Cereal may sometimes be a healthy part of your breakfast, but it can also be a high-calorie mistake. Often the healthy claims of this breakfast food aren’t even necessarily true unless you include milk, juice and an additional side, which may prove too much for you to eat in the morning. Also, if you choose the wrong variety of cereals, you could wind up doing more harm to your body than good. In order to avoid this, pay attention to these tips to make this breakfast food healthier.
1. Look for Whole Grain, Low-Sugar
The first step to making your cereal healthier is to pick the right variety. Pass up the sugar-coated cereals and look for a variety made with whole grains without added sugars. Oats, barley, wheat, bran and other whole grains are high in fiber and can help regulate your digestive system. Just make sure there are no refined grains listed in the ingredients, such as corn meal, wheat flour or milled corn. Even some cereals that claim to be “whole grain” may actually include these and other refined grains.
2. Choose a Healthy Milk or Milk Substitute
You can add a lot of fat to your breakfast, even with an otherwise low-fat cereal, simply with your choice of milk. If you eat cereals dry, you won’t have a problem, but choosing the right milk or milk substitute can actually make your breakfast healthier. If you choose milk, choose skim milk, which is high in calcium but not in fat. If you don’t want to use milk, you can use soy milk, which is high in protein and can help lower your cholesterol. Perhaps a bit more creatively, you can use low-fat, no-sugar-added yogurt instead, which can help improve your digestive system and provide you with a number of vitamins and minerals. (Just be aware that the yogurt is more filling than milk, so mix it with less of your cereals.)
3. Add Fruit
Fruits are one of the healthiest foods available because they’re rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and they make a great addition to most any cereal. Berries are easy to wash and add to your bowl, but you can also chop up larger fruits, such as bananas, apples and pears. Fruits are naturally sweet but low in fat, so they can add a lot of flavor to an otherwise bland breakfast without making you gain weight.
4. Add a Dash of Cinnamon or Nutmeg
By adding about a half a tablespoon of cinnamon or nutmeg to your cereal, you can sweeten your breakfast without adding a significant amount of calories. These spices may also have the added health benefits of lowering your risk for heart disease, helping reduce stress, regulating blood pressure and possibly lowering your risk for some types of cancers. They both go well with most any type of no-sugar-added whole-grain cereal.
5. Add Nuts
As long as you use no-salt-added nuts, adding nuts to your cereal is an easy, delicious way to get some essential vitamins and minerals, such as protein. Nuts can help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly and may also help lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.