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Eat breakfast every day. Read labels carefully and choose a healthy cereal.

The least expensive healthy cereal is a bowl of hot cooked grains. Quinoa, millet, and brown rice are all perfect for weight loss because they are high in fiber and have a low calorie density. Rolled grains and cracked grains are almost as good, as long as you cook them. Cooking makes grains expand. They absorb water and we are more satisfied when we eat them.

If you don't know how to read and interpret food labels, the rest of this page might confuse you. Take this quick course in reading nutrition labels and you will be good to go.

Packaged hot cereal

4 grain cereal

If you get tired of single grains, there are many grain combinations. You can buy some mixed grains from bulk bins at your natural food store. Or you can buy packages like this 4 grain hot cereal.

4 grain cereal label
Check the Nutrition Facts label to see if the cereal is 10% fat or less. This one has 10 fat calories out of 140, so it is 7% fat. Great.

Check that the sodium content is no more than the calorie content. This cereal easily meets the test: 140 calories and no sodium.

We can't determine the calorie density from this label. A 39 gram serving will absorb water as it cooks. Cooked rolled oats have a calorie density of 24 calories per ounce. The density of this cereal is probably similar.

4 grain cereal ingredients
The list of ingredients looks fine. It is a healthy cereal, and good for weight loss.

Packaged cold cereals

Cold cereals will never be as good for weight loss as cooked whole grains. Most cold cereals are made of flour, which gives them a high calorie density. Even cold cereals that are made of rolled or sprouted whole grains have been heated and dried. Their calorie density is higher because they are not plumped up with water. 

But there are times that it is not practical to cook hot grains for breakfast. If you get up late, or you are traveling, it is better to eat a cold packaged healthy cereal than to skip breakfast completely. Let's compare a few choices so you know how to find a good one:

Back to Nature granola

Back to Nature granola

People think of granola as being a healthy cereal, but it seldom is. Most granola contains lots of oil and sugar. However, if you read labels carefully, you can find oil-free granola in your natural food store. It is fat free, but sometimes too sweet.

Years ago, this was the only oil-free granola we could find. We bought it in bulk and mixed it with equal portions of rolled oats and Grape-Nuts. We called the mixture Power Breakfast. We ate it at home and we took it with us when we travelled.  

Nature granola label

The Nutrition Facts label says this granola is
12.5% fat (25 calories out of 200.) That is excellent, since the ideal fat percentage for weight loss is 10%.

The label says 0 sodium. There probably is a little sodium that occurs naturally in the grains. At least they didn't add any salt. Good.

The calorie density is 3.9 calories per gram (200/51). Multiply 3.9 by 28.35 and we find it is 111 calories per ounce. That is super high. If we eat very much of this, it will make us fat.

Nature granola ingredients
The ingredients list explains the high calorie density. This granola contains four different sweeteners: evaporated cane juice (sugar) and three different types of fruit juice concentrate.

Let's try to find a better granola.

Galaxy Not Sweet Vanilla Munch

Galaxy granola

This oil-free granola is sweet enough for us. We even like to munch on it dry. Maybe that's why they call it vanilla munch....

Galaxy granola label
When we look at the Nutrition Facts, we see that the granola is 11% fat (14 fat calories out of 155.) That is excellent.

The sodium content is only 30 mg in a 155-calorie serving. Terrific.

The calorie density is 3.1 calories per gram (155/50). That equals 88 calories per ounce. Not nearly as good as oatmeal, but better than the first granola.

Galaxy granola ingredients

It contains no oil and no sugar. Apples and pear juice concentrate make it taste a little sweet.

This looks like a pretty healthy cereal. However, there are two questions about the ingredients. Manufacturers "puff" grains at a very high temperature. It is usually healthier to cook foods at lower temperatures. Puffed brown rice may not be as nutritious as rice cooked in water. Also, it is hard to know what "natural flavoring" is.

Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Cereal

Ezekiel 4:9 cereal

Food for Life makes several different flavors of Ezekiel 4:9 cereal. It is a crunchy dry cereal similar to granola. How does it compare?

Ezekiel cereal labelFrom the Nutrition Facts label, we can see that the fat content of the cereal is low (only 10 fat calories out of 190, or 5% fat.)

There are 200 mg of sodium in a 190-calorie portion. That is a tiny bit higher than we would like, but not bad at all. The ideal would be 190 mg or less. This is basically a healthy cereal.

The problem is the calorie density. There are 3.3 calories per gram (190/57). That is the same as 95 calories per ounce (3.3 x 28.35).

Ezekiel cereal ingredients

Here is the ingredient list. Malted barley is barley that has been sprouted and dried. When barley is malted, some of the starches in the grain turn into sugars. 

Between this and the Galaxy granola, it is nearly a toss-up. We would probably go with the Galaxy granola because:
  • It is lower in sodium.
  • It has a lower calorie density.
  • It tastes great.

Options from the supermarket

Products come and go. You may not be able to find any of these items in your area. If you don't have a health food store near by, take your calculator to the supermarket and look for a healthy cereal there. Here are a couple of products you might find:

Shredded Wheat

Shredded Wheat

Shredded Wheat has been around since 1893. Our parents ate it when they were children. There is no patent on the name, so several companies make their own versions of it.

Shredded Wheat label

The Nutrition Facts label says that Shredded wheat is 6% fat (10/170.) Excellent.

They claim there is no sodium in a 170-calorie serving. That sounds good too.

The calorie density is 3.4 calories per gram, which is equal to 96 calories per ounce. It is high, as we would expect from a dry cereal.

Shredded Wheat ingredients
The list of ingredients is short and sweet. Some of that preservative probably migrates into the cereal. But it is a very healthy cereal compared to most of the other junk in the cereal aisle.

Kashi Nuggets

Kashi Nuggets

Here is a product that looks something like Grape-Nuts.

Kashi Nuggets label

From the Nutrition Facts label, we see that the cereal is only 7% fat. Good.

There are 260 mg of sodium in a 210-calorie portion. That is not so good. It should be 210 or less.

Again we have an issue with the calorie density. There are 3.6 calories per gram (210/58). That means 103 calories per ounce. Typical for a cold cereal.

Kashi Nuggets ingredients
What about the ingredient list? Except for the salt, it looks great. It is nice that they used vitamin E as a preservative instead of BHT.

Here you will find details on how to choose a healthy milk substitute.  If you can't find a good non-dairy milk when you are on the road, moisten your cold cereal with apple juice or another fruit juice.

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