Breakfast Cereal Guide 1O1: Choosing the Healthiest Option

Hey there! Are you a breakfast lover but confused about which cereal to choose for a healthy start to your day? Well, worry no more because we’ve got you covered with our amazing Breakfast Cereal Guide 1O1! 

This comprehensive guide ranks the most popular breakfast cereals based on their nutritional value, including essential information on calories, sugar, fibre, protein, and much more.

Let’s face it – cereals have been a staple in our diets since forever. From rice to oatmeal, chapati to bread, we consume them in different forms across the globe. But have you ever wondered about the differences between them and what makes them so nutritious? 

If you’re curious about these questions, our guide will take you on a journey through various cereals and whole grains, exploring their nutritional values and impressive health claims.

So, what are you waiting for? Say goodbye to the confusion and make healthier choices for your breakfast with the Breakfast Cereal Guide 1O1. Go ahead and give it a read now!

What are Cereals?

Cereals
Source: Canva

Cereals belong to the Gramineae grass family and are edible seeds or grains. They are considered staple foods in many countries. 

Whole grains are packed with nutrients like dietary fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Refined forms of these grains usually lose these nutrients during processing making them an empty carb-rich food.

Different Types of Cereals

1. Wheat

Wheat

It is one of the most popularly consumed cereal grains globally. Wheat is primarily composed of carbs. 

Unrefined whole wheat also contains dietary fibre, protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients like folate, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. Therefore, to enjoy its health benefits, one must prefer taking whole wheat-based products over refined ones. 

Wheat bran and germ possess rich antioxidant properties because of plant compounds like ferulic acid, lutein, and lignans. 

Wheat comprises a protein called gluten; hence not recommended for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and allergy. 

2. Oat

Oat

This super healthy gluten-free cereal is highly nutritious and packed with several minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Soluble dietary fibre, beta-glucans, and antioxidants called avenanthramides account for the major health benefits of oats. 

Oats are available in various forms and flavours like steel-cut, instant oats, etc. One can relish them by adding them to porridges, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods.

3. Rice

Rice

Rice is the staple food in many countries like India, Japan, and China. It is mainly composed of carbs with little protein and negligible fat. 

Thousands of rice varieties exist with difference in shape, colour, and size, but white and brown rice are most commonly consumed. Both are favourable for our health when taken as a part of a balanced meal. 

4. Maize

Maize

Whole grain corn or maize is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 

Corn is mainly enjoyed as sweet corn or popcorn. However, refined form is prevalent in packaged foods like tortilla chips, cornflour, and corn oil. 

Maize is considered good for eye health as it has two carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin. Additionally, it is a good source of nutrients like manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper, potassium, vitamin B5, and B6. 

Hence, a moderate intake of corn or maize may prove beneficial for our health.

5. Quinoa

Quinoa

This pseudocereal has recently gained popularity among superfood grains. 

Quinoa has high protein and fibre content as compared to many other grains. It is gluten-free and high in vitamins and minerals like folate, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese. 

Quinoa may prove an intelligent carb choice, especially if you aim to lose weight.  

6. Rye

Rye

Rye is a powerhouse of antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins. It is consumed in many forms like rye seeds, sprouted rye, and rye flour. 

Rye grains are good for heart health as their high soluble fiber content promotes healthy cholesterol levels and reduces bile secretion. 

If you are a fan of bread, you can replace refined flour bread with rye bread. Rye is not suggested for people on gluten-free diets.

7. Barley

Barley is a gluten-containing whole grain packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds. 

Barley has been shown to benefit our blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Its high soluble fiber content keeps our gut healthy by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of gut-friendly bacteria. 

It is available in many forms like flour, grits, and flakes. If you enjoy barley, try consuming it in sprouted or soaked form, as it helps reduce the anti-nutrient level and enhances barley nutrient absorption.

8. Millet

Millet

Millets are small and round whole grains known for their high protein, antioxidants, and fiber content. Common millets widely consumed globally are pear millet, Kodo millet, barnyard millet, and finger (ragi) millet.

Millets are healthy and can be a part of gluten-free diets as well. They have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and lower the risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes.

Like barley, millets should also be preferred in soaked or sprouted form to reap maximum benefits.

