If there is one aisle at the supermarket that seems to cause the most confusion, it’s probably the cereal one. With multiple health claims, weight loss promises, and scientific jargon, choosing the right cereal can seem like a tedious process. DK’s got you covered with this quick guide to selecting what matters.
Instead of putting percentage of whole grains most manufactures list grain amounts in grams, which takes a bit more decoding. The ingredient list is the first place you should look; 100% whole wheat, whole grain or bran should be the first ingredient. If it’s anything else, put it back.
First, check out serving size. While 1 cup is the standard portion of cereal, some servings vary from ¼ to 1 ¼ cups. Sneaky, huh? I recommend no more than 250 calories per cup, especially since most people eat more than that. Don’t forget about your choice of milk which adds an additional 30-50 calories per ½ cup. My favorite is unsweetened almond milk.
To get the “best of both worlds”, you want a cereal that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps bind and reduce cholesterol, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to the digestive tract. The evidence that fiber helps prevent heart disease and diabetes comes when people eat fiber found in whole grains and bran. Most cereals with added fiber get it from “isolated fibers” like oat, corn, or inulin. The jury is still out on whether these fibers offer the same benefit as intact fibers. Unfortunately, you can’t tell on the label which fibers occur naturally and which ones have been added. Most of your >6g fiber per serving (unless it’s mostly bran) rely on these added fibers. Whatever you choose, look for at least 3g of fiber per serving, preferably from dried fruit, whole grains, and bran.
Just like fiber, it can be hard to determine between naturally occurring sugar in fruit and sugar which has been added like brown rice syrup, brown sugar, honey, molasses, etc. Look at the ingredient list to determine sugar amounts and frequency. If it’s listed in the first 3 ingredients, it’s probably high in sugar. Attune Foods brand Uncle Same cereal has less than 1g of sugar per serving; 100% all-bran, bran flakes do as well. You can sweeten them yourself with sugar or fruit. Remember, it’s cereal, not a donut or pastry.
My favorite cereals: 100% bran flakes, Kellogg’s All Bran, Kashi Go Lean, Kashi Heart to Heart, Trader Joes O’s, Post Grape Nut Flakes.
Which cereal is your favorite?