You probably already know the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, but chances are you have limited time for food preparation in the morning. It’s tempting to grab a bowl of cereal and gulp it down as you head out the door. Of course, this isn’t an ideal scenario from a health perspective, but, fortunately, if chosen correctly a bowl of commercial cereal doesn’t have to be a health disaster. Instead of reaching for the cereal with the prettiest box and the most appealing description, spend some time and choose one that has real nutritional value. Here’s how to choose the healthiest cereal to start your morning right.
Choose the healthiest cereal: Watch the sugar
Some commercial cereals are no better than better than a candy bar when it comes to sugar content. Some will give the illusion of being healthy by adding honey or molasses instead of sugar. Don’t be fooled by this. You don’t need a shot of sugar in any form so early in the morning. After a bowl of sugar saturated cereal, you’ll be craving more carbs before eleven a.m. Read the labels carefully and look for a cereal that has no more than six grams of sugar. The fewer, the better. You can always add your own low calorie sweetener at home if it’s not sweet enough. Be sure to avoid commercial cereals that list high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
Choose the healthiest cereal: Go heavy on the fiber and whole grains
Look for a cereal that’s high in fiber. Fiber not only helps to moderate blood sugar levels, but it also slows down digestion so you feel full longer. Not to mention the healthy effect it has on your bowels. Ideally, you would choose a cereal such as Fiber One with fourteen grams of fiber, but many people don’t like the taste. Keep in mind that you can make it taste better by adding fresh fruit, cinnamon, and nuts. Try to find a cereal with at least five grams of fiber. You can also mix a high fiber cereal with another cereal you enjoy more to get the benefits of the additional fiber. Always look for a cereal that lists whole grain as the first ingredient.
Choose the healthiest cereal: Watch the sodium
This is one additive most people forget to check when they’re reading the labels on cereal boxes. Some commercial cereals go heavy on the salt to enhance the flavor. Even otherwise healthy commercial cereals sometimes fall down in the sodium department. Be sure to read labels carefully and always check the sodium content.
Choose the healthiest cereal: Watch the calories
In general very dense, heavy cereals and cereals with lots of added sugar will be higher in calories. As a generalization, it’s not difficult to find a cereal with a reasonable calorie content if you watch the sugar. You can further limit the calories by using skim milk instead of whole milk.
Choose the healthiest cereal: Don’t forget about hot cereal
Some of the healthiest breakfast cereals are meant to be served hot. Keep in mind that unsweetened oatmeal or other hot, whole grain cereal can be jazzed up with fruits, nuts, and spices. You can even stir in a little sugar free jelly, pureed pumpkin, or applesauce to make it taste better. Why not turn your oatmeal into chocolate breakfast cereal by adding a little unsweetened cocoa powder? Hot, whole grain cereal can be not only healthy but tasty as well.
Choose your breakfast cereal wisely. After all, it’s your first and most important meal of the day.