MY KIDS eat breakfast cereals all the time. Yes, they eat it for breakfast, but sometimes they eat it for an after-school snack or what they call “first dinner,” which occurs before practices that otherwise conflict with our family’s dinner time.
Not only do I not care that they are eating what some people might consider “sugary” grains, but I have been known to join.
Not only do I love my quality time consuming bowls of nostalgia-inducing cereal, but I also know that the very cereal is giving us the nutrients we need.
Yes, “we” (defined as anyone over the age of 2) probably don’t get all the nutrients we need in our diets. Collectively, these nutrients are known in the dietary world as “deficient nutrients”.
A study published in the journal Nutrients looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2011 to 2014. The analysis found that of the adults evaluated, fiber, folate and iron (in women only) were all low.
Additionally, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have suggested that there are other nutrients we’re not up to par with, including vitamins A, D, E, C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and iron. .
Sounds almost like the side of a multivitamin label, right?
Losing the aforementioned nutrients, especially over a long period of time, can affect everything from eyes to skin, brain to bones. But the challenge with multivitamins is that they’re another thing to add to your dietary to-do list.
You know what goes down a lot easier than a pill, with the same complete nutrition, and costs around 50 cents a serving?
Brierley Horton, MS, RD, co-host of the Healthy Eating podcast and mom of two, is with me on my location.
“On any given day we have at least three varieties of grains in our pantry, most often five. And the varieties we have available may surprise you. Think: Lucky Charms, Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles, Honey Nut Cheerios, etc.” says Horton .
“I agree with these for a few reasons. First, your big brand non-organic grains are fortified with A LOT of nutrients. (Not always the case with organic or niche diet versions.) So, my kiddos do. they are getting a good variety of vitamins and minerals in cereals, as well as a healthy serving of milk. Second, they are learning to be more self-sufficient: at 6 and 9, they can “make themselves” a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Third, cereal often doubles as an after-school snack or dessert, and I’d prefer a bowl of cereal over some of the other common snack or dessert choices. “
As mentioned by Horton, most breakfast cereals are fortified with a myriad of vitamins and minerals, can provide fiber, depending on your choice, and when paired with cow’s milk and topped with fruit, that bowl of cereal that is been excreted many times it actually becomes one of the most nutritious and economical meals of the day and the best multivitamin you will eat.
Now you may be thinking, “Okay, sold out, how about eating fruits and vegetables to feed yourself and give the same to your kids?”
Because while the recommendation to eat more fruit and vegetables is certainly important and useful, that recommendation is not only elitist, it is also naïve compared to most people’s daily habits.
At a recent conference I attended in Washington DC called FoodFluence, I saw the data presented that looked at this very question: What would happen if ready-to-eat cereals and complementary grain foods, such as milk, were eliminated for those 5-18 years. of age?
The researchers found that if these grains were excluded from the diets of those who currently consume them, vitamin D intake would decrease by about 59%, iron by 48%, calcium by 33%, fiber by 19% and of many other vitamins and minerals. following similar patterns. Those are some steep descents.
This is not to mention the fact that the current average daily intake of fiber (and whole grains) is only about half of what is needed. Many grain choices can add to both as well.
I can almost see your eyes roll now, also worried about the added sugar intake. “Well, let me retort,” he said in my best voice from Samuel L. Jackson from pulp Fiction.
According to Analysis of what we eat in America, NHANES, 2013-2016, “breakfast cereals and bars” make up only 7% of the total added sugar consumed (compared to 24% of sugary drinks, 19% of desserts and sweet snacks, 11% of coffee and tea, 9% from candy and 19% from “other sources”.
So now please let me pour myself a nice bowl of Wheat Chex, one of my favorites, topped with some milk and a handful of raspberries.
And with that bowl I’ll eat more fiber (8 grams of cereal + 8 grams of berries) than the average person eats in a day, 14 grams of protein (8 grams of milk + 6 grams of cereal) and at least one of my many portions of fruit I will eat during the rest of the day.
I will also eat lots of vitamin J. This is “J” for “joy, another deficient nutrient missing in too many of our diets.
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