Are You Flirting With A Cereal Killer

December 15th, 2010  Posted at   Health
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If you are one of the few and wise Canadians who choose to sit down to breakfast every day, you are likely eating a cold breakfast cereal from time to time.

Are you choosing the right one? Manufacturers of cold breakfast cereals pay a lot of money to convince you to pick their box of mashed, processed, refined, baked, flaked, enriched, sweetened and roughened grains.

Cereal marketing begins with the stacking of the shelves. Sugary cereals are generally at shopping cart level, where kids can see them and bug their parents to give in to the ‘sweet’ pressure of Saturday morning commercials.

At an adult’s eye level are sweetened adult cereals, tempting us into a spot decision. The top shelf boasts the healthier choices (as well as the cereals that like to pretend they’re healthy).

Fortunately there are government regulations for nutrition labelling. However, these labels can sometimes be confusing. It is a jumble of nutrients and numbers.

To speed up your decisions, zero in on three key things: serving size, and the fibre and sugar content.

The weight of a serving is always 30 g, but the size varies from one-third to two cups depending on the fluffiness and packability of the flakes. Compare the serving size to what you think you normally eat.

Cereals are described as ‘high’ fibre if they provide four grams of fibre per serving and as ‘very high’ if they have six grams or more of fibre. Experts figure we need 25 – 40 grams of a variety of fibres every day. Choosing at least a ‘high’ fibre cereal helps you start the day right. Don’t get stuck on one variety of cereal, because different fibres do different things for our bodies. Choose from grains like corn, wheat, oats or rice.

Sugar is the next item you want to look for on a label. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. A reasonable amount of sugar for an adult cereal is six to eight grams. For children, we tend to be slightly more liberal and allow six to ten grams of sugar.

Sometimes wholesome ingredients in the cereal contribute to the amount of ‘sugars’ listed. For instance, raisins contain the natural sugar fructose. Just one tablespoon of raisins will add eight grams of sugar to the nutrient listing.
To round off your breakfast, add sliced bananas or cantaloupe on top. Adding a source of protein to your meal will also do a great deal to extend your energy supply. Cheese, peanut butter, eggs or nuts are all excellent sources of protein.

Now go eat your breakfast!

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