Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and cereal is one of the most popular breakfast foods in the world. Choosing your breakfast cereal wisely can help ensure that you begin your day on sound nutritional footing. Whether cereal is hot or cold, conventional or organic, the possibilities for good nutrition are seemingly endless.
Hot cereals can make you feel like a kid again, when you ate a hot and wholesome breakfast before going out to play in a foot of freshly fallen snow. Options such as oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and Malt-O-Meal are healthy hot breakfast options. They come in wholesome, unsweetened versions as well as in sugary, processed versions. By buying unsweetened, whole-grain hot breakfast cereals, you can add healthier natural sweeteners such as honey and fruit.
Whole-grain cereals, such as Cheerios, Kashi and Shredded Wheat, feature whole grains and very little or no added sugars. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found that oat-based whole grain cereals can help reduce cholesterol and aid in heart health. Other whole grains, such as whole wheat, can help you feel full and satisfied as you start your day, all without the sugar roller-coaster that processed cereals can send you on.
Bran cereals, such as Raisin Bran, Fiber One and Bran Flakes, are high-fiber offerings for your breakfast table. Fiber can help keep you feeling full and aid in digestion and regularity. If you fear that you do not consume enough dietary fiber in your daily diet, adding a bran-based cereal to your morning routine can help supplement that.
Sugary cereals are often placed at a child's eye level in the grocery store. These cereals are often highly processed and have loads of added sugar and preservatives. Cereals such as Reese's Puffs, Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms can be eaten as an occasional fun treat, but if you or your child eats them on a daily basis, you might notice that the huge sugar rush affects your mood and energy level.
Nature's Path, EnviroKidz and Cascadian Farm are popular organic cereal brands. These brands produce cereals similar to most popular conventional cereals, and they do it using ingredients free of pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods also cannot be genetically engineered. Most cereals use natural sweeteners that are not overly-processed as well as lots of whole grains. Read the ingredients to be sure you are actually purchasing a nutritious product and to weigh whether or not the added cost is worth the possible benefit to your health.
Anne Kinsey is a writer, business woman, minister and coach who is passionate about inspiring others to walk out their career dreams and believe in possibilities. She resides in rural North Carolina with her husband and three children, where they enjoy the great outdoors and serve at-risk youth together.