Articles on cereals

Breakfast Cereals: How Healthy Are They

Dr. Rekha Gupta, Dietitian/Nutritionist
We are always in hurry to reach our work or school in the morning, Cold cereals come handy and easy to have for breakfast. We believe that these cereals are healthy and have all the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins we require to maintain a good health.But are these cereals really as healthy as we think them to be or are claimed to be?I am trying to look in detail into these breakfast cereals and their effect on our health.What Is Breakfast Cereal?Breakfast cereal is made from processed grain. It is often eaten with milk, yogurt, fruit or nuts.Breakfast cereal is often fortified with vitamins and minerals. This means that nutrients are added to make it more nutritious .Here’s how breakfast cereals are typically made:Processing: The grains are usually processed into fine flour and cooked.Mixing: The flour is then mixed with ingredients like sugar, chocolate and water.Extrusion: Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion. This is a high-temperature process that uses a machine to shape the cereal.Drying: Next, the cereal is dried.Shaping: Finally, the cereal is shaped into forms, such as balls, stars, loops or rectangles.Breakfast cereals may also be puffed, flaked or shredded. The cereal may also be coated in chocolate or frosting before it is dried.When we look at the labels we often see refined grains and sugars. Actually these are misleading as they have very small quantity of whole grains in them which cannot negate the effect of unhealthy ingredients in them.But the problem is that people believe that they are very healthy because of lack of knowledge. If you try cornflakes in milk it tastes sweet without adding the sugar why because it is already loaded with refined sugars.Keep in mind that truly healthy foods don’t even need health claims.Children are the target for selling these cerealsThe manufacturers of these cereals generally target the children with different colors , cartoon shapes and flavours. The children associate cereal time as a fun and entertainment time. These are leading to child obesity which is a big problem these days.If you have to buy breakfast cereals anyhow then keep these points while purchasing themIf you really must eat cereal for breakfast, then there are some tips to help you select a healthier (or “less unhealthy”) breakfast cereal.See the Sugar content: Choose a breakfast cereal that contains less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. Read the food label to find out how much sugar the product contains. It should have High Fiber: Breakfast cereals that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving are optimal. Eating enough fiber can have numerous benefits for health (14).Pay Attention To PortionsBreakfast cereals tend to be crunchy and tasty, and it can be very easy to consume large amounts of calories. Measure how much you are eating and use the serving size information on the packaging for guidance.Read the Ingredients ListIgnore the health claims on the front of the box, and make sure to check the ingredients list. The first two or three ingredients are the most important, as the product contains the most of these.If sugar is listed several times under different names, even if it is not in the first three spots, then the product is probably very high in sugar.Add Some ProteinProtein is the most filling macronutrient. It increases fullness and reduces appetite.A tablespoon of nuts, seeds or some Greek yogurt are good choices for extra protein.Eat Breakfast for sure , But Choose Unprocessed OptionsIf you are hungry in the morning, you should eat breakfast. However, it is best to choose whole, single-ingredient foods.Here are a few great choices:Oatmeal with raisins and nuts.Greek yogurt with nuts and sliced fruit.Scrambled eggs with vegetables.Wheat daliya with milk or vegetablesVegetable oatsSprouts with vegetables etcWhole eggs are an excellent breakfast choice. They are high in protein and healthy fats, as well as loaded with nutrients They keep you full for a long time, and may also be a good choice for people who want to lose weight.Do eat breakfast . Have eggs or high protein options. They keep you full and help you to reduce weight.Take home messageBreakfast cereals are highly processed. They contain loads of added sugar and refined carbs. They are also often marketed with highly misleading labels.If you must eat breakfast cereal, make sure to read the ingredients list and be wary of front label health claims. Choose cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar.However, there are many healthier breakfast options to choose from. Start with whole, single-ingredient foods. Eggs are a great choice.Preparing a healthy breakfast from whole foods doesn’t have to take a long time, either — you only need 5–10 more minutes in the morning.Just wake up a little earlier, and take the time to start your day with a nutritious meal.Stay healthy and blessed!!!

