Grocery Shopping for Your Health: Breakfast cereals
Breakfast comes in various forms, from those eaten cold to others served warm, from grab-and-go portions to pull-up-a-chair meals. You might define breakfast as the first meal of the day, whenever that is, while others say breakfast is a meal eaten within an hour or two of waking up,.
However you define it, breakfast is a meal that should not be skipped.
But is. And increasingly often.
Periodic research from the non-profit International Food Information Council has found that fewer people are starting their day with breakfast compared to past decades, even as they acknowledge that eating breakfast is a healthful way to start the day. Some skip the meal with excuses like “I have no time to eat,” “I wake up too late,” or “I’m just not hungry when I get up.”
Breakfast is your body’s first meal to refuel itself, literally “breaking the fast” since last night’s dinner. Breakfast contributes food energy to help our brain function, whether we’re going to school, work or just about our day. But, the foods you select can make a difference in your morning energy level. Eating a variety of foods with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats provides a sustained release of energy. These nutrients will delay your hunger symptoms for several hours, so select foods that are low in sugar.
We could devote an entire blog series just to the importance of breakfast. But, let’s turn our attention to the breakfast aisle, featuring shelves brimming with cereals for our morning meal.
Cereals are produced from differing parts of the grain: the bran, germ and endosperm. Besides wheat, though, manufacturers also use oats, corn, rice, seeds, and more to produce cereals. Many cereals also are fortified with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
So, how do you make the right choice for you? Well, with so many choices from multi-grain to whole grain, you need to read the nutrition facts label. Cereals that are good fiber sources supply at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving, with whole-grain cereals typically packing more. And while bran is high in fiber, it lacks the vitamins and minerals found in the germ portion of the grain.
Many cooked cereals like oatmeal, grits and cream of rice are whole grain. If you choose to eat instant versions of these, though, check the nutrition label for added sugar and salt.
And let’s not leave out granola-style cereals. These cereals can have more fat, sugars and sodium. A better choice might be muesli, made from grains, nuts and dried fruits, with has less fat and added sugars.
One last tip before we leave. During processing, many cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals have them sprayed onto the cereal. These vitamins and minerals will dissolve in milk so to be sure you eat these added nutrients by drinking all the milk in the bowl.
So next time you find yourself having a slow start to your day, re-think enjoying a nice bowl of either warm or cold cereal. And remember: read the label.
NEXT: We check out the breads aisle and bakery area.