Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who likes Cereal?

I do! Cereal can be a perfect way to start your day. I am a huge advocate of breakfast. It not only gets you "jump started" for the day, but if also provides you with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, most breakfast eaters tend to have better nutrient intakes and tend to consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber over the course of their day. This applies to men women and children. Beware though, all cereals are not created equal....and i'm not talking about the obvious fruit loops versus cheerios. I want to make you aware of the cereals that "pretend" to be healthy. Their great marketing ads are deceiving you.

Let's first discuss why cereal is a good breakfast choice. For one, it is convenient! No hassle, no mess, no cooking required. Just grab a bowl and pour in the milk. Second, it is typically lower in calories than almost any other common breakfast option. Third, as mentioned above, cereal provides us with key essential nutrients. Many cereals are fortified with B vitamins, calcium and vitamin D. Just to make you aware of the difference in calories, lets compare a biscuit with bacon, egg and cheese to a bowl of cereal with skim milk. The average fast food restaurant sandwich biscuit contains around 420 calories, 23 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. A bowl of cereal and skim milk contains 160 calories, 1-2 grams of fat and 3-5 grams of fiber. The calorie and fat comparison is HUGE. And we wonder why so many of our children are obese! The American Dietetic Association found that frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights overall-including kids.

Recent media coverage regarding breakfast cereal has led many people to be confused. The Today show mentioned that "11 of the most popular cereals consumed by Americans contained 40% sugar by weight....similar to that of a glazed donut". It is true that many cereals have a high sugar content which is why we have to be selective. Aim for a cereal with 9 or less grams of sugar per serving. General Mills in particular has led several nutrition initiatives to reduce sugar content of many of is beloved brands. In fact, they have made a public commitment to reduce grams of sugar into the single digits. Here is a list of several great choice cereals.

Rice Chex, Wheaties, Fiber One, Cherios, Honey Kix

Beware that seemingly healthy Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Franken Berry Cereal have over 12 grams more of sugar than regular Cheerios.

In conclusion, cereal is a great option for breakfast. Just be sure to look at the nutrition label for the sugar content and portion size.

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