Considering that the so-called experts keep preaching that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that even considering skipping it is paramount to death by firing squad, a good follow-up question is: What's the best breakfast cereal for me to eat?
Now you might be wondering: What about the traditional bacon-and-egg breakfast? The truth is this was an excellent choice to start the day when we were heading out to slop the pigs, plow the back 40 with a mule and clear the land by chopping down trees. However, when all we're going to do the rest of the day is sit and stare at a computer screen, talk about how much we love or hate Sarah Palin, and sit in traffic, this hearty breakfast supplies too many calories, excessive saturated fat and is a bit too time consuming to prepare in our time-strapped world. But, hey, they're your arteries, so do as you will, but we'll stick here with a better option for most Americans today -- cereal.
That brings us back to -- what's the best cereal? And the answer depends on what you are looking for. Here are some suggestions for your perusal. If you are interested in:
High-Protein Content --When it comes to supplying the protein your body needs, the usual suspects just don't have what it takes. For example: Corn flakes, 2 grams; Shredded wheat, 3g; Fruit Lops, 2g; Cocoa Krispies, just 1g; and even Wheaties (Breakfast of Champions) only supply 3 grams. However, Kashi's Go Lean Crunch has a substantial 9 grams of protein and when you add a half cup of milk, you're up to about 13g.
Fiber -- Again, the old standbys don't come close to filling the bill. Rice Krispies supply a mere .1 grams of fiber; Special K, .5g; and Lucky Charms, 1g. Your best choice, if you're serious about bulking up, is Fiber One with a "Honey,-are-you-coming-out-of-the-bathroom-in-the-NEAR-FUTURE-BECAUSE ..." 21g of fiber and coming in a solid second might be All Bran, 13.2g. Another good option again is Kashi's Go Lean Crunch with 8g.
Low-Calorie -- Kashi's Mighty Bites has just 120 calories and 5g of sugar per serving (and no, I don't own stock in the Kashi company). Lucky Charms would seem like a sugar-laden cereal, but it is whole grain, fortified with vitamins and minerals and adds a measly 110 calories to your daily quota AND my 22-year-old daughter likes it. You could go with Perfect Balance by Weight Watchers at just 90 calories, but the report on taste is not encouraging.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids -- If you're not into fish, another way to get your heart-healthy and immune-system-supporting omega-3s is in a breakfast cereal. Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola doesn't sound tasty, but it is, and it supplies 400mg. of omega-3s per serving. And again, there's Go Lean Crunch with 500mg.
Purists -- If you want cereal made with organically-grown grains (and other organic ingredients), then the Pumpkin Flax Plus may be the way to go. I love it; it stays crunchy in milk (unless you marinate it all day), is tasty and contains no preservatives, additives nor any genetically-engineered seeds or other ingredients, and it's priced in line with the traditional cereal brands.
Hot Cereal -- You can't go wrong with oatmeal. Now there are a number of varieties to explore, with the weight-control version supplying 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber with just a single gram of sugar.
Vitamins & Minerals -- Consider a fortified cereal. Grains (especially whole grains) provide the B-Complex vitamins and Vitamin E, but are notoriously low in other vitamins and minerals.
Phytonutrients-- If you want the free-radical-destroying qualities of phytonutrients, your best bet is to add some sliced fruit or berries onto your cereal.
In summary, I guess that the best cereal for you depends on your nutritional preference, taste buds and wallet. With a little research and some trial and error, you'll soon be enjoying a delicious, nutritious, age-blasting, weight-controlling breakfast! Bon appetit!
Ed Mayhew is a speaker and the author of Fitter After 50 and Fitter for Life. You can find out more about him and how to grow biologically younger (and get a f*r*e*e* newsletter at: www.FitterAfter50.com www.FitterForLife.com and www.YouCanGrowYounger.com