Breakfast cereals: how to choose the right ones for you

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Robert Maurer

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by Marzia Nicolini

A breakfast a basis of cereals, combined with milk or yogurt, provides the body with the nutrients it needs to fuel after the long run night fasting. Several researches have shown that the consumption of grains can improve the the memory,mood, the ability to concentration, reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.

And even extend our lives, as a study published in the British Medical Journal by scientists from Imperial College London certified: "The benefits in terms of reducing mortality", concluded the researchers, "are greater in those who pass from 0 to 2 servings a day of whole grains ».

Tips from the experts to choose the right ones

Not all of them marche that you find on the market, however, guarantee the same benefits. Some may even be unhealthy due to the excessive intake of sugars and salt or for the addition of additives (dyes, preservatives, flavorings).

Below Alessandra Bordoni, professor of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Bologna, the dietician Diana Scatozza and the dietician Anna Cossovich help you locate the right product for your needs. While the nutritionist biologist Fabio Gregu and the food technologist Giorgio Donegani guide you in reading the information on the packs.

Watch out for sugar “Being an excellent source of carbohydrates (our body's favorite “petrol”) cereals are excellent for filling up on energy as soon as you wake up », says Dr. Gregu. «But remember that those based on refined grains and particularly sweet are counterproductive both from a nutritional point of view (they provide very little Vitamins and minerals) both from the functional one (they induce a sense of fatigue) and, finally, from the dietary one (they cause blood sugar peaks and promote hunger pangs in the middle of the morning with the consequence of pushing you to eat more) ".

Prefer "short" labels First, know that the ingredients are listed on thelabel in descending order. "Sugar and the various glucose or fructose syrups (only apparently healthier than the common sucrose) should be at the bottom of the list, like salt", explains Fabio Gregu. «In general, however, it is always better to prefer i products with few components, if not just one, as in the case of flakes or puffed grains ».

Focus on organic «In this way you will have the certainty of not taking on residues of pesticides which, in cereals from traditional agriculture, could be present on the outermost part of the grain (the one that is eliminated by refining) », explains Dr. Giorgio Donegani. But make sure that on the package there is the European sticker (a stylized green leaf on a green background), optional only for products
organic imported from non-EU countries.

Don't be misled by additions Many cereals for children (but also many products for adults) are enriched with vitamins, minerals, fibers. «Their presence must not condition your choices. They are precious substances, but contained in insufficient quantities to cover the daily requirement. And then it would be better to take them with other foods such as fruit, milk and yogurt», Concludes the food technologist.

At this point, browse our gallery to choose the breakfast more suitable to your needs.

1. If you care about the line

The right choice: whole grains, prepared without the addition of sugar or glucose-fructose syrups.

Because they are good: slow down the absorption of nutrients, avoiding spikes in blood sugar that promote weight gain.

The extra idea: to those obtained from a mix of whole grain flours, you prefer the simple puffed grains, which have less sugar (1% of the weight against 10%) and more fiber (9% instead of 7,5%). Consume them with skim milk.

2. If you play sports

The right choice: muesli with chocolate (at least 15-20% by weight).

Because it is good: it's a lot energetic (450-500 calories per hectogram), provides a lot of fat (21g) and sugars (25g), which are burned in long-lasting aerobic activities. Furthermore, chocolate contains magnesium, which counteracts fatigue.

The extra idea: eat it with it low-fat yogurt, you will increase your calcium intake (which regulates muscle contraction).

3. If you have a lazy bowel

The right choice: oat bran, consisting of the outer coating of the grains.

Because it is good: is very rich in fibers (14,6% of weight) which favor the proper functioning of the intestine.

The extra idea: to improve its action you can consume it (with milk, yogurt or sugar-free fruit juices) by adding 1 teaspoon of psyllium or inulin (prebiotic soluble fibers, which rebalance the bacterial flora).

4. If you have slow awakening

The right choice: muesli with the dried fruit (at least 15-20% of the weight).

Because it is good: in addition to providing the fuel that the mind and body need to get going again, it provides essential fats (including Omega-3s), which keep cell membranes elastic, enhancing cognitive abilities and memory. 

The extra idea: if you feel down, add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, which provide a precursor to serotonin, the good mood hormone.

5. If you have high cholesterol

The right choice: flaked or puffed barley (the nutritional characteristics are the same).

Because it is good: is an excellent source of beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibers (the exact amount is often not indicated on the packaging) which, as shown by several studies, reduce blood cholesterol levels.

The extra idea: like it with a vegetable milk (rice, soy, oats ...) which, unlike that of cows, does not contain the "bad" fat.

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