Every morning, almost every household wakes up and has a cereal breakfast. Many think that cereal is healthy for everyone, especially for kids. Yet, that is not necessarily the case. Many brands of breakfast cereal actually contain ingredients and additives that may not be healthy for children, as well as for adults. How then do you ensure that the cereal you choose for your household is truly healthy for your kids, as well as for yourself? Read on for some important tips and suggestions.
- The unhealthiest ingredient in breakfast cereals these days is not the cereal itself. It's the sugar content. Don't get it wrong. Sugar is actually healthy, but in the right amounts. However, if your kids consume too much sugar, the consumption could lead to health problems, one of which is obesity. Therefore, always check your cereal brand's label for sugar content. Specifically, check the sugar content per serving. Some basic mathematics can help you get an idea of the amount of sugar that your child will be getting from the cereal. A teaspoonful of sugar is around 4 grams. Thus, if your cereal provides 12 grams of sugar per serving, that's three teaspoons of sugar per serving. Take note, too, that sugar comes in many forms and under many names: sugar, cane syrup, honey, molasses, corn syrup, and so on.
- Prefer the plain, sugar-less variety of breakfast cereal. For such kind of cereal, most people usually mix in the sugar together with the milk at breakfast time. But, watch your kids, as they can often add in more sugar than is necessary.
- Then, you also need to be careful with the additives. Many cereals have additives--the most common one are artificial colors and flavors--to make the cereal attractive to kids. Some kinds of additives can cause problems through prolonged exposure. Hyperactivity is said to be linked to certain kinds of additives, as are tumors in the thyroid, as well as allergies.
- Another thing to watch out for is preservative. All packed food items contain preservatives of one kind of another. Avoid cereals that contain BHT and BHA used as preservatives. These compounds have been found to be carcinogenic. According to experts and nutritionists, the safest kinds of preservatives for consumption with food are those from the group of mixed tocopherols, which belong to the same family as Vitamin E.
- Be a critical consumer. The packaging may look healthy and family friendly, but that may not necessarily be true at all. If the cereal is labeled "whole grain," check the label if it contains only whole grain. Most likely, it will also contain sugar and additives. Exercise the same critical attitude when considering "low-fat," "cholesterol-free," "sugar-free," "sugarless," and "all-natural" cereals.
- Go for more fiber rather than more sugar. Fiber has a lot of metabolic uses in the body. Foremost of all, it aids in digestion. Prefer the cereal with the most content of fiber. Fiber content is usually indicated on the label in milligrams per serving.
Simply because the box says so doesn't necessarily mean that your cereal is truly healthy. Yet, by exercising smart caution and a critical-consumer outlook, you can actually sift through all the packaging hype and find the healthiest cereal that you can serve to your family for breakfast.