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What Is Puffed Wheat Cereal?

Wheat berries before being puffed.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
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Puffed wheat cereal is a breakfast food made by pressurizing and then quickly de-pressurizing steamed grains of whole wheat. It is usually beige and brown in color, and tends to have a spongy texture. Puffed wheat cereal to which few or no additional ingredients have been added is generally fat-free and contains only a small number of calories, although its fiber content can be somewhat low relative to certain other breakfast cereals. Some cereal manufacturers add ingredients like sugar to their puffed wheat products, which can result in a lowered nutritional value.

Usually, the first step in making the cereal is steaming grains of whole wheat to moisturize their interiors. Next, specialized machinery is used to pressurize the wheat grains, and then to quickly de-pressurize them. Due partly to the presence of moisture inside the grains, this rapid addition and removal of pressure causes the wheat to expand, or “puff” up, to several times its initial size.

In general, puffed wheat cereal is beige or tan in color, with flecks of a darker brown shade dotting each grain’s surface. It tends to have a slightly crunchy exterior and a somewhat spongy interior. Most people consume the cereal by pouring it into a bowl, adding milk, and then scooping up the cereal with a spoon.

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When a puffed wheat cereal is produced without the addition of any other ingredients, it is usually fat-free. Further, it contains only around 60 calories for each 1 cup (16 gram) serving, a significantly lower number of calories than is found in many cereals, especially those that are highly processed. A serving tends to have fewer grams of heart-healthy fiber than an equal volume of a whole grain cereal which has not been “puffed,” however. In the eyes of some nutritionists, this low fiber content may prevent this type of cereal from being considered a health food.

It should be noted that some breakfast food manufacturers add a number of additional ingredients to their puffed wheat cereal formulations, including sugar, corn syrup, and artificial colorants. Such ingredients can significantly increase the number of calories contained in this cereal, and can also decrease its overall nutritional value. Those in search of the healthiest puffed wheat cereals may wish to scan a product’s nutrition label prior to purchase. To avoid excess calories and artificial additives, buyers should look for a product that contains only whole grain wheat.

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