It can provide a great way to boost your nutrition and start your day with plenty of nutrients. Or it can do the opposite, adding lots of sugar and fat. There are so many cereal options to choose from. How can you narrow down your choices? Here’s my guide for shoppers:
I decided to create a post about choosing a healthy cereal because it is something that seems to stump a lot of shoppers. Since cereal is typically a daily staple, it can play a crucial role in boosting your diet with lots of nutrition to start your day or do just the opposite and add lots of unwanted fat and sugar. With all the thousands of cereals to choose from…how to possibly narrow it down? Here’s my shopper’s guide:
1. Don’t fall for gimmicks
A health claim on the box does not mean that you should believe it. You should research before you buy cereals with recent health claims. For instance, if the claim says “made with whole grains,” does that mean that whole grain falls somewhere amongst the masses of other ingredients OR is it the first ingredient? Ingredients are listed in order (highest amount to lowest amount), the closer whole grain is to the first ingredient, the more whole grains make up the bulk of the cereal. The same goes for SUGAR!
You should omit cereals containing less than 5g fiber. We all know how important fiber for our health prevention diet is. Getting 5 grams or more fiber per day will help you get to the 25-45 grams recommended daily. It will keep you fuller longer, which is another benefit. It is!
A good rule of thumb when it comes to sugar is looking for a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to sugars. Typically, sugars content should not exceed 25% of the total calories, per the U.S Government’s Dietary Reference Intake recommendations. So for instance, if a cereal contains 28 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of sugar, the carbohydrate to sugar ratio is 4:1 and an adequate amount per serving. If you want to calculate the percentage of calories from sugar in a cereal:
1. Multiply the grams of sugar per serving by 4 because there are 4 calories in each gram of sugar.
2. Divide this number (calories from sugar) by the total number of calories per serving.
3. Multiply this number by 100 to get the percentage of calories from sugar.
Some healthy cereals go a little bit over the “25% calories from sugar” guideline, especially if natural sugars come from ingredients like dried fruits. So if the percentage of calories from sugar is still at or below 30%, the first ingredient is a whole grain, there are 5 grams of fiber per serving, and the cereal tastes good, it may still be a good choice overall.
WHOLE GRAIN WHOLE GRAIN WHOLE GRAIN!! Make sure that “WHOLE” oat, wheat, grain, etc is listed as the first ingredient in your cereals! Breakfast is the perfect time of day to squeeze in a serving of whole grains! Make the most out of your breakfast cereal!
5. High Fructose Corn Syrup
This is an ingredient of controversy. I personally try to stay away from any and all forms of it. I encourage you to do some research and form your own opinion . Just try not to base your opinion on the Corn Refiners Association commercials. I do not keep products with it in my cupboards and any cereal that contains it does not go in my cart!
A small article about High Fructose Corn Syrup from the Mayo Clinic.
A few suggested cereals:
Quaker Oatmeal Squares :
Brandon LOVES these, as do I!! We buy in bulk when it is on sale! 19% sugars, 5 grams fiber, WHOLE oat flour is the first ingredient!
Quaker High Fiber Oatmeal :
17% sugar, tastes better than the lower sugar variety, has more fiber for satiety then the lower sugar OR weight control varieties.
Raisin Bran :
40% calories from sugar but most of the sugar is natural from the raisins
Most Kashi Brands: Heart to Heart, Shredded Wheat, GoLean Crunch
Plain Old Fashioned Oats:
Dressed up with ingredients at home!! I love Oatmeal for Breakfast!
Most of the other varieties are higher in sugar
Kashi GoodFriends Cinna-Raisin:
30% calories from sugars but again, contains raisins and 8 grams of fiber per serving
Don’t see your favorite cereal? Let me know what it is and I would be happy to help you evaluate if you’re making a good selection!!