How to choose the best cold breakfast cereals

Breakfast cereals are a quick and easy way to start your day. But not all cereals have the same health benefits. Here are a few tips on choosing the best cereals the next time you are shopping for cereal.

1. Choose whole grains

Choose cereals where the first ingredient is a whole grain. Look for the word “whole” in front of the grain. For example, “whole grain whole wheat flour” and “whole oats”.

Why are whole grains important?

Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. They can also help to maintain a healthy weight.

2. Look for high fibre

Not all whole grains are high in fibre. Men need 38 grams of fibre a day, and women need 25 grams each day. Choose a high fibre cereal with at least 4 grams of fibre in every serving. Check the serving size as it may be a lot smaller than you think.

Why is fibre important?

Fibre helps keep our digestive system healthy, lowers blood cholesterol and control blood glucose (in people with diabetes), and can prevent some cancers. And because fibre keeps you feeling full, it can also help control your appetite and maintain your weight.

3. Go low on sugar 

Choose cereals with no added sugar whenever possible. Sweeten the cereal yourself.  Try fresh, frozen or dried fruit, vanilla or cinnamon for added sweetness and flavour. 

If your cereal is sweetened, compare nutrition labels and choose cereals with less sugar. 

4. Keep fat low 

Look for cereals with less than 3 grams of fat or no added fat per serving. Granola-type cereals that have nuts in them will usually have more fat than plain cereals.

5. Cut down on sodium 

Look for cereal with less than 360 mg of sodium per serving.

6. Watch the serving size

Check the Nutrition Facts table for what is considered one serving of that cereal. A dense bran cereal will likely have a smaller serving size than a light cereal like rice puffs. Use measuring cups or a scale to see how much you’re eating. If you’re going to eat more than one serving, double or triple the numbers you see on the Nutrition Facts table. Watch this video for help reading the label.

Cereal, five ways

Instead of just having plain cereal and milk at breakfast, try some of these ideas.

  • Top whole grain cereal with a generous amount of fresh or frozen berries.  Other great toppings are: banana, peach and plum slices, mango, papaya, lychee nuts, dried apricot, cranberries, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Make your own trail mix with whole grain, high fibre cereal, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
  • Use very high fibre cereal to make homemade muffins, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.
  • Top your cereal with yogurt, kefir or soy beverage instead of milk.
  • Heat up your cold cereal for warm comfort on a cold day.  Add cinnamon or vanilla for extra flavour.

You may also be interested in:

Choosing Whole Grains FAQs
How to choose the best sliced bread

Last Update – February 1, 2016

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