Are Breakfast Cereals Healthy Or Unhealthy?

Eating breakfast cereals in the morning is very common, but many people wonder whether it is also healthy. Are you ready for the answer? Read on to find out!

Are breakfast cereals healthy or unhealthy?

Eating breakfast cereal in the morning is common in many households. But is this a healthy or unhealthy practice?

Well it depends.

There are many different ways to enjoy breakfast cereals, be it with milk, yogurt or plant-based alternatives. Some are made with corn while others are made with rice or oatmeal. Some even contain chocolate or a number of other popular ingredients.

According to some organizations, cereals such as oats, rice, wheat and corn are high in nutritional value because they contain protein, carbohydrates, natural fats and fiber.

However, these cereals lose their nutritional properties as soon as they are refined by the food industry prior to packaging. This means that the difference between a whole grain muesli and conventional supermarket breakfast cereals lies in the manufacturing process.

Types of Breakfast Cereal: The Healthy and the Unhealthy

Processed breakfast cereals have their origins in the vegetarian movement of the last quarter of the 19th century (at least according to an article published in the magazine Ministerio de Agricultura, GanaderĂ­a y Pesca de Argentina). A wide variety of them are made today.

The many different types of breakfast cereal include, for example:

  • Flakes: Made from refined flours, they contain salt, sugar, malt, and other ingredients. They’re usually fortified with vitamins and minerals to make up for this.
  • Popped: This type is made with the help of compressed air and is light and crispy compared to other varieties.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grain breakfast cereals are high in fiber.
  • Muesli: A mixture of different types of grain (e.g. oats, puffed rice, corn or wheat), nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.) and dried fruits (raisins, apples, bananas, coconuts …)
  • Porridge: Cooked porridge, with other ingredients if necessary
Oatmeal in bags
Oatmeal is an important breakfast for many people around the world.

Is it healthy or unhealthy to eat breakfast cereal in the morning?

Eating breakfast cereals in the morning is only healthy if they are made from whole grain cereals. Regular consumption of conventional, packaged breakfast cereals, on the other hand, is not healthy. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the differences between the two variants.

Whole grain breakfast cereals

Whole grain breakfast cereals made from oats, rye, barley, corn, wheat or brown rice provide vitamins, minerals and nutrients that the body needs. They also contain fiber – which performs various functions in the body and is therefore very useful.

Some other grains are not grains, such as quinoa, amaranth, or buckwheat, and are also very nutritious.

Packaged breakfast cereals

As mentioned earlier, packaged breakfast cereals are usually made from refined grains. They also have excess other ingredients that make them junk food.

According to scientific evidence, companies manufacture these products by:

  • Process the grains with white flour,
  • then add other ingredients such as sugar, cocoa or water,
  • then subject the mixture to an extrusion process in which a machine forms the grain using high temperature,
  • and finally shape the dough into balls, stars, rings, flakes or rectangles and dry them.

So, as you can see, packaged breakfast cereals are highly processed foods that contain too much sugar and no fiber.

The health benefits of whole grain breakfast cereals

These depend on which cereal you eat for breakfast. You can either eat whole grains, such as oatmeal, or the packaged breakfast cereals mentioned above.

They prevent constipation and promote overall health

Fruit and seed oatmeal is a healthy option because it contains vitamins, amino acids, and fiber that are good for the liver and heart. In addition, oatmeal and other grains provide fiber, which stimulates bowel movements and helps prevent constipation.

They provide vitamins and minerals

Whole grain cereals provide micronutrients such as vitamin A, folic acid and minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper. This strengthens the immune system.

They provide healthy fats and lower bad cholesterol

Grains like buckwheat and quinoa contain essential omega-3 fatty acids. They also provide protein (which contributes to satiety) and fiber. These ingredients help lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, and prevent diseases such as diabetes.

They help maintain a healthy weight

Good quality foods high in fiber and protein will keep you from overeating and snacking. Because of this, they are ideal for maintaining a healthy weight.

Packaged breakfast cereals: the healthy and the unhealthy

Breakfast cereals with fruit
Whole grain and natural breakfast cereals are better breakfast choices than their packaged, refined alternatives.

Of course, it’s better to eat whole grain breakfast cereals with minimal processing. However, if you do need to eat the packaged varieties, choose one that doesn’t have excessive sugar or added chemicals.

Make sure your packaged breakfast cereals contain:

  • No more than 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates per serving
  • Less than 250 milligrams of sodium
  • At least 25% minerals like calcium or iron (i.e. fortified)
  • At least three grams of fiber
  • A maximum of eight grams of white sugar
  • Less than three grams of fat

Read the nutritional information to help you choose the best quality product possible. If the first ingredients listed are sugar, fats, or refined oils, you shouldn’t use them more often.

Are breakfast cereals healthy or unhealthy?

In order to determine whether a cereal is healthy or unhealthy, you have to look at it critically. Keep in mind, however, that the occasional consumption of processed foods, be it packaged breakfast cereals or a whole grain cereal, usually does not lead to specific health problems. It mainly depends on the frequency and the amount in which you consume the respective products.

Your breakfast is considered healthy as long as you choose natural whole grains such as oats, puffed rice (with no added sugar), quinoa, popped amaranth or muesli.

Also, keep in mind that each of your meals should contain high quality nutrients. So stick to natural or minimally processed products whenever you can.

So what do you think Are your morning cereal healthy or unhealthy?

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