It has been around for a long time and is easily associated with TV commercials that include a happy family with children eating breakfast together; you will find cereal, some orange juice and other snacks on such a table. If you try to lead a healthy lifestyle and eat breakfast, you probably have one or two boxes of cereal or granola in your kitchen cabinets. And it is understandable, since these breakfast options are quick to prepare, delicious and in many cases quite healthy. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything and as convenient as it is, cereal might not be the healthiest of options.
Cereal, granola, muesli… Many names can be found on labels of packages containing grains of some kind. Cereal is usually used to refer to any kind of flakes or grains as a whole, whereas muesli and granola have a more precise meaning. Essentially, both are the same, meaning they include various grains, berries, seeds, nuts and other ingredients. However, while muesli is unbaked, granola is baked, oftentimes together with a sweetener and oil, making it the less healthy option. Moreover, granola is less versatile when it comes to different ways you can eat it. Due to the consistency of the grains, muesli can be eaten both cold (you have to soak in liquid first) or hot (cooked in water or other liquid), while granola can only be served with yoghurt or milk and eaten immediately, otherwise it would get soggy.
First, most cereals that actually taste good are packed with added sugars, which are most definitely processed and add no nutritional value to the meal. If you do decide to choose cereal for your morning meal, consider most of them to discover the healthiest option:
- Wheat. This one is tricky, because it might sound healthy but in reality can be the worst out of all options. There are two main factors to take into account when buying wheat cereal – amount of sugar and type of flour. Try to avoid refined (white) flour at all cost because there is nothing healthy about them. Also do your best to find wheat cereal that would have six or even fewer grams of sugar per serving. In that case, you will be able to fully enjoy the health benefits that wheat cereal brings, which include less inflammation, smaller risk of gall stones, diverticulitis and other illnesses.
- Corn. The go-to for everyone who is a celiac since most corn cereals are gluten-free. What they also don’t have is a lot of fiber, so their nutritional value is very poor. Moreover, corn is usually genetically modified, making it an even less desirable breakfast food. If you like corn cereal a lot, consider flakes and puffs that are low on sugar and mix them up with cereal that is high in fiber and would ensure that you feel energized.
- Oat. Oats have undeniable health benefits, especially those that relate to better digestion and lower cholesterol levels. However, watch out for granola loaded with sugars and oil that completely destroy any health benefits you could get from it.
- Alternative. Options like rice, millet and quinoa are becoming more and more desirable when it comes to morning cereals. Most of them are known to have benefits for managing weight and helping the digestive track, so check them out!