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7 Tips for Choosing the Best Breakfast Cereal

4. Steer clear of sodium.

Even super-sweet cereals can have high amounts of sodium. “Some have more than 500 milligrams per serving -- a third of the day’s recommended limit for most people,” Smith says. 

Too much salt in your diet can raise blood pressure and make stroke and heart disease more likely. Choose a cereal that doesn’t have more than 220 mg a serving.

5. Keep sugar and fat in check.

Get ready for some sticker shock. One serving of some cereals has as much sugar as three chocolate chip cookies. 

Look for brands that have 10 grams or less per serving.

“Start your breakfast with too much sugar, and your glucose levels will rise too quickly,” Zanini says. "Keeping blood sugar stable throughout the day helps regulate your hunger and mood and prevents future complications from diabetes.” 

Cereals usually don't  have a lot of saturated fats (those that can make heart disease more likely), Smith says, but “you’ll still want to choose one that lists no more than 3 grams of fat.”

6. Add protein.

Try nonfat Greek yogurt, which has enough protein to help you feel full, Smith says. 

Need a nondairy alternative? Soy yogurt is an option. Some brands offer an impressive 8-10 grams of protein per serving.

If you're adding a yogurt topping, check the label to make sure it doesn't have too much sugar per serving.

7. Warm up.

Hot cereals are a great breakfast option. “Steel-cut oats, oat bran, millet, and quinoa are all whole grains, loaded with fiber, and if you don’t choose a flavored version, contain zero sugar,” says Lindsay Martin, RD, a dietitian at Hilton Head Health, a weight loss spa in Hilton Head, SC. 

Hot cereals also keep your appetite in check. In one study, people who ate oatmeal for breakfast felt fuller afterward than people who had dry cereal.

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Reviewed on July 08, 2014

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