Many people, both young and old, mistakenly believe that morning cereals are a healthy option for breakfast since they include whole grains, vitamins, and minerals. However, many bowls of cereal are really quite processed and contain a lot of refined grains and added sugar.
Excessive added sugar consumption may lead to a number of chronic health issues, including high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease.
Cereals are a reliable breakfast option for many Mzansi households, particularly those with parents who have to go out to work first thing in the morning.
But do you know what’s in your bowl of cereal?
Are cereals healthy or unhealthy?
According to registered dietician Jason van Heerden, from Pretoria, the concern with cereals is that it is difficult to determine which is unhealthy and which is healthy.
Van Heerden says breakfast is the most essential meal of the day and must be taken seriously. This is the food that will turbocharge your body after long hours of sleep, during which your body worked. Therefore, in order to begin the day, you must have something healthy that will keep you alert and mentally fit.
If you have a meal that is low in fibre, high in sugar, and low in protein, the food in your system will be digested quickly, your blood sugar levels will rise rapidly, and an hour later you will likely feel hungry and your energy will decrease, Van Heerden says.
Protein and fibre the way to go
Consider protein and fibre when deciding what to put on your plate, particularly for breakfast. Your body needs them to begin the day. Van Heerden adds that the benefit of fibre is that it can sustain you for extended periods of time.
“Rather of white bread with sweet fillings, eat bread with a low glycemic index (GI), peanut butter, avocado, or a protein-rich food.” White bread is a manufactured product with low-quality carbohydrates and may have added sugar, but brown and rye bread provide sufficient fibre to keep you satisfied for a longer period of time.”
Van Heerden notes that rye bread includes more fibre and minerals, particularly B vitamins, and has been linked to health advantages such as weight reduction, improved blood sugar management, and enhanced heart and intestinal health.
“Some morning cereals are rich in fibre, which is beneficial. However, if we add an excessive amount of sugar, this meal becomes toxic to your body.”
A way to test your cereals
According to Van Heerden, you may test your cereals by just squeezing them between your fingers; if they crumble readily, this is how they will act in your body. In contrast to other cereals, bran cereals are soft and crunchy, allowing them to remain in the body longer to keep you energised and fit.
Protein-rich meals are good for breakfast, Van Heerden says, and the finest options are bacon, eggs, and avocado.
He says that cheese is a great breakfast food, especially for kids, and kids can have good quality bread with a less sugary filling instead of cereal.
“Children get used to high-sugar foods if they consume them often. They will complain as soon as you add healthy meals; thus, you should introduce them when they are still young so they can get used to them,” explains Van Heerden.
According to Lerato Radebe, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Association of Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), it takes time to comprehend the values of nutrition, to recognise which foods are healthy and which are unhealthy, and which foods cause illnesses and which may treat them.
“What you eat as a youngster or young adult might not show you flames right away, but it might when you’re in your 40s and 50s.”
Radebe explains that it takes six weeks of constancy to work on anything beneficial or to combat addiction.
If we can educate our children about healthy food for six weeks in a row, they will likely get used to it, and if we continue to model a healthy diet and lifestyle, our children will continue to eat well and make healthy lifestyle choices.
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