I mean, you can assume stuff like Apple Jacks and Froot Loops are basically candy you pretend counts as breakfast, but what about the brands that claim to be chock full of healthy nutrients and such?
The 6 nutritionists below weigh in on whether any cereal is a healthy start to a good day,
#6. Urvashi Mulasi
Mulasi is a professor of nutrition and food/dietetics and California State University in Sacramento, and teachers that a low-sugar, low-salt, high-fiber cereal – especially if you add fruit – can be beneficial to one’s diet.
“Research has shown that people who eat cereal for breakfast tend to have a lower body mass index, and are at a lower risk for being overweight or obese. They have more energy throughout the day, and they’re less likely to consume higher calories later, because they’re fuller at the start of the day.”
#5. Marion Nestle
It depends, says the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and the author of Food Politics., on the level of your concern about how your food is processed.
“For people who eat generally healthful diets, breakfast cereal – no matter what kind – is just another food. For people concerned about eating healthfully, the level of processing matters. Cereals are grains and these have to be processed to be digestible, but the processing can range from just cooking, to removing the nutrient-rich germ and bran, extruding to create form and texture, and adding vitamins, minerals, fivers, colors, flavors, salt, sugars, chocolate, and marshmallows.”
So, while steel-cut oatmeal is relatively pure, kids’ cereals should be thought of as “vitamin-enriched candy or cookies.”
#4. Danna Hunnes
Hunnes, an Adjunct at Community Health Sciences, UCLA, thinks that cereals with all-natural ingredients like whole grain or shredded wheat, provide some health benefits.
“Eating whole grain breakfast cereal can have gastrointestinal benefits and can improve heart health (if it’s a soluble fiber) and can definitely be a good way to get a concentrated amount of grain in one serving.”
She also suggests looking for organic cereals in order to avoid pesticides like Roundup that can find their way into your morning bowl.
#3. Joan Salge Blake
Blake, a Health Sciences professor at Boston University, says that if you’re one of the many Americans who needs more fiber in their diet, eating cereal can be a great way to start the day.
“They [Americans] should be getting somewhere between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day, but they’re coming in at less than 15 grams. So whole grain cereal – especially when rich in fiber – is a great way to get that needed fiber boost.
Your brain loves glucose, and glucose comes from carbohydrates, so having a breakfast in the morning that is whole-grain and has some dairy is going to give you a carbohydrate-rich fuel that helps your brain and body function throughout the day.”
#2. Lisa Herzig
This Fresno State University professor also warns against the highly processed nature of many cereals.
“The more processed a grain is, the higher the added sugar content. But if it’s a whole grain cereal, then it’s more of a complex carbohydrate, which provides better benefits…add some low-fat milk, some yogurt and some fresh fruit and you’ve got a really excellent healthy breakfast – or lunch, or dinner.”
#1. Amy Miskimon Goss
The Assistant Professor of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama-Birmingham warns against the majority of cereals, which have a ton of refined grain and added sugar, which can lead to a glucose/insulin spike can negatively impact how your body processes fat and other sugars throughout the day.
“You have to do a lot of label-reading, and a lot of hunting for specific cereals. And I’d also say that there are other breakfast foods that might be a bit more nutritious than a bowl of cereal – whole foods like eggs and vegetables, things like that.”
There you go! It sounds like you can enjoy that morning bowl, but if you want health benefits, too, you’ll have to be choosy about what you pour into it.