Why eating cereal may not be the healthiest way to start the day

Sugar and fat could be lurking in your breakfast

Kashmira Gander
Thursday 14 January 2016 17:50
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The old saying goes that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so many of us do as we are told and grab a bowl of cereal before we head out the door.

But an expert has warned that while many cereals boxes claim their contents are the perfect start to the day, many are packed full of sugar and carbohydrates with little nutritional value.

“Many commercial breakfast cereals, including those that claim to be healthy, are very high in added sugars,” nutritionist Kristen Beck told News.com.au.

She explained that even some seemingly-health muesli cereals have a lot of added sugar in the form of honey, malt, molasses, dried fruit or “even fruit juice.”

"Toasted muesl’s also contain significant amounts of fat," she said.

While saturated fat has been the pariah of health food for many years, health experts are now attempting raise awareness of the negative impact that sugar also has on the body.

Foods high in sugar often have few other nutrients, and can lead to weight gain. This in turn puts a person at risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sugary food can also cause tooth decay, particularly when they are consumed between meals.

Her warning comes after a study found that people who keep cereal out in their kitchens are more likely to weigh more than those who store it away.

Researchers at Cornell University used photographs to analyse the contents of over 200 kitchens in New York and to predict the owner’s weight.

They found that owners weighed 20lbs (9kg) more in they kept cereal on their countertop.

Professor Brian Wansink, the study's lead author, said: “As a cereal lover, that shocked me. Cereal has a health-halo, but if you eat a handful every time you walk by, it's not going to make you skinny.”

However, studies also show that breakfast should not be skipped, as children who eat in the morning are more likely to score highly in tests and assessments.

A study of 5,000 nine to 11-years-olds carried out by Cardiff University showed that there appeared to be a link between eating breakfast and high-level academic performance.

If you cannot stomach food in the morning, the NHS recommends that people make their bodies accustomed by consuming a piece of fruit or low-fat yogurt.

"After a while, your morning appetite will naturally increase and you'll probably find you eat less throughout the day, including snacks," dietitian Alison Hornby said on the NHS website.

Porridge, scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast, or a wholemeal English breakfast muffin with egg are all acceptable ways to start the day, she said.

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