A bowl of cereal in the morning with a candy-colored color is what makes us feel more nostalgic about our childhood. It's fine to enjoy childhood favorites like Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops every now and again, but those cereals are often high in sugar and other refined carbs. To make smarter breakfast choices and save yourself from a sugar crash later in the day, consider choosing the best healthy cereals available.
There are many whole grain, crunchy cereal options that you can enjoy every day, without having to eat too much sugar. The Prevention Testing Kitchen team pulled out some spoons to explore the best healthy options available. You can give any of these favorite brands a try, or go to the supermarket and pay close attention to ingredient lists and nutrition labels. These are the things you should be looking for and what to avoid.
How to shop healthy cereal
Naturally, the first place you should look on the nutrition label is the carbs category, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N.,, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table. She says that many people believe carbs should be avoided because they are slammed in popular diets. "But, it is important to consider portion size and the typeof carb.
Search for 100% whole grain . Complex carbs provide more energy than refined carbs, and are vital for a healthy diet. Whole grains are the best carbohydrate choice for cereal. They should be at the top of the ingredient list. You should look for words such as 100 percent whole wheat, wheat Bran, or another variety, like rye. Taub-Dix states that these grains "help us feel full while providing lots minerals and vitamins like B vitamins."
There is no need to eat a lot of fat in your cereal. This macronutrient can be found from other sources throughout the day. Taub-Dix recommends adding nuts to your bowl to make it more filling. These nuts add healthy fats and a little more crunch.
Try to get five grams of fiber in each serving . Fiber is another important ingredient to look for. Taub-Dix states that fiber is an important ingredient in cereals. We don't get enough of it as it is, and whole-grain cereals are a great way for us to get it in our mornings. You should choose brands that have at least five grams of fiber per serving. This will help lower your risk of developing diseases, stabilize blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber (from whole grains, vegetables, and wheat bran) is the fiber that keeps you moving.
Kristen Smith, R.D. is an Atlanta-based dietitian and founder of 360 Degree Family Nutrition. She is also the spokesperson for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Choose brands that have five grams or less sugar per serving. Taub-Dix says, "It's important to understand that if there is a lot added sugar, there will also a high carbohydrate count." The sugar number should be close to the carb number printed on the nutrition label. This will indicate how sweet the product is and how few grains it contains. Keep sugar in check by choosing brands that have five grams or less sugar per serving.
Make sure you have enough protein. Smith recommends eating three to five grams of the protein-building macronutrient.
This list contains the top healthy cereals for a hearty bowl.