Are breakfast cereals healthy?
Breakfast cereals can no longer be ignored in our diet. The heyday of bacon and eggs has given way to breakfast cereals of all kinds for young and old. For the children, breakfast cereals are quite an experience in itself. A character or action hero is connected to each taste, which does not make the endless choice any easier. And adults are also happy with this quick and tasty breakfast. But are breakfast cereals healthy?
What do we mean by cereal?
It is a broad term that is used as a collective term for cereal products that are usually eaten for breakfast. An obvious, but above all broad definition. There are many different types of breakfast cereals.
There are several types of grain that are used: wheat, corn, oats, buckwheat. Most grains contain healthy nutrients such as fiber, various B vitamins, and the minerals iodine, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc. But on the other hand, they are very high in carbohydrates. And many grains such as wheat contain gluten, which is not always well tolerated.
In addition, the preparation method of breakfast cereals varies from raw to roasting and baking. But the greatest impact on health comes from the added ingredients. Because this is so different per type, it is useful to highlight each category of breakfast cereals separately. Let’s go!
Is cornflakes healthy?
Cornflakes are basically made from corn. This is boiled, rolled out and then dried or roasted. Corn is a grain and contains, among other things, vitamin C and the minerals potassium and magnesium. Sounds pretty healthy as long as you take the high amount of carbohydrates into account . But for those who have an active day ahead, this energy is more than welcome.
The problem is that these cornflakes are often flavored with different ingredients, such as sugar and honey. All these added sugars provide unnecessary calories and contain hardly any healthy nutrients.
Many of these cereals are also aimed at children. By cornflakes, we often also mean puffed rice products and wheat-based breakfast cereals. Just think of chocopops and honeypops. Here the same principle applies that the base is relatively healthy (eg rice). However, due to the amount of sugar that is added, it is more correct to view this “food” as candy.
Is granola healthy?
The same trick is often used in adults. Manufacturers promote granola as a healthy and full-fledged breakfast. The base consists of relatively healthy ingredients such as cereal flakes, nuts, seeds, pieces of chocolate and dried fruit. If you’re lucky, it even contains superfoods such as goiji berries.
Unfortunately, granola is usually prepared with additional sweeteners such as sugar and honey. And sometimes also fats such as vegetable oils. This creates an unnecessary abundance of fast sugars and unhealthy fats. You can therefore no longer call most granolas from the supermarket healthy.
If you search carefully, it is possible to find granola that uses very little honey and a limited amount of healthy fats such as coconut oil. You can also make granola with whipped egg whites or aquafaba (chickpea liquid). So we certainly cannot label all granola as unhealthy.
Granola’s mean stepsister is cruesli. Cruesli is actually more or less the same as granola. However, the grain flakes are baked or roasted even more abundantly in sugar and oil. The amount of added sugar can sometimes reach 20%. With so much fast sugar, this “food” falls under the fast-food category!
Is muesli healthy?
Fortunately, there is still the option of muesli. Muesli consists of unprocessed cereal flakes. They are therefore not enriched with sugar or fat, nor baked. Just like granola, a muesli mix contains different types of nuts, seeds and kernels, and dried fruit. Sometimes coconut grater or cinnamon is also added. Muesli is therefore quite healthy and for most people a better alternative than granola.
Unfortunately, muesli is not crispy and has a drier and blander taste. Well, you will have to make a choice. Fortunately, you can also combine muesli with fresh fruit, which makes it less dry and gives a fresh touch to your healthy breakfast.
Finally, there is breakfast porridge such as Brinta and Bambix, made from different types of grains. And of course, we should not forget oatmeal. These breakfast cereals are relatively healthy, just like bread and other grain products. But unfortunately, they are also much more monotonous in taste. Just like muesli, you can of course add all kinds of healthy toppings yourself.
How do you choose healthy breakfast cereals?
Obviously, there are many different categories of cereal. Some only contain grains, nuts, and seeds, while others contain so much sugar that you should class them as fast food. Here are some tips for a healthy choice:
- Ignore the marketing: The names on the packaging are very misleading. The term “healthy granola” has little meaning.
- Check for sugars: Check the ingredients list to see if sugars have been added. Then check the nutritional value for what percentage of sugar it contains. It may be that there are no added sugars, but a lot of dried fruit. As a result, the amount of sugar can still be very high.
- View the type of fat used: Most commercial granola uses vegetable oils such as palm oil and sunflower oil. These contain a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, of which most of us already get too much. Depending on the rest of your diet, it is, therefore, wise to opt for breakfast cereals with, for example, coconut oil.
- Choose whole grains: The health of breakfast cereals largely depends on the added sugars. But we must not forget the quality of the grains. If you can opt for whole grain, you will provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Check the additives: Especially the cornflakes that are promoted for children often contain a lot of additives. Just think of the dyes used to make yellow, green, red, or blue cornflakes. Those colors really don’t come from fresh fruit.