The cereal aisle can be intimidating because it’s lined with cereal boxes making one claim or another. Front of the box labels can make all sorts of claims but finding a truly healthy cereal means knowing how to look at nutritional labels and ingredients.
6 Tips for Choosing a Healthy Cereal
1. Avoid artificial flavors
When the ingredient label reads artificial flavors put the box back on the shelf. Artificial flavors are a blanket term for added chemicals made to taste like natural flavors. The only problem is you don’t know what’s in it. It could be one or 100 unknown additives. By avoiding artificial flavors, you know what ingredients all actually in the cereal you’re eating.
2. Avoid artificial colors
Unlike artificial flavors, artificial colors (very commonly found in children’s cereal) must be separately listed. These include three of the most popular artificial colors: Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Red #40. While the FDA still contends that they’re safe, some evidence has found that they cause increased symptoms of ADHD.
3. Look at where the fiber is sourced
Your cereal should have at least 5 grams of fiber. And while fiber is important, where your fiber comes from is also important. You want the fiber to come from the actual whole grain. Some cereals want to make the claim that they’re high fiber so they add fiber in the form of inulin, pea fiber, or bleached oat fiber.
4. Know all the names for sugar
Know all the names for sugar like brown sugar, caramel, honey or artificial sweeteners like sucralose and acesulfame potassium. It’s best to choose cereals that aren’t sweetened and then add your own form of sweetness like maple syrup, raw honey, or brown rice syrup.
5. Keep the serving size in mind
Some cereals may look like they’re low in calories and fat when the serving size is 1/2 cup. Make sure you do the math in your head before dumping a cup into your bowl. You can always add tons of fruit to add nutrients and fill up the bowl in order to cut calories.
6. Look for protein
Protein keeps you fuller, longer which is especially important in the morning. Check the protein content and if it’s too low you can always supplement your cereal by adding chia or hemp seeds.
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