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December 15, 2014

What to Look for in a Breakfast Cereal

breakfast cerealWe’ve said a number of times breakfast is the most important meal of the day. All of us are rushed at times in the morning and the easiest thing to devour quickly is a bowl of cereal. What should you look for in a breakfast cereal, though? And, what can you do to spruce a bowl of cereal with extra nutrients?

Rules for Breakfast Cereals

The big problem with breakfast cereal is many of them (the kind kids like) are saturated with sugars and are high glyemic causing a sugar surge and causing unhealthy elevations in insulin. So stay away from anything kids beg for.

Think 5/5/10. That’s the rule. No, not May 5, 2010, and no not Cinco de Mayo, either.  A healthy breakfast cereal should contain at least 5 grams of fiber and at least  5 grams of protein per serving while containing no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Also, only by 100% whole grain and make sure the cereal does not contain any hydrogenated oils or trans fats.

The “Breakfast of Champions”, Wheaties, doesn’t quite make the cut – falling short on protein and fiber content but delivering on the sugar aspect.

Below are some examples of healthy cereals. This is not meant to be an all inclusive list. You may find others that qualify as healthy cereals. What you buy is a matter of taste as well as cost.

  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal (steel cut oats – not instant variety kind)
  • Post Bran Flakes
  • Grape Nuts
  • Kashi cereals
  • Nature’s Path Organic Optimum
  • Health Valley Organic Fiber 7 Flakes
  • Kellog’s Complete Whole Wheat Bran Flakes, Complete Bran Oak Flakes, and All Bran brands
  • Special K Low Carb Lifestyle
  • Total Protein
  • Wheat Chex
  • Multi Bran Chex
  • Quaker Oats Squares
  • Quaker Oat Bran

To fine tune your breakfast cereal to meet your health needs you can doctor them up some. For extra brain power add blackberries or chocolate pieces. These foods contain brain protecting antioxidants. For better heart protection add some apple slices or almonds. If you plan on lifting weights right after breakfast add some pumpkin seeds to your cereal and eat with Greek yogurt rather than milk giving you that needed extra protein. And, if you’re trying to trim the belly add ground chia seeds or a green banana both which add fiber making you feel fuller longer.

But, just make sure you eat breakfast. Starting the day on an empty stomach and in a state of energy depletion is not healthy or wise.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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