Cereal can be a good choice for a healthy breakfast- but some cereals are definitely much better for you than others. Many cereals contain large amounts of refined flours, and often large amounts of sugar can be disguised by fancy names and clever marketing buzz-words. So start the day out right and choose a cereal that gives you a big nutritional boost and keeps you feeling full and satisfied throughout the morning.
Hereís what to look for in your breakfast cereal:
Studies have consistantly shown that a diet rich in whole grains promotes greater health, keeping you full as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. Whole grains are full of fibre, vitamins minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats, which help to regulate your blood sugar and keep you feeling energised. Research suggests that eating whole grains at breakfast can greatly help your weight loss efforts, and improve your concentration and productivity throughout the morning. So always choose a cereal with whole grains rather than refined flours- after just a few days of making this one simple switch, youíll notice a real difference to how your body feels.
Low in sugar
Always check the nutrition label to see how much sugar is really in your cereal. Some manufacturers will substitute white sugar for other sweeteners like brown rice syrup or raw cane syrup- which might seem like slightly better choices, but they are still sugar, so keep that in mind. As a general guide, look for cereal that has less than 7 grams of sugar per serving. Many still contain more than 10 grams- which is the equivalent of 2 and a half teaspoons! It goes without saying, but donít add sugar either. If you really need extra sweetness, add some natural honey or some diced fruit.
Low in sodium
You might not even think about the sodium content of your cereal- it doesnít taste salty, after all. Still, many cereal brands do contain a lot of sodium, so itís important to check the label. If it has more than 200 milligrams per serving, choose something else.
High in protein
Protein helps to slow down digestion, so you feel full for longer. Whole grain cereal will generally have at least 1-3 grams of protein, but you can add a little more by sprinkling in some nuts or seeds. Chia seeds or LSA mix (linseed, sunflower and almond meal) are great choices.
High in fibre
Look for cereals that have at least 5 grams of fibre per serving. If you can get a good serve of fibre in early on, youíll be well on track to reaching the recommended 25-30 grams per day. It will also help you to feel full all throughout the morning, so youíll be less likely to snack on unhealthy things and overeat at lunch. If your favourite cereal meets all other healthy criteria but doesnít have much fibre, you can add flax seed, oat bran or wheat bran to help give it a bit of a boost.
Add fruit, nuts, and low-fat dairy
Make your cereal a complete breakfast by adding healthy extras like fruit and nuts, and making sure to use low-fat milk or yogurt, which can help give your cereal a nutritional boost. Fresh fruit will give you fibre and vitamins (as well as giving you a sweet flavour burst), while nuts and seeds can help add protein and fibre. Choose milk (or a non-dairy option like almond or soy milk) that is fortified with vitamin D, or a low-sugar yogurt. Combined with your whole grain cereal, youíll be feeling full and satisfied and ready to face the day!
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