Cereal is one of those tricky foods–some can be part of a nutritious breakfast while others can sneakily be spiked with sugar. In honor of National Cereal Day, here are 5 ways to upgrade your breakfast bowl:
1. Fill up on fiber. Fiber plays an important role not only in digestive health but in keeping you satiated and preventing large spikes in blood sugar after a meal.
Upgrade: Choose cereals that provide at least 7-8 grams of fiber per serving. For ideas, check out the 5-to-Try below.
2. Avoid added sugars. Even if your cereal passes the fiber test, it’s important to avoid those with lots of added sugars. Starting your day off with a spike in blood sugar sets you up for a day of blood sugar swings that can negatively impact your mood, hunger and food choices.
Upgrade: Choose cereals that not only meet the fiber minimum but also have 13 grams of sugar or less per serving. This will rule out a lot of the worst added-sugar offenders. To naturally add a little sweetness, see Upgrade #5.
3. Up the protein. Since cereals are predominantly grain-based, your morning bowl of bran flakes likely doesn’t contain adequate protein to keep you satiated very long–even with a cup of milk.
Upgrade: Add a tablespoon or two of nuts, or instead of drowning your cereal in milk, stir some into plain, low-fat Greek yogurt which contains about 22 grams of protein per cup.
4. Add Omega 3s. Omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol which are protective against heart disease. Little did you know that incorporating them into your breakfast can be cereaously easy.
Upgrade: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed on top of your morning bowl of cereal. It provides 1.8 grams of Omega 3 fats, which meets the DRI, and contains more Omega 3s than a 3-ounce serving of salmon.
5. Give your bowl a boost. Fresh fruit can bring a boring bowl of flakes to life by adding color and just a little bit of sweetness. What you may not realize though is adding fruit can also up the fiber and help you get in some extra vitamins and minerals each morning.
Upgrade: Add a half-cup of raspberries for 4 additional grams of fiber and more than 25% of your daily Vitamin C. A sliced banana will give you 12% of your daily potassium, 20% of your Vitamin B6 and an extra 3 grams of fiber.