Are Corn Flakes Healthy or Fattening?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
When people think of a healthy breakfast cereal, they often think of cornflakes and milk. Breakfast is good for you but what is odd is the association of cornflakes with health. Cornflakes are not exactly a health food, and we will show you why.The base ingredient of cornflakes is corn. Sugar, malt flavouring, and high fructose corn syrup are the other major ingredients of corn flakes, and most of them have a high content of Glycemic Index. As Indians, we already have the ‘belly gene’, and are prone to diabetes. So consumption of high GI carbohydrates only increases that risk. To ensure whether corn flakes are really healthy or not, let’s go through their nutritional analysis.Calories and Nutrition in Corn FlakesQuantity CarbohydratesSugarProteinFibreCalories1 cup (25 gm)21.7 gm3 gm1.7 gmLow95The low protein content in corn flakes will not keep you full for a longer period. They might be low in fat but the sugar content promotes fat storage. Some breakfast cereal advertisements might show that corn flakes help you lose weight, but they only expect you to eat limited quantity of corn flakes for all your meals.Can Cornflakes Make You Gain Weight?Corn flakes contain sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. This kind of sugar is basically a simple carbohydrate that belongs to a class of chemically-related sweet-flavoured substances. Many people add sugar or honey to their corn flakes along with milk to add flavour. This only increases the sugar content of the cereal, putting you at a higher risk of gaining weight.Even though our cells need sugar (glucose) to survive, consuming too much of it can cause numerous health problems. Added sugar contains no beneficial nutrients and excess consumption only contributes to tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity.Scientifically Speaking: The American Heart Association (AHA) have said that added sugars “contribute zero nutrients” and are just empty calories “that can lead to extra kilos, or even obesity, thereby reducing heart health.”In early 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for a reduction in daily sugar intake to 5% of total daily calories in order to tackle public health problems, such as obesity and tooth decay.Can Corn Flakes Promote Diabetes?Processed foods with more sugar content come under the category of high glycemic food, thus increasing the chances of diabetes. Unfortunately, the glycemic index of corn flakes is very high i.e. 82.High glycemic index form of carbohydrate present in corn flakes produces high concentrations of blood glucose levels. This increases insulin demand and contributes to the high risk of type 2 diabetes.Therefore, it won’t be inappropriate to say that corn flakes are not healthy. They can aggravate many health problems like diabetes, heart problem and most lifestyle diseases that are linked to obesity.Healthy Alternatives for CornflakesIf you really enjoy your breakfast cereal then we recommend you to switch to wheat flakes or oatmeal. You can improve the nutrient quality of your breakfast cereal with some low fat milk. Add a dose of vitamins, fibre and antioxidants with fruits like berries, apples or bananas. Protein rich foods are known to increase insulin secretion and your blood sugar will be normal. So, add some nuts for protein, healthy fats and fibre.This way you can enjoy a delicious breakfast cereal without making any compromise on your health.

Flaxseed and Its Health Benefits

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
The tiny seeds add not much of calories to the body and are low in carbohydrates but are full of vitamins, minerals, essential omega fatty acids and antioxidants that keep many health problems away keeping you healthy.You could include flax seed in your diet on cereals and salads and include it in yogurt and shakes. You could eat it directly or eat in combination. Flaxseeds contain health fighting properties and is beneficial for weight loss. Below are health benefits of flaxseed.- Cardio-protective: Due to presence of high content of alpha linolenic acids (ALA) a type of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid, flax seed is known to have cardio-protective benefits Flax seeds aid in lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol levels and may also keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack.- Controls Blood Glucose Levels: Fiber present in flax seed helps stabilize blood sugar. A recent study demonstrated Lowering of blood sugar levels by 28% an hour after eating flax seed.- Cancer Fighting: Flaxseeds are high in lignans, (a phytoestrogen) and in alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which are found to be promising as a cancer fighting agent. Flax seed's high fiber aspect is also beneficial in the fighting against colon cancer. Lignan metabolites can bind to estrogen receptors, hence inhibiting the onset of estrogen-stimulated breast cancer Lignans are known to promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent breast cancer.- Prevents Constipation: Flax is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Flaxseed promotes regular bowel movements and helps to absorb water, thereby softening the stool and allowing it to pass through the colon quickly.-  Boost Immunity: A study in Nutrition Journal stated that eating flax daily favorably affects immunity, the body’s ability to defend itself successfully against micro-organisms. Lignans and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), affect immune cells and compounds that control immune reaction.- Mood-Enhancer: Flaxseed has a mood boosting ingredient: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is essential for the proper function of brain cells. Flax seed decreases risk of Alzheimer’s due to presence of Omege-3 fatty acids.

