My usual weekly trip to the supermarket made me realize the wide choice of breakfast cereals displayed on aisles.
It is such a wonderful, attractive display and innumerable choices of flavours, tastes, combinations etc to choose from. How can we forget the “claims” such as lose weight in two weeks, reduce cholesterol, get smarter with more iron and an array of flavours such as honey, banana, mango, strawberry etc. It is so tempting to pick up at least one box before leaving the supermarket.
Clients too ask me which one do I recommend and is healthy. There was a case where two friends of mine took up the ‘K challenge’ and they lost weight, but lost interest eating the same cereal four times a day. Yuck!!
But lets get smarter to choose the right and healthy breakfast cereal with the following pointers-
- Watch out for sugar content. The label says carbohydrates and sugar separate. If the numbers of these are almost close, this indicates that the cereals have large amount of sugar. Avoid those that have refined flours such wheat flour or maida, corn etc. Look for whole grains as they are high in fiber. The sugar content should not be more than 3-5 grams per serving. So frosties, honey coated ones are out. Avoid those that have sugars such as corn syrup, invert syrup etc.
- Added fruits, dried fruits etc just add up to the sugar content. It is advisable to add fresh fruit or fresh dried fruit such as raisins etc.
- It is absolutely great to have a fiber rich breakfast. Most of the breakfast cereals are low on fiber. Hence choose those that have more than 5 grams of fiber per 30-40g of cereal serving, not for the whole pack. Also look for cereals which say ‘all bran’ with whole wheat, oat bran on the cover. This helps to lose weight and reduces the glycemic index of the food.
- The protein content too should be between 3-5 grams per serving and with 200 ml skimmed milk should provide 10-12 g of protein for that meal.
- Avoid cereals which have colour added, artificial flavours etc. Opt for organic cereals which have least number of ingredients.
- Opt for cereals that have less than 400mg of sodium.
- Most of the cereals are low in fat. Hence do not fall for the weight loss claims. They are just sales gimmicks. You think Lara Dutta survives on such cereals! You will end up looking like the pruned cereals. Avoid those that have saturated or trans fats.
You can make your Breakfast cereal healthier by
- Using skimmed milk or soy milk with the cereal.
- Adding nuts, fresh cut fruits, wheat germ, flaxseed for the extra benefits
- Mix your healthy cereal with a little of the frosties or chocos. Adds taste and keeps kids happy.
My personal favourites are Kelloggs All bran wheat flakes, Pristine beginnings which has organic whole wheat, millets etc.
Have a happy and healthy breakfast.
Coconut oil and its usage has always been in the news. Every person is advised not to look at coconut oil. But I feel this is baseless.
Coconut oil is just like any other oil. It gives the same calories ie 9 calories as any other oil. The only hiccup is that it provides saturated fats. It does not contain cholesterol at all as we know no plant source can provide cholesterol to us. Excess intake of saturated fats can increase the cholesterol levels. In fact excess intake of any oil can increase the cholesterol levels.
- It contains lauric acid which is known for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
- The lauric acid also helps to prevent heart problems and does not increase the LDL levels which contributes to heart disease.
- It contains medium chain triglycerides which do not contribute to heart disease and can be very useful for recovery from various diseases and in many gastrointestinal diseases as it is turned into a energy source and the absorption is much better and hence helps people who have digestive problems.
My great grandmother used to pour coconut oil over her idlis and dosas and she died of old age at 95 years without any complaints. But that was the only saturated fat in her diet. She had a lot of fiber in the form of vegetables and was a pure vegetarian. Coconut oil was the only source of fat in her diet and did not eat any junk in the form of home made chips etc. She continued to do house hold work such as cleaning and dusting of furniture and washed her clothes(not in the washing machine).
We can take a cue from this. If a teaspoon of coconut oil is added to a vegetable of quantity half kilo, it is not going to harm us. So coconut oil is safe from tempering our pulse and vegetable preparations.
But it is arguable to see that the cardiovascular disease are on the increase in the southern states in India. I can tell you why. In these areas, 90% of the people use coconut oil for cooking. Take a look at the cooking practices. Deep frying is done with coconut oil so the fat in it gets hydrogenated and voila! you are eating hydrogenated fats. Excessive snacking on fried food will definitely increase your LDL cholesterol.
Non vegetarian dishes are cooked with grated coconut and coconut oil. If the skin of the meat is not removed or if the fat is not trimmed, then the saturated content increases three fold. You are getting the saturated fats from coconut plus the fats from meats especially red meats like pork and mutton. Pork lard clubbed with other fats is very hazardous. The poor culprit has been coconut oil but not the red meat.
Hence the incidence of cholesterol problems is on the rise. Hence try to avoid the excess combination of saturated fats.
Keep the intake of any oil at minimum. The allowance is 4 tsps per day. It is safe to combine coconut oil and other oils in your diet. If you use coconut oil for tempering and other oil for cooking, it is quite safe as long as you are not deep frying and are within the allowance of oil intake. Do not add excess of coconut in gravies. You can search for other alternatives like yogurt for thickening.
Those who hype about coconut oils are those who do not use it in their cooking. The northern parts of India are more of meat eaters and their share of saturated fats come from butter, ghee and full fat milk products and for the south indians, our share comes from coconut oil.