Breakfast cereals- from "Experience Life"

5. High-Fiber Breakfast Cereals
Hype: Ads for adult cereals lead people to believe there is nothing more wholesome than starting the day with a heaping bowl of vitamin- and mineral-enriched flakes. Many fiber-rich cereals are emblazoned with health claims about cancer fighting, heart health and weight loss. But the truth may be a little harder to stomach.

Reality: Studies do show that a diet rich in whole grains and fiber can help thwart colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but it pays to be discerning. “In most whole-grain cereals, the grain is pulverized into a fine powder,” says La Puma. “And, once inside the body, it acts almost the same as a starch or sugar. The presence of ample fiber may help slow the release of all that sugar into your bloodstream and may also help you with regularity, but the cereal itself is unlikely to be a particularly nutritious day starter — even if it is fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that isolated nutrients, such as those added to many fortified cereals, don’t confer the same health benefits as eating whole foods.

In fact, one of the key problems with many high-fiber cereals is that they take a relatively unhealthy, conventional cereal product and then just add supplemental fiber and isolated nutrients to the mix. The product may still contain all kinds of other questionable ingredients and heavy doses of sugar.

Worse, relying on a cereal to fulfill daily fiber and nutritional requirements may discourage people from including more authentically nutritious whole foods (berries, nuts, seeds, proteins) in their breakfast regimens and may reduce their motivation to seek out vegetables, legumes and other fiber-rich foods throughout the day.

Better choice: Many dietitians prefer to see their clients eat breakfasts of yogurt with nuts and berries, eggs, steel-cut oatmeal, whole-food smoothies, or even leftovers, because these options are more naturally packed with nutrients as well as proteins, which help ward off hunger. If you enjoy having cereal for breakfast, however, just strive to have it a couple of times a week, rather than daily.

Take some time to select one or two truly nutritious cereal options. Most leading-brand products are heavily refined. Less-processed cereals, such as granolas and mueslis, may be more nutritious but can be surprisingly high in sugars and very dense in calories, so watch your serving sizes.

In choosing a fiber-rich product, select an unsweetened or minimally sweetened cereal that contains mostly whole-food, minimally processed ingredients and does not rely on “enriched” strategies for its nutritional merit. Make a point of topping whatever cereal you choose with nuts, berries, chopped apple, and ground flax or shelled hemp seed — or, better yet, start with a base of ingredients like these and then add a handful of cereal on top. Then add milk, yogurt or a milk alternative such as soy, hemp, rice or almond milk.

Avoid eating cereal plain out of the box for a snack. People tend to overeat cereal this way, getting a big infusion of fast-digesting sugars that can lead to hunger and cravings later. Instead, “toss cereal into a trail mix with nuts and seeds,” suggests Ward. Each of these options fuels the body with a steadier stream of energy and nets you more phytonutrients, fiber and healthy fats.


No comments: