Here is an easy way of finding the healthiest breads and cereals that you can. Number one, look for the words WHOLE GRAIN. Look at the first two ingredients, if one those two do not say WHOLE GRAIN, put it back! Number 2, look for the FDA-approved health claim that reads “In a low fat diet, whole grain foods may reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer”. That sounds easy enough doesn’t it. Now you have no more excuses when you are at the store. You can find healthy breads and cereals for you and your family.
Well, we know how to find whole grain foods, but even at that, there is still discrepancy between how much whole grain should be in the food to make it the healthiest. Look once again at the nutritional statement on the box. There are two things you really want to look for. Fiber grams and Sugar grams. High fiber, low sugar is the best bet. So, what is high fiber, what is low sugar? The FDA will usually only put their mark of approval on foods that are good or excellent sources of fiber. A good source of fiber has 6-10 grams of fiber per serving. An excellent source of fiber has 16 or more grams of fiber per serving. Using this as your guide, you need only to eat 3 servings of an excellent source of fiber, or 6 of the good sources of fiber. As far as sugar goes you should eat foods with 2 grams or less of sugar per serving. The more sugar in the servings, the less fiber that will be in it. The more fiber, the less sugar. Lets look at a new trend General Mills is coming up with. Take the new whole grain, low sugar Cinnamon Toast Crunch. We need to look at both boxes to compare this. Here is the regular cereals stats. 130 Calories, 10 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber. How about the new cereal, 120 calories, 2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fiber. General mills has done a pretty good job. If you have to eat cinnamon toast crunch, then this will be better than the original. But does it stack up to our new found knowledge? NO! There is hardly any fiber in this cereal to make it a good source of fiber. It would not be considered a good source, or an excellent source. They did manage to make it look better on paper however, or cardboard to be exact. How about one of those healthy cereals? Let’s look at Kashi GoLean Crunch. It says seven whole grains, it has 190 calories per serving, 8 grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar, it also contains 9 grams of protein.
When looking at the nutritional facts on the box the first set of ingredients is, whole oats, whole long grain brown rice, whole rye, whole hard red winter wheat, whole triticale, whole buckwheat, whole barley, and sesame seeds. The second item is soy protein concentrate, and the third is evaporated cane juice, followed by brown rice syrup. So we are getting better on our choices here. Even with the high sugar content, which is all natural by the way, they do have whole grains, and multi-grains at that. I am not saying natural sugar is really much better for you, but at least it is not the refined white sugar that we see so often. These natural sugars will still affect your blood sugars, but will take a little longer than refined sugar. Put this cereal next to our new set of standards and how does it stack up? Well, we are doing good on fiber, the added protein is a good addition, sugar however is still above the recommended health benefit. Is it good for you? It is better than even the whole grain low sugar Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but you will need to decide if this is the best you can do.
So, with all this information what should we do? We should try to make the best choices available. If you are afraid that eating healthier will cause you to be slaving away in the kitchen you need to realize that there are so many products out there that are good for you and easy to fix. Take for example the Grinin Grains line. Home made batches of scone mix, pancake mix, waffle mixes, and cereal mixes. These are made in small batches using the whole grain and priding themselves on the healthiness of their product. Breads, cereals, pastas, and even baked goods are beginning to come around and make the change to provide a healthier food choice for your family. Shouldn’t you try and do the same?