Breakfast cereal is a quick and often nutritious breakfast and for some, and serves as an occasional lunch or dinner as well. Even though cereal can be nutritious, there are some potential consumer pitfalls to avoid when buying cereal if your goal is to eat well. Consumers should be sure to purchase cereals with the following in mind:
- Cereal should provide fiber. Most Americans are not getting enough dietary fiber and by choosing a cereal with fiber, you can improve your odds of meeting your fiber requirements. Americans should be eating between 25-40 grams of fiber, so choosing a cereal with at least 3-5 grams of fiber is a good start. Some cereals, such as the Kashi line, have 10 grams of fiber per serving. Many fiber rich cereals are also made from the more nutrient dense whole grains, which offer a laundry list of additional nutrients aside from fiber.
- Cereal should be limited in sugar. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 5 grams of sugar. Be sure to check out the Nutrition Facts Panel on the box for this information. A cereal should have less than 3 grams of sugar.
- Cereals should be limited in fat. Cereals are primarily complex carbohydrate. If more than one to two grams of fat per serving are noted on the food label, the cereal company may have added additional fat to the product. Cracklin Oat Bran has a hefty 7 grams of fat in 3/4 cup serving, which would be excessive for a cereal.
- Cereals contain iron. While many people need that iron fortification, seniors do not and should take stock of how much iron is in their selected cereal. Look at the Nutrition Fact Panel, and note if the iron is 100%. If so, it is too much, and a cereal with 0-25% iron should be selected.
Selecting a low sugar and fat cereal loaded with fiber is a good way to put your best nutritional foot forward for the day.