Friday, October 28, 2011

Sorting out hot cereals

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
Full time faculty
School of Health Sciences

My favorite post-run breakfast is oatbran with fruit and some type of vegan protein powder. With the morning temperatures getting lower, you may be thinking about switching your cold breakfast foods for something warm. While it isn’t easy to figure out which cold cereals are 100% whole grain, with hot cereals whole grains are the norm not the exception. Even Cream of Wheat has a whole-grain version. 

Do some whole grains beat others? It doesn’t appear so as studies have found a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease in people who eat any whole-grain cereal and especially those rich in insoluble fiber.

So what are some good choices? To avoid breakfast boredom you may want to stock your pantry with a variety of different grains. Most whole-grain hot cereals (with the exception of rice cereals) have 4-5 grams of fiber per serving (40 grams dry, which equals about 1 cup cooked). The instant hot cereals also count as whole grains but they may get some of their fiber from added isolated fibers like inulin instead of the natural bran. Inulin may supply extra fiber but research hasn’t found it to be beneficial for the heart or the colon as of yet.

Hold the sugar when choosing your cereal and choose unsweetened over the presweetened packets. It doesn’t matter if the sugar is cane, date, or brown sugar; to your body it’s all the same. You would be better off adding your own sugar as you will undoubtedly end up with less. Most non-instant hot cereals don’t have added sodium while most instant hot cereals do. So if you use instant look for levels close to 100 mg per serving.

Here are just a few good bets for breakfast that are 100% whole grain, contain no added sugar, and have no more than 100 mg of sodium per serving: Bob’s Red Mill – all varieties of hot cereal, McCann’s Irish Oat Bran, Mother’s Oat Bran, Quaker Old Fashioned or Quick Oats, Cream of Wheat Whole Grain, Steel Cut Oats and Erewhon brand. And if you are looking for something quick and wholesome try Trader Joe’s frozen Steelcut Oatmeal.


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