Do you feel bamboozled by the ever expanding cereal aisle? Not sure what you should be looking for in a cereal?
You’re not alone. Supermarkets and food companies hope that you are confused so that you will succumb to strategic product placement, weekly specials, and clever marketing claims on front of packet. I am going to share some tips to ensure you are making the best purchase for your health, and the health of your family.
- More popular (and often less healthy) options will be placed at eye level and in abundance at the supermarket. These may also be found on special at the end of an aisle as part of a promotional stand. Try looking up, down and around at other options.
- To truly know what is in the cereal, take little notice of nutrition claims on the front, instead flip the product over and read the ingredient list, look for fewer ingredients. The more ingredients a product has, the more processed and refined it is likely to be.
- Ignore cartoon characters and pictures on the front, again these are there to entice kids and are often not the healthiest choice.
Nutrients to look out for
Look for cereals that contain less than 10% fat on the nutrition panel (less than 10g/100g). Fats should predominately be healthy mono-unsaturated fats instead of saturated trans fats.
Look for products that have less than 10g (2 teaspoons) of sugar per serve. If a cereal has more than this, check the ingredients to see if the sugar is naturally occurring or added sugar. Added sugar has many names, glucose syrup, dextrose, brown rice syrup, fructose to name a few.
Breakfast should be contributing close to a third of your daily fibre intake, particularly if you are a three meals a day person. Fibre is therefore a really important nutrient to look out for when choosing a cereal, as many processed and Gluten Free options are lacking. Look for cereals that have 3g at a minimum per serve, but higher towards 6-7g is ideal. Inadequate fibre in a cereal will leave you hungry not long after eating, and can lead to over-eating.
Cereals that have less than 120mg per 100g serve can be classed as low sodium. This is an ideal range. If a cereal has more than this, try to keep it below 300mg at a maximum. Excess salt can cause fluid retention and bloating, not to mention extra pressure on your heart and kidneys.
I hope these few tips remove some of the confusion around breakfast cereal selection and get you thinking next time you hit the cereal aisle!
As always,thanks for stopping by, Madeleine (THG).
This post first appeared on That Healthy Girl blog and was written by Madeleine Baumgart.