The healthiest breakfast is whole grain cereal. If you’re trying to lose weight, control cholesterol or diabetes, or just need a lot of energy, your best bet is a hot cooked cereal of whole grains, such as oatmeal. You can also cook barley, brown rice or wheat berries and serve them like oatmeal – season them with cinnamon or raisins.
If you prefer cold cereal, you need to check the list of ingredients carefully. The FIRST ingredient should be a whole grain. Then scan through the entire list and if you see the words “partially hydrogenated,” put the box back on the shelf. You should avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils (or “trans fats”), and they show up in an alarming number of cereal brands (see the list below.)
Once you’ve eliminated all the brands made with refined grains or partially hydrogenated oils, check for added sugars (you want little or none) and fiber (you want a lot.)
The fiber content listed on the nutrition label can be confusing because it’s based on serving size, and very light cereals (such as puffed wheat) show little fiber per serving, but an acceptable amount when you adjust for weight. Cereals made from bran (the outer covering removed from whole grains) will have higher fiber content than cereals made from whole grains (which have the germ and starchy parts of the grains as well as the fiber), but they can be hard to digest.
For a list of breakfast cereals by brand see http://www.drmirkin.com/nutrition/N180.htm
Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports at http://www.DrMirkin.com