When it’s cold outside, there’s no better way to start the day than with a bowl of hot cereal. Today, alongside old favorites like Quaker Oats, Cream of Wheat, Wheatena and Maypo, there are dozens of new varieties in supermarkets and natural foods markets. The latest offerings include fancy new flavor twists, as well as sugar-free and low-sugar versions, multigrain varieties and cereals enhanced with nuts, seeds and fiber.
As is often the case, there’s more?and sometimes less’than meets the eye, so label reading is a must. Most importantly, make sure your cereal is whole grain, preferably 100%, but at the least with a whole grain as the first ingredient.
Next, choose a cereal with the highest fiber content you can find. Fiber varies widely, from a low of one to two grams per serving to a high of seven to nine grams. In general, the higher the fiber content, the more healthful whole grains you get, though sometimes fiber is added in a form other than whole grains.
Don’t forget that serving sizes vary substantially, so when comparing Nutrition Facts, make note of how much cereal you?re getting for the calories.
Hot Tips for a Hearty Winter Breakfast
- Choose a cereal that’s mostly whole grains (listed first in the ingredients), for fiber and phytonutrients.
- Reach for unflavored cereals; add your own spices and fruit to save on sodium and sugar. Flavored and instant varieties typically contain the most sodium and sugar, so you?re better off adding your own cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries or sliced bananas.
- Be aware of sweeteners. Cereals labeled ?low sugar? or ‘sugar-free? are still sweet because they contain artificial sweeteners. If you?re looking for a less sweet taste, opt for plain varieties and add your own?or not.
- Prepare it with skim milk or fortified soy milk instead of water; it?ll boost calcium and other nutrients and make for a creamier texture.
- Add heart-healthy toppings, like wheat germ, flaxmeal or walnuts for vitamin E and omega-3 fats.
Nutrition Comparison of Hot Cereals
As with all EN comparisons, this is only a sampling of many products available. Hot cereals are listed by fiber content from most to least. Serving size is dry measure as listed.
J = EN‘s Picks. Hot cereal picks contain at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 8 grams of sugar (2 teaspoons) and 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.