If you walk down the cereal isle,
it is overwhelming with how many options to pick from! How to decipher? A good rule of thumb is to not be
fooled by advertising. ALWAYS read
and compare food labels to really understand which choice is the healthier
option for you. Example, most of
us would think of Raisin Bran as a healthier cereal. However if you glance at the food label, it’s loaded in
sugar, with 19 g per cup. So, be a
smart shopper and take a few extra seconds to examine the label. Four key things to look at are
Calories, Sugar, Fiber, and Vitamins and Minerals.
- Calories: Of course calories are always
important. You want to look at
calories PER SERVING. Many of us
do not eat the standard ¾ cup serving, so look for a cereal that will not ruin
- Sugar: Try and aim for 8 g or less per
serving. Many companies are
voluntarily reducing sugar levels.
If 8 g is hard to fine, at least try and stay in the single digits.
- Fiber: A good cereal has at least 2.5 g fiber
per serving but try to aim for 4 g or more. Many companies are advertising that their cereals are made
with whole grain. A basic rule is
the more whole grain, the more fiber.
The more fiber, the longer the cereal will fill you up.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Try to aim for cereals with majority of
vitamins and minerals at 25% or above.
You can find these numbers under %DV.
I realize it may be hard to find a variety of cereals that
meet all this criteria. Your goal
is to find a cereal that satisfies your taste buds while meeting majority of
Here are just a few examples of common cereals that meet all
criteria listed above:
✔ Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat:
- ¾ cup = 120 calories, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 25%-100%
of Vitamin A, C, E, B6, B12, and Folic Acid
✔ Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart
Strawberry Oat Bites:
- 30 biscuits = 200 calories, 6 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 25%-100%
of Vitamin A, D, E, B6, B12, Iron, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folic Acid,
Pantothenate, and Zinc.
✔ Post Bran Flakes for Digestive Health:
cup = 100 calories, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 25-50% of Vitamin D, B6, B12, Iron,
Thiamin, Riboflavin Niacin, Folic Acid, and Phosphorus.
✔ Fiber One Honey Clusters:
cup = 160 calories, 13 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 25-35% of Vitamin B6, B12, Calcium,
Iron, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folic Acid, ,and Zinc.
Here are a few advertising claims to watch out for:
- “Cholesterol Free” – of course it
is, only animal products contain cholesterol
- “Reduced Sugar” – do not assume it
is low in sugar, it is reduced from its previous amount but doesn’t mean
- “Hydrogenated Oil” – look for
products that do not contain hydrogenated oil
- “Real Fruit” – red the label
carefully, some actually contain things like dyed and flavored fruit
pieces or corn syrup and fruit flavoring.
Estelle L. Benoit, RD, LDN