Health Benefits of Eating Sorghum

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Sorghum is the nutritious cereal which makes healthy diet. It is cooked as porridge for breakfast or along with other dishes. It is rich in vitamin and minerals and has many health benefits. It is gluten free and contains lot of dietary fiber helpful in digestion and making you feel fuller. Read to know about importance of fiber.Nutrition of SorghumSorghum is rich in potassium and phosphorus. It has good amount of calcium with small amounts of iron and sodium. Sorghum has good amount of thiamine and niacin with small amounts of riboflavin. Eating 100 gm of sorghum give 339 calories. The protein and starch in grain sorghum are more slowly digested than other cereals, and slower rates of digestibility are particularly beneficial for diabetics.Sorghum starch is gluten-free.Get more information on wonder foods for diabetics.Health Benefits of SorghumSorghum makes a healthy diet since it is gluten-free diet.It is good in treatment of celiac disease and allergy from eating wheat.It keeps bones and teeth healthy giving energy to the body.It also maintains the health of heart, controls diabetes, arthritis and weight of the body.According to whole grains council-considering lot more researchers, they have listed down some health benefits of eating sorghum.1.Sorghum protect against diabetes and insulin resistance.2.Eating this grain inhibit the cancer tumor growth.3. It may help manage cholesterol.4. It is one the safe food for people who are suffering from celiac disease. 

Quinoa - the Super Food

Dr. Zarna Shah, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Fast filling the grocery counters in American households, popular designer food among the rich and the famous, health conscious foodies and sport personalities alike, what is that makes this food tick. Know the grain:A pseudo-cereal, quinoa is not a true grain biologically but is relative to the family of roots like beetroot and leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. This grain, originally from Ecuador, Mexico and Peru is becoming a popular favorite as a rice-replacement.Know all about quinoa:What makes this nutty grain-like food a super food is the fact that it contains all the essential amino-acids in the right balance making it a complete vegetarian protein. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair which is deficient in our household grains like rice, wheat, oats and other cereal. Other than being a protein food, quinoa has a host of additional health benefits. Being rich in fibre, it is an apt replacement for rice for all the weight watchers and diabetics alike. Quinoa is a rich source of magnesium, a mineral essential to relax the blood vessels as well a good source of folate, and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migrane, diabetes and cardio-vascular ailments. Quinoa is also a welcome relief to gluten sensitive individuals i.e people who are allergic to wheat. Quinoa doesn’t contain gluten, a protein found in wheat and hence, can be readily used as a wheat replacement in almost all preparations especially baked products.How to enjoy these wonder grain?Quinoa can be cooked traditionally exactly the way we cook rice i.e wash it off well and pressure cook. It can be also milled it a flour and can be used to make variety of preparations. Quinoa beans can also be a good alternative to breakfast cereals as well as roasted and baked as a snack. Another popular quinoa preparation is quinoa salad which can come handy with any Indian preparation or a veggie burger or sandwich.

Are You Eating the Right Breakfast?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Amidst our growing consciousness for good health we find ourselves grappling for better and fitter options for our daily meals, of which, breakfast is the easiest and possibly the most effective.Breakfast cereals have emerged as a popular item for the first meal of the day because they are easier to prepare and promise significant health benefits.So, let’s talk about the healthiest breakfast option available to us – muesli. In its basic preparation muesli is quite healthy. After all it is all about whole oats, wheat flakes, dried fruits and nuts. However, added sugar and preservatives turn the whole deal sour by making it fattening and unhealthy.Good news is that there are plenty of “no added sugar” options in the market. The oats and wheat flakes provide dietary fibre, which helps in fighting bad cholesterol and digestion problems. The recommended daily roughage intake is between 25 g to 38 g, of which, 100 g of muesli covers about 2.9 g to 6.9 g (depending upon the type and brand).Muesli is an energy-dense food. Half a cup of muesli contains around 750 kJ of energy, which practically chases away any specs of drowsiness after waking up. One noteworthy point is that unneeded energy gets converted into fat. So, be careful about your carbohydrate intake.In short, the health benefits of a bowl of muesli with added milk, fruits and seeds/nuts is a dish full of fibre, vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals!Just try to avoid buying the packs with excess dried sweet fruits because they add to the calorie content heavily. Instead, add fresh fruits and seeds/nuts like apple, banana, strawberries, pear, almonds, walnuts, raisins, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed etc. and restrict your portions. Do not have more than half a cup per serving. Just because muesli is such a healthy meal, some people prepare it at home to avoid risking intake of unwanted unhealthy additives of the packaged one. It is fairly simple to prepare and you can add exactly what you want to your muesli.A footnote on the importance of breakfast:Skipping breakfast is the most common mistake people make while trying to lose weight. Skipping breakfast often slows metabolism over a period of time because the body gets used to fewer calories. So anytime you add it back to your routine it gets added to your system as extra calories (especially since the body is not used to it), lending evidence to the notion that breakfast makes one fat.Just remember that you can substitute milk with yogurt, fruit juice, or even just plain water, in case it starts getting boring. All these ingredients have multiple health benefits and promote weight loss by nourishing the body and regulating metabolism.