Not All Cereals Are Created Equal

Not all cereals are created equal. While advertisers burn through money to suggest the highly nutritional benefits of the many vitamin-fortified cereals out there; the truth of this claim may actually be drowning in the colorful milk left over after consuming those ever popular bowls of breakfast. While claims of nutrition meeting the great taste of these “all encompassing” meals-in-a-box, there is less focus on the unhealthy ingredients and the unbalanced nutritional ratios.

If your intent is to truly find a cereal which provides a well balanced meal like it claims, then you must swap your morning newspaper for box labels. Reading a label is the only way to clearly surmise whether you are purchasing simply a tasty treat, or something actually worth eating. The first ingredients on a label are the major ingredients. Refined grain is not the same as whole grain. Whole grain should be the first ingredient listed. Enriched flour isn’t nearly as nutritional as whole wheat. High fiber and low sugar is a great start towards eliminating other unhealthy cereals. Fiber is found in the whole grain cereals which also offer a handful of natural nutrients, besides offering a filling meal. The higher sugar is listed on the ingredient label, the more has been packed into the box. Cereals with dried fruits will of course have a higher level of sugar, but this is a natural sugar, indicated on the nutritional facts (in percentage and actual quantity), and are not bad for you. On the other hand, high fructose corn syrup is a low cost version of sweetener and is definitely a choice to steer clear of. High fructose corn syrup is much worse than its natural alternative and is just plain bad for you. Other unhealthy ingredients to stay away from include preservatives and anything that says “partially hydrogenated.” Partially hydrogenated oils are directly associated with trans fats that are completely bad for the body.

Other key factors when comparing cereals are the near celebrity-level fortifying vitamins. Every cereal comes bearing the claim of being overly equipped with the vital servings of vitamins we all need. It’s stated in the commercials and written visibly on the front of every box. In fact, one of the most embedded ideals we have all grown up on is that by enjoying a great bowl of cereal, we are gifting ourselves with a highly needed serving of many vitamins and minerals. In reality though, some of the more sugary, less nutritional cereals are actually filled with artificial vitamins. Examining the serving amounts of vitamins should be in direct correlation with making sure the first ingredients list natural, healthy items (such as the whole grains).

Of course, the healthier the cereal, the less palatably pleasing it can be. Lower amounts of added sugar in a healthy cereal are hard to compare against the frosted cereals with marshmallows, however; everything is an acquired taste. Plus, health comes first. When considering this, here are some helpful guidelines: fiber should be at least 10%, sugar should be less than 26% and fat should lie under 9%. Be sure to watch the levels of sodium as well, all the while making sure that vitamins are in abundance. Considering the evidence on the label, we are all empowered to read behind the advertisements and measure line by line. Cereal can be a good choice for breakfast. When remembering that all cereals are not created equal, it is just important to seek out the right one.