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Cereal in a Box

Eating breakfast cereals is a great way to fuel our body. Breakfast cereals are grains that have been processed. Sources of grains are typically corn, oats, wheat and rice. With an abundance of different varieties of boxed cereals in the supermarket it can get confusing as to which ones to choose from especially if you are maintaining positive dietary habits.

Whole grain breakfast cereals are the most superior of all breakfast cereals but it can be tricky identifying which grains are ‘whole grains’ with all the different terms used to name grains in packaged products.

Whole grains are made up of three different parts. They are the bran, germ and endosperm.

The bran consists of antioxidants, B vitamins and fibre.

The germ consists of many B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.

The endosperm consists of starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.The starchy component of the endosperm is our source of energy. All three parts are required for a grain product to be termed ‘whole grain’.

A nutritious breakfast cereal would contain the word(s) ‘whole grain’, ‘whole wheat’ whole bran, ‘oat ‘or ‘oatmeal ‘on its ingredient list. They will also display a percentage (%) next to it. For example, ‘wholegrains 87%’ where you know 87% of that product consists of whole grains. The higher the percentage of wholegrains in your breakfast cereal, the better it is.

Let’s make sense of this 'whole grain' stuff on ingredient lists of different types of breakfast cereals

Product 1

Whole wheat, sultanas (26%), wheat bran (25%), sugar, barley malt extract, salt, minerals (iron, zinc oxide), vitamins (niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate). (Natural source of magnesium).

Product 1 contains, whole wheat (% unknown but probably more than 26% seeing as it is the first ingredient before sultanas) and wheat bran (25% of the product is made of wheat bran). This could only mean that at least about 50% of this product is made up of whole grains.

Product 2

Cereals (63%) (rice, wheat bran, maize flour, whole grain wheat, wheat, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour), sugar, wheat protein, oat fibre, minerals (calcium carbonate, iron, zinc oxide), salt, molasses, antioxidant (rosemary extract), flavour, barley malt extract, vitamins (vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, vitamin D).

In product 2, ‘cereals’ includes whole grains such as wheat bran, whole grain wheat and whole grain oat flour as well as other grains and grain products such as rice, maize flour, wheat and wheat flour that probably have had their fibre (bran) portion removed. This means that 63% of cereals in this breakfast product is only partially made from whole grains.

Product 3

Whole wheat (52%), wheat bran (34%), sugar, barley malt extract, salt, minerals (iron, zinc oxide), vitamins (niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate).

86% of this Breakfast cereal is made up of whole grain with 52% consisting of whole wheat and 34% of wheat bran.

Product 4

Wholegrain wheat (97%), raw sugar, salt, barley malt extract, vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate), mineral (iron).

This breakfast cereal is straightforward. 97% of this product is made up of whole grains. This product gets a gold star from me as being the most superior of all ready to eat breakfast cereals I have listed in this blog. Look out for this ingredient list on next time you shop for breakfast cereals.

Product 5

Cereals (61%) (maize flour, wheat flour, oat flour, barley flour), sugar, cocoa (5%), salt, mineral salt (sodium bicarbonate), flavour (vanilla), vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate).

This breakfast cereal does not contain any whole grains. 61% if this product is made up of cereals that have the (bran) fibre portion removed. Hence this cereal is not completely nutritious even though it has added B vitamins and folate.

Product 6

Corn (88%), sugar, salt, barley malt extract, vitamins (vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

This breakfast cereal sadly does not contain any whole grains.

Breakfast cereals are nutritious when they have their bran (fibre portion) intact, have been fortified with B vitamins and minerals such as folate, zinc, iron or calcium, contain proteins (found in the germ and endosperm of the grain), healthy fats (found in the germ part of the grain) and low amounts of added sugar.

Dried fruits can increase the sugar content of the breakfast cereal but the sugar in this instance is from natural sources and have not been added to the product unless sugar has been added to fruit during the processing stage. This will be listed on the ingredient list e.g. sweetened cranberries.

The next time you plan to do your grocery shopping, do some online research to identify nutritious breakfast cereal prior to making a supermarket run. You can search the respective supermarket websites or the specific brands site to read the ingredient list.

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