Choosing a healthy breakfast cereals could really be the beginning of healthy food choices for each day. It can be so confusing especially when manufacturers use the word ‘nourishing’, ‘low in sugar’, ‘good for the heart’ and the list go on. These claims can easily mislead you and sway you away from the real content of the cereals. So don’t just assume a particular breakfast cereal is healthy because of the claims, take a pause and look out for the following;
1. Go for the word ‘whole grain’
Most refined grains have been stripped off dietary fiber, Iron, B-vitamins and other trace nutrients unlike whole grains. When shopping, check for brown rice, rolled oat, whole wheat e.t.c Although most refined grains are enriched, a process that adds back iron and a few B-vitamins, they are usually low in dietary fiber.
2. Check the overall calorie per portion or per 100g
If you are struggling to lose weight, this information is very important. You can eat up 700kcal of cereals without even having a feeling of fullness! Checking the calorie per 100g will make you aware of how much of the cereal you ought to be taking to meet your calorie intake target. Choose low calorie cereals of less than 300kcal per 100g. Checking for portion or serving size may also help. If a portion size is half cup (1 cup is equivalent to 240ml cup), target 200kcal or less per portion/serving size.
3. Look out for the dietary fiber content
Most whole grains cereals have varying amount of dietary fiber, Go for the option with the highest dietary fiber. Have in mind that an average adult needs between 25-35g of dietary fiber per day and meeting that goal starts with your choice of daily cereals! About 6-15g of dietary fiber per 100g cereals is good!
4. Spot the total sugar content
You can put your sugar intake in check by checking labels of breakfast cereals for total sugar content. High sugar intake especially through refined carbs has been linked obesity and certain chronic diseases. It is recommended that adult should not exceed 10% of your total calorie intake. The sugar intake should not exceed 37.5g (150kcal) for men and 25g for women (100kcal). Aim for not more than 10g per 100g when shopping for cereals.
5. Check the fat content
Not all breakfast cereals contain fat, but certain cereals with granola usually come with high fat content. If your health goals include cutting down on fat, aim for less than 5g of fat per 100g
6. Look out for the sodium content
While vitamins and minerals are important, it can be supplemented by adding natural fruits. Sodium content however should not be overlooked. Aim for less than 400mg sodium per 100g or 200mg per serving or portion size. High sodium intake has been linked to Hypertension and stroke especially in obese individuals.
Your choice of breakfast cereals plays a vital role in living healthy. Go for healthy options such as ones containing low sugar, low sodium and high dietary fiber.