Cereal-Loving Dietitian Reveals 3 Ways to Find the Healthiest Options
There are a few key things you should check for on the box.
On days when you don't have time to lay out a full balanced breakfast spread—or when you just have a craving—there's nothing more reliable than a bowl of cereal. You probably have a favorite variety, maybe even dating back to childhood, but these nostalgic faves are often as sugary as they are delicious. And while it's totally fine to indulge in these treats from time to time, you may also want a more nutritious option that you can reach for when you're hankering for a bowl. If you've ever stumbled when trying to choose that health-conscious box, you're in luck: Abbey Sharp, Registered Dietitian (RD), just revealed three ways to find the healthiest cereal options.
Check the fiber content.
In a Jan. 7 TikTok video, Sharp, who is based in Canada, admitted she's "obsessed" with cereal and eats it every day. So, when she's restocking and looking for healthy options at the grocery store, there are a few things she notes. First and foremost, fiber content.
"Fiber is really important for regularity and for satiety, so I typically look for a cereal for every day that has about 3 grams or more per serving," she explains in the TikTok.
Look at sugar, too.
While you might try to steer away from sugary cereals, you don't have to skip them altogether. Sharp points out that sometimes it's just a Cinnamon Toast Crunch day, "and that is A-OK."
The options that she eats regularly still have some sugar, just not as much.
"For every day, I typically look for a cereal that's not completely sugar-free—because hashtag flavor—but something that has less than 7 grams of sugar per serving," Sharp says.
She notes that she often eats her cereal with some Greek yogurt and berries, meaning that the extra fat, protein, and fiber "help to buffer any small amounts of simple sugars." In general, she says she also feels better when her breakfast isn't too sugary.
"I know I just feel best and I have better-sustained energy when I stick to a cereal that's a little lower in sugar," Sharp concludes.
Give the ingredients a good look.
The third and final thing Sharp looks for is the list of ingredients.
"I'm not one to demonize any kind of ingredient or additive, but it is worth turning your box around just to see what's inside your cereal," she says. "I like to specifically look at the order of ingredients in the ingredient list because ingredients are listed by weight, so we know that the ingredients at the top of the list are present in the largest amounts."
For example, Sharp looks for "whole grain" at the top of the list, and then for things like sugars, colors, and additives at the bottom.
You can check the label for a few more things.
In addition to Sharp's helpful tips, there are a few other things you can look for when choosing a cereal.
In addition to whole grains, fiber, and lower sugar, Beth Czerwony, RD, told Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, that you should also go for a cereal with higher protein and low sodium. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, Czerwony says sweeter cereals actually have elevated sodium levels, so try and find one with less than 140 milligrams per serving (and even less if you have high blood pressure or kidney issues).
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