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Cereals can be made from corn, wheat, and rice. Corn cereals are particularly common and have various uses other than food. Wheat cereals often make a more filling breakfast food than other cereals. All cereals are either hot or cold. Some are healthier than others, with heavily manufactured, sugared cereals usually being the worst for a person’s body.
Every cereal falls under the category of hot or cold. Hot cereals, also known as porridge, are cooked or at least warmed, such as cream of wheat, oatmeal, and grits. Milk, water, or other liquids are added to these types of cereal to moisten them. The vast majority of hot cereals are eaten as breakfast foods, but they are not limited to this meal. There are dozens of different kinds of porridges, some of which are eaten at any time of the day.
Breakfast cereals eaten plain or with milk are often cold cereals. These cereals are ready to eat and usually made of corn, rice, or wheat rather than oats. The grains are sometimes heavily processed to prepare them for packaging and eventual consumption by the consumer.
Corn, or maize, is a type of cereal that is utilized in many different ways around the world. For example, maize germ can be used for its oil, and high fructose corn syrup can be derived from it. It can be ground in a manner similar to other types of cereal grains, such as wheat.
Wheat cereals are often among the healthiest cereals available. These types of cereals are sold in both hot and cold varieties. They usually have more protein than other types of cereal, such as rice and corn.
Rice is a cereal grain that originates from Africa and Asia. This cereal is highly cultivated and consumed, ranking only behind wheat and corn in worldwide popularity. Rice can be consumed without major alteration and can also be used as an ingredient.
Some types of cereals are healthier than others. In fact, the worst cereals are generally marketed toward children and are sometimes made up of 50 percent sugar. The packaging of such products can also be misleading because they boast only of their good qualities, such as added fiber or essential vitamins. Healthy cereals, however, are not coated in sugar or available in fun colors or shapes. Studies show that cereals marketed to adults contain less sugar, less sodium, and more fiber, which is good for kids and adults alike.
@MissDaphne - Those are good tips, but it's worth noting that old-fashioned oatmeal is also a really healthy choice. (*Not* instant oatmeal, which is generally loaded with added sugar. I'm talking about the plain stuff that you cook on the stove.) You flavor it yourself, so you control how much sweet stuff is in there.
Something else to be aware of with cereal is that brands with added fruit, like raisins, will appear to have a lot of sugar, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're unhealthy - that's where reading the label comes in to help you judge how much sugar is actually added vs. naturally in the food.
A tip for parents is to let their kids pick out their favorite sweet cereals, but make them cut it down with a healthier cereal. My son likes Cookie Crisp (which I can't believe is even a cereal) mixed with Cheerios. Sounds gross to me, but he's a big fan.
Don't just check to see how much sugar is added when you're choosing a cold breakfast cereal - also check the fiber and protein content. These are what will keep you feeling fuller longer and, of course, they're good for you. Some cold cereals will mention how much soluble fiber they contain; soluble fiber is important, but insoluble fiber also is important. (Soluble fiber is often called a "sponge" while insoluble is a "broom." Soluble fiber soaks up fat in your body, while insoluble fiber sort of pushes it through.)
Read the ingredients - the grains included, whether corn, rice, wheat, barley, etc., should be whole grains. The words "wheat flour" or similar mean *nothing.* It will say if it's whole. Sugar or other sweeteners should be pretty far down the list.
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