Cereal Everyday: Healthy Or Not? – Moms

Reading the ingredients is key to finding a cereal that is not full of sugar, preservatives, and processed grains.
One of the standard breakfasts for kids every day is a bowl of cereal. This is because it is easy and convenient and gives kids some vital energy after they eat to get their day moving. And with labels on some cereal boxes that state the cereal is low in sugar and full of fiber, parents believe that they are giving their kids a healthy breakfast. But, even with labels that tout being full of nutrition, eating cereal every day may not be the healthiest opinion for kids as not all cereals are created equal.
Cereal is made from corn, wheat, or rice. When these base ingredients are harvested, according to Kellogg's, they go through processing where they are partially dried and then have a sweetener added to them for flavor. Once they reach their desired drying state, they are puffed, rolled, or toasted to be transformed into the cereal consumers buy. But depending upon the cereal being produced, there may be processed and refined grains added, preservatives, and excessive sugars that make the cereal more akin to a dessert than that of a meal to start the day off right.
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Here is why cereal may not be the best option for breakfast every day.
In order for cereal to be on the healthier side of breakfast options, there should only be 10 grams of sugar or less per serving of cereal, according to Insider. However, when the publication reviewed seven different types of popular cereals, all exceeded the 10-gram threshold. This included ones that were made with whole grains and were high in fiber.
Just because cereals claim to be healthy, many times they add excess sugar to not only preserve the cereal in the box but to give it a longer time to sit in the milk before it becomes soggy, according to Kellogg's Australia. And as the milk begins to dissolve the sugar on the cereal, the sugar flavors the milk. As such, not only is there the sweetness from the cereal that kids get addicted to having but the sweet milk as well.
When grains are harvested, they are still intact. As a result, they contain the fiber, carbohydrates, minerals, and antioxidants that make whole grains healthy, according to Healthline. Unfortunately, when the grains are processed, much of those health benefits are lost and all that is left is the starch and some protein.
According to the publication, some cereal manufacturers will label their product as having whole grains because that is what the main ingredient was before it was ground down to a fine powder. However, with refined grains being nothing more than empty calories, there is very little nutritional value to cereal once it has gone through this process.
Outside of sugar acting as a preservative for cereal, there are others added to cereal as well that can be potentially harmful when eaten in large quantities.
According to Chefs For Seniors, many common kinds of cereal contain the preservatives BHA and BHT. While BHA and BHT allow boxes of cereal on shelves for months on end, per the publication they can also "affect the neurological system of the brain, alter behavior and has a potential to cause cancer."
While not all cereals contain these preservatives, those that do are cereals parents may want to steer clear of.
For those who enjoy their daily bowl of cereal and have a hard time finding a substitute for it in the morning, reading the label is important to finding the most nutrient-dense cereal to start the day off right.
According to Stephanie Kay Nutrition, when reading labels, look for the first ingredients on the list. These are the most "prominent" ingredients in the recipe. As such, if unhealthy ingredients such as sugar or one of its derivatives, processed grains, colors, or preservatives are listed first, the cereal is likely full of empty calories.
On the other hand, if whole grains, nuts, berries, fiber, and the like are listed first, the cereal is going to be healthier than most. This makes it the best option for those who want to eat cereal every day.
Source: Kellogg's, Insider, Kellogg's Australia, Healthline, Chefs For Seniors, Stephanie Kay Nutrition
Children who don’t eat breakfast won’t be able to concentrate as well, and in many ways, a full tummy equals a happy child.
Jessica is a writer based out of California. She is a mom to two fiercely independent, fun-loving girls and wife to a man who helps her find balance in life. Jessica is an avid runner, consumer of really great cups of coffee, and enjoys adventuring off the beaten path whenever possible. Family is number one to Jessica and is what makes living this crazy, hectic, beautiful life worthwhile.


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