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Feature Articles: Eating Well

Oatmeal with blueberriesHealthy hot cereals

Susan Mills-Gray, State Specialist and Extension Professor, Nutrition and Health Education, University of Missouri Extension


What better way to get your day started during these cold Missouri winter months than with a bowl of steaming hot cereal? Something that will “stick to your ribs” as my grandmother used to say — and she was right! Now there’s research to back up her wise advice.

Studies show that people who eat high-fiber cereals for breakfast most mornings are less likely to be overweight, are at less risk for heart disease and some types of cancer, and are less likely to experience wild swings in blood sugar levels.

A high-fiber cereal goes a long way to boost your health, and a hot high-fiber cereal is a great choice! There are many tasty choices available and even more ways to customize it to suit your tastes and your nutrition needs. Spend some time checking out the items in your grocery aisles.

Hot tips for healthy cereals:

  • Choose a cereal that provides at least three grams of fiber per serving; more is even better.
  • Basic hot cereals are sugar-free, but some of the new combinations that sound almost like dessert contain as much as 19 grams of sugar per serving — that’s almost five teaspoons! Choose a cereal that has no more than eight grams of sugar per serving.
  • Flavored and instant hot cereals are typically high in sodium, so choose plain cereals to reduce sodium intake.
  • Make your hot cereal with skim or soy milk instead of water for a creamier texture and added nutrition.
  • Spice up plain offerings with cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg.
  • Add fruit like raisins, blueberries or bananas for more flavor and better nutrition.
  • Top off with chopped walnuts for a boost of vitamin E and omega-3 fats.
  • Individual containers of hot cereal are certainly the most convenient, but they also tend to be the choice loaded with calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Plus, they cost more! Pay close attention to the nutrition label to find a healthy choice. Or look up recipes for “overnight oats” to make your own (the oats soak overnight and then you just have to warm it up in the microwave the next morning).
  • It’s typically best (in terms of cost and nutrition) to start with plain cereal and add your own healthy additions.


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Last update: Tuesday, January 17, 2017