Choosing a Breakfast Cereal continued...
But not all cereals are alike, says Somer. Choosing the wrong one can mean you miss out on some of the nutritional payback. So what should you look for?
First on Somers' own list is fiber: "A good breakfast cereal should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving or more," she says.
While we may be swayed by claims of vitamins and minerals, or by healthy-sounding phrases like "all -natural" or "multigrain," experts say these things have little meaning if the fiber isn't adequate.
Next, check the sugar and sodium content. Somer says the healthiest cereals have 4 grams of sugar or less per serving. Heller believesays the sodium should be under 200 grams per serving.
And, the experts remind us, don't overlook the fat content. Yes, there can be lots in some cereals. "Granola and other mixes can be loaded with palm and coconut oil -- not only high in fat, but also high in trans fat," says Somer. Her recommendation: choose cereals with no more than 2 grams of fat per serving.
While you may be tempted to munch your cereal dry during your drive to work, take five minutes at the breakfast table and add fresh or frozen fruit, and drench those flakes in skim or low-fat milk.
"Now you've got the perfect combo of protein and carbohydrate - the carbohydrates will fuel your brain and your muscles, the protein will keep you satiated - plus, if people don't have milk for breakfast, they hardly ever make up their calcium later in the day," says Somer.
Bagels, Muffins, Waffles, and Toast
If you're just not a cereal kind of person, you can find some healthful breakfast choices on the bakery aisle if you read the labels before you buy.
"This means not only paying attention to all the ingredients -- like sugar, sodium, and fat -- but also the calories as they pertain to the portion size," says Klein.
For example, while a bran muffin can be a good source of fiber, Somer says, a portion is 1 ounce. But the average muffin is 7 ounces.