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3 Steps to Choosing Healthy Cereal

Even if you avoid the brightly colored boxes of sugarcoated kids' cereals, you may not be picking the healthiest breakfast options. Sugars, calories and fats can be hidden in many cereals - including those that are marketed as "healthy." Consider the following when choosing cereals:

Sugars: Choose varieties with eight grams of sugar or less per serving. Be aware that cereals with dried fruits provide additional sugar that can quickly add up. Instead of dried fruit, add fresh, whole fruit to your cereal.

Fiber: Aim for at least three grams of fiber per serving. The words whole grain and whole wheat are not always good indicators that fiber content will be substantial, especially if they appear as flour on the ingredient panel. Some healthful choices are steel-cut oats, bran and wheat germ cereals, and whole grain cereals with actual bits of grain and no added sugars.

Fats: Avoid any product that contains trans-fats, and choose cereals that have less than one gram of saturated fat. Be aware that granola, regarded by many as the quintessential health food, can pack plenty of unhealthy fats - and sugars - so read labels carefully before buying. 

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Reader Comments (1)

Hi Dr. Weil,

I have been eating Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal for quite some time.

After listening to you speak on Dr. Oz I am no longer certain this is a wise choice in terms of glycemic effect. It is listed as having 12 or more grams of whole grains per serving (3/4 cup). I wrote Kashi and they wrote back indicating that due to the bran added, it lessons the whole grains but is still healthy. I am 6' tall and weigh 165. I don't have any problems with sugar that I am aware of . Never had diabetes. I tend to have high cholesterol and in fact had a stent in my RCA, 8 years ago at age 51. I take 40mg of Pravachol and Zetia to offset the cholesterol which is now quite low. My cholesterol after these medications is now about 140, my LDLS around 65 and HDLS around 60. I had the stent 8years ago and with medication have not had the need of another one. I am almost 59. I exercise on the elliptical machine 3x a week at 40 minutes each time and dance at least once a week for a couple of hours. Father died of heart attack at age 55. I feel quite healthy. But still I don't want to eat a cereal that is not healthy.i

I am still not sure if cereal is healthy or not. Listed on the ingredients: Whole Oat Flour ( whenever I read flour, according to your explanation it would mean pulverized and thus have much greater service exposed and a higher glycemic effect than the whole grain or cracked grain).Evaporated Cane juice, honey (sounds like a fancy way of saying sugar) oat bran (that sounds healthy), yellow corn meal, corn flour (both sound rather pulverized). Kashi seven whole grains flour (whole oats, hard red wheat, rye, brown rice, tiricale, barley, buckwheat) once again sounds healthy at first but flour regardless of source is by definition pulverized and has a high glycemic effect. The cereal has 4 gr of protein, 5 grams of sugar and 5 grams of dietary flour (4 insoluble and 1 soluble. Vitamins A , E , Folic acid B6 and B12 are added to give 100%RDA

If you agree that the glycemic effect is too high, what other cold cereals would you recommend?, I add vanilla silk soy milk, almonds, walnuts, and blueberries to my cereal.

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKen

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