Cereal is a staple breakfast food for many people. Children and adults alike enjoy it in the morning or even as a snack later on in the day. Is cereal healthy though? Discover the truth behind this classic pantry food below to determine whether or not it is improving your well being.

Bowl with colored cereals

Cereal History and Overview

From what it seems, cereal as we know it dates back to 1863, New York. James Caleb Jackson accidentally made this food when he created graham flour dough baked hard. It was so tough that he had to soak it overnight in milk in order to be soft enough to eat.

The dough was originally intended to serve as a digestive aid to patients in a medical sanitarium who had limited access to nutritional meals. This marks the beginning of the countless health claims associated with cereals. Surprisingly enough, people enjoyed the concoction and thus cereal was introduced to consumers all over the nation.

Grape Nuts is considered to be the first cereal offered for sale and to offer coupons to consumers. Over the years, coupons have been used to entice people to purchase breakfast cereals and continue to play a large role in marketing tactics. In time, countless iconic cereals have dominated grocery store shelves, all offering their own unique perks. Cereal is a simple breakfast food that only requires milk and can be both filling and tasty.

Common Cereal Ingredients

In order to determine whether cereal is healthy or not, you should first know the most commonly used ingredients in leading brands such as Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran and Honey Nut Cheerios. They consist of the following:

  • Wheat;
  • Oats;
  • Rice;
  • Bran;
  • Flour;
  • Granola;
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup;
  • Sugar;
  • Corn Starch;
  • Hydrogenated Oil;
  • Synthetic Vitamins;
  • Artificial Coloring/Dye.

As you may have guessed, many kinds of cereal share the same core ingredients. However, artificial and natural flavors, sugar and add-on ingredients such as chocolate and nuts attract the target consumer, which is why producers use them. Children’s cereals tend to be sweeter and softer while cereals marketed to adults are often more bland and crunchy.

Dangers of Cereal

To determine whether or not is cereal healthy you should always refer to the ingredient’s list of your favorite brands. Many of the leading ingredients used are beneficial in any well-balanced diet. Some of the most noteworthy ones include the following:

  • Bran;
  • Oats;
  • Rice;
  • Whole wheat;
  • Nuts.

As you may have noticed, grains dominate the list. This is because cereal is a product people dry, refine and process. Grains not only have a long-lasting shelf life but are also filling and provide long-term energy throughout the day. However, eating too many grains can be dangerous for weight management and managing healthy blood sugar levels.

The main risk associated with breakfast cereal is the use of processed ingredients, high sugar content and potentially harmful preservatives and GMOs. Children may especially react negatively to these things, so it is best to choose a cereal that does not incorporate them such as organic products.

Cereal companies are notorious for making false health claims about their products. This is why it is critical to always read the ingredient list so you know exactly what you are buying. Highly processed cereals are good for an occasional treat and not as a daily breakfast.

Are There Benefits to Cereal?

Answering the question “Is cereal healthy?” really depends on the brand itself. Generally speaking, the most nutritious options have few ingredients, consist primarily of whole grains and utilize low amounts of sugar and preservatives.

To make the best choice for your health, look for cereals that contain high fiber and some protein. Fiber is an essential nutrient that not only slows down the rate your body uses sugar which can maintain healthy blood sugar levels but also keeps you feeling fuller longer. This can result in less snacking throughout the day and as a result, fewer calories digested. Fiber is a critical part of weight management and you can also use it as a digestive aid.

Fortunately, high fiber cereals are becoming increasingly popular making it easier than ever before to reach your daily needs for this nutrient. Protein is also apparent in many kinds of cereal but usually appears in moderate amounts. Protein can also assist with reducing hunger later on in the day and is critical for repairing and building muscles, and skin. It even contributes to bone health.

Whether you indulge in cereal every morning or use it as a midday snack, you can rest assured knowing that healthy options are widely available. Highly processed varieties may be tasty but offer virtually no health benefits. Be sure to let us know what your favorite type of cereal is in the comments below!

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