Eat Smart

Crazy About Cereal

by Lindsay Barton, blogger

(Courtesy of

Starting your day off with a bowl of cereal is an easy way to get a serving of whole grain. All cereals are different, but some are bursting with sugar and refined white flour. More than half of the calorie content of some cereals comes directly from sugar! Some of our favorite cereals are imposters and don’t provide the nutrients listed on the box.

When choosing healthy cereals, be sure to check the ingredients list.  Whole wheat, grain or corn must be the first ingredient. Fiber is also another important nutrient to look for. Fiber has been shown to protect against heart disease and prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes. Cereals with at least three grams of fiber per serving are a good way to make sure you are meeting the daily requirement.

Regardless if a cereal consists of mostly whole grain, high sugar content does not make it healthy. Added sugars from ingredients like corn syrup or evaporated cane syrup provide most of the sugar in breakfast cereals, but cereals can contain natural sugars from dried fruits. If one of the ingredients is partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), leave the box on the shelf. This enemy is an artery-clogger that can increase your risk for chronic diseases. Also, beware of high-fructose corn syrup, which only adds to the sugar content and destroys the nutritive value of the cereal.

When shopping for breakfast cereal, stay away from refined grains, partially hydrogenated oils and added sugar. Look for cereals that are high in fiber and sweeten your bowl with fresh fruit. The next time you’re in the grocery store, put down the box of Apple Jacks and switch to Frosted Mini-Wheats or Kashi GoLean Crunch instead.