Here’s an easy way to find the healthiest breads and cereals you can. Number one, look for the words WHOLE GRAIN. Look at the first two ingredients, if one of those two doesn’t say WHOLE GRAIN, put it back! Number 2, look for the FDA-approved health claim that says “On a low-fat diet, whole foods can reduce the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.” Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? Now you have no more excuses when you are in the store. You can find healthy breads and cereals for you and your family.
Well, we know how to find whole foods, but even so, there is still a discrepancy between the amount of whole grains that must be in foods to be the healthiest. Take one more look at the nutrition declaration on the box. There are two things you really want to look for. Grams of fiber and grams of sugar. High in fiber and low in sugar is the best option. So what is high in fiber, what is low in sugar? Typically, the FDA will only place its approval mark on foods that are good or excellent sources of fiber. A good source of fiber has 6 to 10 grams of fiber per serving. An excellent source of fiber has 16 grams or more of fiber per serving. Using this as a guide, you only need to eat 3 servings from an excellent source of fiber, or 6 from the good sources of fiber. When it comes to sugar, you should eat foods with 2 grams or less of sugar per serving. The more sugar in your servings, the less fiber you have. The more fiber, the less sugar. Let’s look at a new trend that General Mills is developing. Grab the new Low Sugar Whole Grain Cinnamon Toast Crunch. We need to look at both pictures to compare this. Here are the statistics for regular cereals. 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 crunchy cinnamon toast, then this will be better than the original. But does it compare to our new knowledge? NOT! 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. However, they managed to make it look better on paper, or cardboard to be exact. How about one of those healthy cereals? Let’s take a look at Kashi GoLean Crunch. It says seven whole grains, 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 nutrition facts on the box, the first set of ingredients is whole oats, long grain brown rice, whole rye, hard red winter whole wheat, whole triticale, whole buckwheat, whole barley and sesame seeds. The second item is the soy protein concentrate and the third item is the evaporated cane juice, followed by the brown rice syrup. So we are improving our choices here. Even with the high sugar content, which is all natural by the way, they have whole grains and multiple grains. I’m not saying natural sugar is much better for you, but at least it’s not the refined white sugar we see so often. These natural sugars will continue to affect your blood sugar levels, but will take slightly longer than refined sugar. Put this cereal next to our new set of standards and how does it compare? Well, fiber is doing well for us, added protein is a nice addition, however sugar is still above the recommended health benefit. It’s good for you? It’s even better than low-sugar whole grain crunchy cinnamon toast, but you’ll have 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 decisions available. If you are afraid that eating healthier will make you work like a slave in the kitchen, you must realize that there are many products that are good for you and easy to fix. Take, for example, the Grinin Grains line. Homemade batches of muffin mix, pancake mix, waffle mixes and cereal mixes. These are made in small batches using whole grain and pride themselves on the wholesomeness of their product. Breads, cereals, pasta, and even baked goods are beginning to appear and make the switch to provide a healthier food option for your family. Shouldn’t you try to do the same?