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Cereal: The Good, the Bad, and the Even Worse

By Kate Gardner

I love cereal. It's quick. It's easy. In a pinch, it can be eaten for dinner. But at the back of my mind, I always wonder if cereal is a good food choice. The boxes tell me all the possible benefits of eating each brand (High in fiber! May lower cholesterol! Contains your daily supply of iron!), but how true are these claims? takes us through the good and the bad in its article, "Breakfast Cereals: Healthy or Unhealthy?"

The Cons of Breakfast Cereal

Let's start with the bad news. Healthline points out that breakfast cereals have a number of strikes against them. 

  • Too much sugar - Many breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates. Americans tend to consume too much sugar in their diet and this is associated with a host of health problems from obesity to diabetes. 

  • False advertising - Many breakfast cereals say they are healthy and list various benefits on their boxes. However, most of these claims are misleading. Cereals touted as low-fat may have sugar as their first ingredient. Others shout "Whole grains!" even though these grains are only a minor ingredient in the product. 

  • Appealing to the kids - Breakfast cereal manufacturers like to use fun, cartoon-laden advertising to appeal to children. This teaches children to make food choices based on how exciting the packaging is, rather than how healthy the food is.  

The Pros of Breakfast Cereal

Now for the (sort of) good news. Breakfast cereal has the potential to be healthy. Some cereals that say they have whole grains actually have a lot of whole grains! Others do their best to reduce the amount of sugar they contain. A trip down the organic food aisle shows many companies who are trying to give our breakfast cereals a much-needed, healthy makeover. But unfortunately, Cinnamon Toast Crunch (my kids' favorite) isn't in that category. 

The Verdict

My heart is broken. Breakfast cereals are typically heavily processed, sugar-laden foods that aren't very good for us. Instead of wallowing in my sadness though, it's OK to focus on other foods that are great for breakfast! Oatmeal is a good breakfast choice (avoid the pre-packaged kind with lots of added sugar) that has been connected to better heart health. Additionally, eggs have been shown to have many health benefits. If you're pressed for time, low-sugar yogurt with fruit and granola is a great alternative to breakfast cereal. 

If breakfast cereal is too important for you to give up, it's OK to treat it as something special, like candy (some cereals can have as much as sugar as a chocolate bar). There's no rule that you have to give up all your favorite foods to be healthy, as long as you enjoy them in moderation. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Maple Grove, Minn. 

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