9. Sorghum

Sorghum
close up of Jowar (Sorghum) with wooden spoon.; Shutterstock ID 278569178; PO: today – food

Sorghum may not be a widely consumed cereal, but it is power-packed with nutrients. It comes in various forms and colours like white, orange, tan, red, black, and brown. 

Sorghum is gluten-free and a rich source of magnesium and various antioxidants. It can help reduce inflammation, manage weight, relieve constipation and stabilise blood lipid and sugar levels. One can cook it like rice or quinoa or use it in a flour form.

10. Buckwheat

Sorghum

This pseudocereal is high in carbs with decent dietary fibre, making it suitable for our gut health. 

This grain is not associated with wheat and is gluten-free despite its name. Manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium are some minerals present in buckwheat. 

Buckwheat is safe for people with diabetes due to its low glycemic index. Though it does not cause any adverse effects, people with buckwheat allergy must refrain from consuming it.

Types of Breakfast Cereals

Types of Breakfast Cereals
  • Muesli: It contains a mixture of different grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. 
  • Granola: The ingredients of granola are almost similar to muesli. The only distinction is that they are baked and may contain some sweeteners like sugar or honey. 
  • Bran Cereal: They usually contain wheat bran flakes. One can take bran cereal with milk or add it to smoothies or yoghurt to increase the dietary fibre content of the diet healthily and effectively. 
  • Cornflakes: This breakfast cereal contains flattened flakes of corn or maize. It may contain sugar, malt, or salt added as flavour enhancers.  
  • Wheat Flakes: These are made by flattening whole wheat with bran, making them more fibre-rich.  
  • Oat Cereal: Another popular healthy breakfast cereal loaded with nutrients. Oat cereal comes in various forms like oat flakes, groats, instant oats, and steel-cut oats.
  • Fortified Cereals: They contain whole grains fortified with nutrients that are not naturally present in the ingredients present, like vitamin D, A, folate, and iron. It is done to enhance the nutritional value and minimise deficiency risk.

Nutritional Value of Cereals (per 100 gms)

NAME OF CEREAL/ MILLETENERGY (kcal)PROTEINS (g)CARBS (g)FATS (g)
Whole Wheat32210.664.71.5
Oat39714.2668.5
Brown Rice3549.274.81.2
Maize (dry)3348.864.73.8
Quinoa32813.153.65.5
Barley31610.961.31.3
Sorghum (Jowar)3349.967.71.7
Ragi3217.266.81.9
Bajra34810.961.25.4
Buckwheat35910.369.51.2

Source: ICMR Nutritive Value of Indian Foods

What are the Health Benefits of Cereals?

Health Benefits of Cereals
Source: Canva

1. Rich in Nutrients

Whole-grain cereals contain a higher content of essential nutrients like B-vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc., than refined ones.

One must prefer breakfast cereals, pasta, or bread made with whole-grain ingredients to enjoy the dual benefit of taste and health.

2. Energy Dense

Whole-grain cereals are an abundant source of energy. The best part is that whole-grain cereals contain complex carbs and dietary fibre, making them suitable for our digestive and gut health. The high fibre promotes energy supply for a longer duration and prevents instant insulin spikes. 

3. Healthy Heart Functioning

Whole grain cereals contain heart health-boosting nutrients like folic acid, dietary fibre, vitamin B6, and E.

They have been shown to reduce the risk of heart failure, which was revealed in a study conducted in 1999. Researchers found that people including whole grain cereals in their diet are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases. 

4. Support Weight Loss

Whole grain cereals can help you with weight loss and weight management. They are one of the primary sources of complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Studies also support that whole-grain intake is inversely associated with BMI and improved body composition and waist to hip ratio5 .

5. Reduce Diabetes Risk

The presence of dietary fibre, magnesium, antioxidants, and certain plant compound content makes whole grains excellent for people with diabetes. Meeting daily carbohydrate requirements by including whole grains in the diet is a perfect approach to keeping blood sugar levels in control, preventing sudden glucose spikes, and improving glucose metabolism.

6. Promote Healthy Digestion

Whole grains provide the gastrointestinal tract with more fibre, thus helping maintain gastrointestinal function. Various components in whole grain cereals act synergistically to help improve bowel function, protect against gastrointestinal cancers and inflammation, strengthen barrier function, and provide immune support.

