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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2001

Keep sowing those oats and other cereals

August 18, 2001

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The news about oatmeal just keeps getting better. A recent Yale University study compared individuals in a control group who drank a high-fat milkshake with an experimental group that drank the same shake but also consumed a bowl of oatmeal. Turns out the folks drinking only the milkshake showed signs of arterial narrowing while the oatmeal eaters experienced no such constriction.

No one is recommending milkshakes for breakfast. What the study suggests is another reason why oatmeal should be a staple in our diets.

Other cereals should be in the mix, too, for both health reasons and variety. Some of us can eat the same cereal every day, others mix and match, sometimes in the same bowl.

While the cereal aisle at any grocery store is practically overflowing, here are few tips from dietitians on how to make the right selections:

l Look for fiber. Some of the possibilities may surprise you. Corn bran cereal can offer as much as 5 grams of fiber in one serving, while General Mills Wheat Chex can do the same. Some instant hot cereals have outstanding fiber counts for the convenience of simply adding hot water to the cereal. Arrowhead Mills, Fantastic Foods (which even provides the individual-size cup) and Quaker are brands to browse.

l Add your own sugar. Though it's acceptable to buy cereals with a bit of sugar (6 to 10 grams per serving), you can just add your own. That way you can experiment with how much sugar you need when adding fresh or dried fruit. You might be surprised by how little you need to sprinkle.

l Note the vitamin and mineral content. Most cereals are fortified, which is why research shows cereal eaters as among the healthiest and best protected against heart disease. On the other hand, because cereals are processed, they typically contain sodium. The better choices keep the sodium to 100 to 250 milligrams per serving.

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