Cereal -- that old, familiar breakfast staple gets a bad rap as a poor choice for being too low in protein, too high in sugars and too processed to be healthful.
Although that’s true of many breakfast cereals, Consumer Reports says plenty are nutritious -- and they have some tips on how to pick a good one.
It’s best if you can hit four main things: A protein, a complex carbohydrate, a dairy and a fruit. And the nice thing about cereal is, it’s a quick and easy way to get all those things if you throw in a sliced banana or something like that.
The health and nutrition team at Consumer Reports says choosing the right cereal is key.
Start, with a whole grain -- 100 percent whole grain is best, but at the very least, find one with a whole grain as the first ingredient. Whole grains have been linked to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. And another benefit is that they’re going to fill you up, so you’re not going to get that mid-morning hunger attack.
Next, get rid of sugars. If you really want a sweetened cereal, choose one with no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
You also need to pay attention to protein. It may help keep blood sugar steady and helps with weight control. Cereal usually has a few grams of protein, but if you add cow’s milk or yogurt, you’re going to get a decent amount of protein.
Finally, watch your portions. People often pour more than they realize. So grab your favorite bowl and measure out a serving, so you recognize what a proper portion really is.
A few good picks? Post Shredded Wheat, Alpen Muesli No Sugar Added. And, if you want something a little sweeter, Cheerios Multi-Grain. All three performed well for taste and nutrition, in a recent Consumer Reports Analysis.