Are There Any Known Side Effects of Cereals?

Whole grain cereals are incredibly healthy, yet a few checkpoints must be considered while including them in the regular diet.

  • Cereals are packed with carbohydrates; therefore, one must avoid overconsumption as it can lead to excess calorie intake and obesity.
  • If you are fond of breakfast cereals, read the ingredient list and nutrition facts carefully. Check the sugar and sodium content, sweeteners, and preservatives added. Prefer the ones made with whole ingredients without artificial ingredients, and watch the portion size.
  • People with celiac disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and gluten-free diets should avoid wheat, rye, triticale, and barley-based products.

Top 5 Healthy Cereal Brands Available in India

  1. Kellogg’s Muesli 0% added sugar
  2. Quaker Oats 100% Natural Wholegrain
  3. Baggry’s Muesli No Added Sugar
  4. Whole Truth Foods Breakfast Muesli – Nuts, Fruits & Seeds
  5. YogaBar Steel Cut Oats

You Can Add These Tasty and Healthy Toppings for Your Breakfast Cereals

  1. Nut butter like peanut butter and almond butter
  2. Nuts and Seeds
  3. Dried Fruits
  4. Fresh fruits like bananas, berries, pomegranates, apples, etc.
  5. Honey
  6. Cocoa powder
  7. Cinnamon

Bottom Line

Source: Canva

So with our Breakfast Cereal Guide 1O1, you can make informed choices about the healthiest cereal options available to you. Cereals are an essential part of our diet and are loaded with vital nutrients that provide numerous health benefits. 

However, it’s crucial to be mindful of portion size and added sugars when selecting your cereal. You can also enhance the nutritional value of your cereal by adding healthy toppings such as nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits. 

Go, grab your bowl of healthy cereal and kickstart your day with energy and vitality!

What is the difference between cereals and pulses?

Cereals are the edible components of grains, and they belong to the grass family. In comparison, pulses belong to the leguminous family and are edible seeds of the plant. Cereals are high in carbs, whereas pulses are rich in proteins, amino acids, and micronutrients.

Are breakfast cereals healthy?

Breakfast cereals containing whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits without any added sugar and artificial additives are a super healthy option to start your day.

Which is the healthiest breakfast cereal?

One can choose from a wide variety of healthy breakfast cereal options available in the market free from artificial colour, added sugar, and any harmful contaminants.

Does cereal make you gain weight?

Cereals are high in calories and, if consumed more than the required amount, can result in weight gain.

How much cereal is healthy to eat per day?

An adult can consume 35-40 grams of cereal per day depending upon everyday needs.

Are cereals safe for gluten intolerant people?

Packaged cereals containing gluten-free grains are safe for gluten-intolerant people. However, it is always better to read the warnings and allergen info mentioned on the pack before buying.

Are there any gluten-free cereals?

Some super-healthy gluten-free cereals are quinoa, jowar, oats, bajra, buckwheat, corn, brown rice, teff, and amaranth. 

Are cereals good for health?

Whole grain cereals are good for our health and have been shown to help manage blood glucose and cholesterol levels, reduce cancer risk and promote overall well-being.

Which is the best cereal for weight loss?

People aiming to lose weight can opt for oats, whole wheat flakes, bran cereal, and muesli without added sugar.

What is the best cereal of all time?

Many good breakfast cereals are available in the market containing whole grains without any unwanted fillers.

Is it healthy to mix cereal for breakfast? 

Yes, one can enjoy a mix of different cereals for breakfast and top them with fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds to enhance their nutritional value.

Why do healthy cereals have more calories than unhealthy cereals?

Unhealthy cereals usually have high sugar content and fillers making them calorie-rich. In contrast, healthy breakfast cereals focus on dietary fiber and other health-boosting nutrients.

Is having cereals with milk in breakfast a healthy option?

One can enjoy cereals with milk or yogurt. But if you are not a fan of dairy, you can replace milk with water, almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, and vegan yogurt.

Is eating cereals in the morning as breakfast good for health?

There is no harm in starting your day with a bowl of healthy breakfast cereal. It should not be highly processed and should not contain refined grains and added sugar.

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