Cereal 101–Tips To Pick The Best Cereal!
Hey, hey, hey! In honor of National Nutrition (yeah, March is National Nutrition Month) I would like to help you shop in the grocery store! Let me take you down the aisle and let’s talk! Oh how, I miss helping people shop for groceries, it was definitely one of my favorite parts of working as a supermarket dietitian. First, let’s walk down that looong cereal. There are so many cereals to choose from that it may seem a little overwhelming. However, at my house my kids usually pick from the same 5 cereals (not listed below) according to their taste buds, maybe your family is the same. So, I went through my pantry and here are the ones that I could find to give you some examples as we take a look at the labels.
Today many cereals follow pretty good standard for nutrition, meaning, many of them are made with whole grains and fortified with a number of minerals and vitamins. However, as my personal opinion I feel that cereal is about 10 steps away from its original grain (through all the processing) and therefore I prefer oatmeal (steel cut oats) over cereal, but not my kids! Cereal does make a great breakfast, snack or I-don’t-want-to-make-any-food-tonight-let’s-have-cereal-for-dinner! It’s a meal you really can’t beat, it tastes great! Cereal is definitely a staple in my children’s diets. So how do you know if you are buying the right cereal? Or maybe you need to step up your cereal and find one a bit better? Here are some steps to follow:
Usually most cereals are less than the 20% recommended Daily Value but I wanted to make sure you check the sodium, too! Sodium can sure add up especially if you are following a low-sodium (1500 mg) diet. By the way, have you ever checked out the sodium in bread!? More than you would have thought, I bet. Anyway, back to cereal, you may think 10 grams of sugar might seem high but follow me on this one . . . I and usually I try to find cereals for my kids between 6-8 grams but I also buy one cereal that is 10 grams per serving, check out my guideline below.*
Kashi cereals always do an outstanding job with their ingredient lists and that is why I picked their label as my example for step number 5! Make sure the product contains whole grains . . .and most of them do these days! Make sure the first or second ingredient is a WHOLE grain.
Here are some example of easy to find nutrition facts on the front of the box! I use this all time, especially when looking for how much sugar is in products.
Sorry for the poor box but even private labels are getting on board with having easy to find nutrition facts on the front of the package, too!
Wow, nutrition key icons are everywhere! I was surprised to see them even on the lid!
More helpful icons! When you see this whole grain stamp from the Whole Grain Council that is a good sign! This product is made with whole grains. Plus, if you are diabetic and are counting carbohydrates, the exchanges are listed right on the box.
My kids like Kix cereal, it is probably the lowest sugared cereal that is on their favorite cereal list. *I usually buy three boxes of cereal each week and follow my guideline of two cereals containing 6-8 grams of sugar per serving and one box of cereal containing 10 grams of sugar per serving. I am not always on the sugar police patrol but I am a huge believer in balance! Finding moderate sugared cereals help balance out our weekly donut outing, hehehe!
Hope this helps! Cheerio! Happy Friday!