Choosing the best healthy cereals can be a pretty daunting task with the abundance of brands to choose form these days. What you should be shopping for is something that is full of nutrition, low in calories and high in fiber. Breakfast is, as the cliche goes, the most important meal of the day so you want to make sure you are giving your body the energy boost it needs to start the day right and keep you energized until lunch.
How to Choose a Healthiest Cereals
Below are just a few essential tips to keep in mind when choosing healthiest cereals.
1. Whole Grains
A breakfast full of whole grains in the morning is definitely a great way to start the day. But are cereals rich with whole grains the ones that the boxes from the outside say they are? According to experts, these claims can be very misleading.
The best way to ensure that you are getting what you're paying for is by actually looking at the list of ingredients. The first ingredient should be whole grain. If you find rice flour or refined grain, then both of those aren't good for you.
Below are some of the things you should lookout for:
- 100% whole grain.
- When "whole" isn't before grain, then you can mostly assume that the grain is refined (which isn't healthy).
- Alternatively, when the front of the package says "This cereal is made with whole grain," it could be that they did add whole grain, but while grain may not necessarily be the main ingredient. Before buying any cereal, make sure you look at the back nutrition facts. They list the ingredients in order of quantity. If the first or even second ingredient is "refined" then that cereal isn't the healthiest option at all.
- Any claim the manufacturer makes about the number of grams of whole grain need to be checked. The portion size could be a lot more than how many grams of whole grain are in the box. If the serving size is close to the number of grains, then the cereal is almost completely whole grain.
- Many cereals are low in whole grains, because they're higher with other types of nutrients like bran, fruits, nuts or soy. Check the first two ingredients - these are the main ingredients - to make sure you're getting what you think you think you are.
More and more manufacturers are making health, low-sugar cereal options but the trick is finding these in the midst of all the high-sugar, tempting ones. A lot of cereals may even seem healthy if you read the front of the box, but the opposite could be true! It's become more difficult for consumers to find the healthy cereals after companies go out of their way to make all these great health claims on the front of the box, but what people need to pay attention to now is the fine print. You should completely ignore any claims made on the front of the box, and concentrate on the nutrition section on the side/back. If the manufacturer claims there's only 10g of sugar, and each serving size is 30g, then that means one portion is 1/3 sugar!
That same cereal may claim to be high in fiber, and that may be true, but it doesn't even matter when almost 30% of what you're eating is sugar. No quantity of fiber will make the sugar go away.
Now, natural sugars are a different thing. So if you're eating a healthy cereal with fruits, it is normal that there will be more sugar in it. Basically, sugar from real fruit is the healthy kind and it's perfectly ok.
Fiber is a great filler, but when you're shopping around for cereals, whole grains are better. That said, fiber is still healthy?aif it's the real, good kind. There are different types of fiber with different levels of health benefits. Fibers like oat/corn/soy fiber have no known health benefits. Companies will boast about having a high-fiber cereal, when in reality the fiber that is inside it has no proven benefits to you. To be on the safe side, look for cereals that have whole grains and low-sugar levels.
4. Certain Health Claims
The front of the box will often be cluttered with all kinds of claims, from 'helps you to lose weight' to 'contains a secret ingredient that will energize you for longer'. Exaggerated claims are all a marketing ploy to get you to choose one brand over the other and nothing more. Below are the top things you should be looking out for:
- Fruits. Fruits are great, there's no doubt about it. You know what isn't so great? Fake fruits. Whenever you see a cereal with fruits, check the ingredients at the back and make sure they're real and not food dyes and gelatin!
- Yogurt. Cereal coated in yogurt sounds healthy right? Because when we think of yogurt we think of how healthy it is. That's not the case here. Eating plain yogurt may be healthy but buying cereal coated in yogurt is basically like buying cereal coated in oil and sugar without any added health benefits.
- "Slimming" cereals. A lot of cereals say they're high in fiber, and are your secret to losing the weight you always wanted to drop. It goes without saying that people who eat more fiber and whole grains weigh less, but the cereal you eat won't cause weight loss, especially if it contains processed fiber.
- Saturated fat. It's always funny when cereals claim they're low in saturated fats and good for your heart. Any food low in saturated fats can claim they're "good for your heart" so this isn't really as unique an addition as they make it sound.
- Calorie count. When you check nutrition, check the serving size. Most cereals will have a low serving size of about one quarter of a cup. Will one cup suffice? Most people finish a whole bowl and then fill another thinking cereal is a healthy and nutritious meal with low-calories. A quarter of a cup is low in calories, two or more cups and the calories pile on so make sure you watch how much you eat. It's not water!
Recommended 10 Healthiest Cereals
The table below shows the ten highest-scoring cereals on the list based on total amount of calories and ingredients:
|Brand Names||Nutrition Score||Serving Size||Sugar (g)||Fiber (g)||Sodium (per 100g)||Calories (kcal)|
|Post: Shredded Wheat- Original||82||47g||0g||6g||0mg||160|
|Barbara's Shredded Wheat||82||47g||0g||5g||0mg||140|
|Post. Shredded Wheat. spoon size Original||82||49g||0g||6g||0mg||170|
|Kellogg. Mini-Wheats. Unfrosted bite size||82||55g||0g||8g||0mg||190|
|Post. Shredded Wheat. spoon size Wheat 'n Bran||82||59g||0g||9g||0mg||200|
|Barbara's Bakery. Hole 'n Oats. Fruit Juice Sweetened||78||30g||1g||3g||80mg||120|
|General Mills. Fiber One. Original (bran)||78||30g||0g||14g||105mg||60|
|Kashi. Kashi GoLean. Original||78||52g||6g||10g||85mg||140|
|Kashi. Kashi (Shredded Wheat Type). Island Vanilla||76||55g||9g||6g||5mg||190|