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    Important Nutrients continued...

    A balanced cereal breakfast helps give you the energy to get your day off to a great start. And protein and fiber give it enough staying power to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

    Ready-to-eat cereals are usually fortified with nutrients like vitamin A, folate, iron, fiber, zinc, and magnesium -- nutrients that are typically lacking in the diets of many adults and children. The best part is that these nutrients are delivered for relatively few calories; most cereals have only 110-120 calories per serving.

    More Breakfast Benefits

    Eating breakfast is a healthy habit, whether you're in the boardroom or the classroom. Many studies have shown that both adults and children perform better when they start their day with breakfast.

    Further, many members of the National Weight Control Registry -- a group of people who have shed at least 30 pounds and maintained their new weights for at least a year -- swear by breakfast.

    In a survey of 2,959 members of this group, reported in Obesity Research, almost 90% reported eating breakfast most days of the week. Further, 60% said they always or usually ate cereal for breakfast. Breakfast appears to be part of the lifestyle that leads to successful weight loss and maintenance.

    How Sweet It Is

    I used to be obsessed with the amount of sugar in cereals. I would never purchase a box that had more than 5 grams of sugar per serving -- much to the chagrin of my kids. Then one day, I realized that even if a particular brand had more than my allowed grams of sugar, most contain 120 or fewer calories per serving. Sugar helps cereal taste good, and as long as the portion size is reasonable, the benefits of a cereal meal outweigh the added sugar, in my opinion.

    According to the NHANES findings, presweetened cereals provide only 5% of the total sugar in kids' diets and 2.3% of the sugar in adult diets. Clearly, most of the sugar we take in is coming from less nutritious foods such as soft drinks, candy, and other treats.

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