Are Cornflakes For Breakfast Healthy For Your Child?

01 Feb 2020

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It’s easy, it’s quick and it requires no prep time! Cornflakes are considered to be a healthy and hassle-free breakfast option, in India and the west. It has taken over our breakfast tables and how, but is it really healthy for your child?

A box of cornflakes contains the following ingredients – corn, sugar, salt, malt flavoring, and high fructose corn syrup. While we believe a bowl of cornflakes provides the requisite vitamins, minerals, and fiber, in reality, it has way more added sugar than considered healthy for children and adults. Moreover, the low protein content in cornflakes is likely to keep your child from feeling full for a longer period.

Packaged ready-to-eat products have found a market in urban households where time and convenience are the primary factors for most parents. Processed foods with high levels of sugar come under the category of high glycemic food, thus increasing the chances of diabetes in children. Therefore, it is not surprising that the glycemic index (GI) of corn flakes is very high and stands at 81 [1].

However, not all types of cereal are unhealthy and there are several other nutritious alternatives that your kids will love. When choosing your breakfast cereal for your child, it is important to make sure that they have 100% whole grain as their primary ingredient and no hidden or added sugars. Remember, if you are eating packaged food, it is crucial to read the nutrition label.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of the top five nutritious alternatives to cornflakes that the kids will love.

  • Wheat Bran Flakes: Bran is the hard outer part of a wheat kernel and is considered a whole grain. It is nutrient-dense and is rich in fiber, vitamins, healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants. Owing to its rich fiber content, it helps children feel fuller for longer [2].

Dress up their cereal by adding some fresh fruit and nuts to the flakes. Bran flakes with yogurt is another delicious alternative.

  • Muesli: Muesli is a great breakfast option as it contains raisins, almonds, and different kinds of seeds and grains. It is rich in fiber and whole grains, which helps maintain gut health and also keeps kids full for longer.

Muesli also contains oat bran, which is a good source of beta-glucan. Studies [3] suggest that beta-glucan helps reduce cholesterol levels by up to 10 percent. However, it is important to pick a brand that does not contain high amounts of added sugars. Muesli can be had with either milk or yogurt. Top it with fresh fruits or honey for a fun and healthy twist.

  • Poha: Flattened rice or poha is a popular breakfast item in Indian households and is considered to be one of the healthiest. It is a good source of carbohydrates, iron, and antioxidants. It is rich in fiber, essential vitamins and is also gluten-free.

Although it does not contain any protein, adding peanuts to it when cooked traditionally can make it a protein-rich breakfast option for children.

  • Oats: Oats are gluten-free whole grains rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. Studies [4] show that it contains more protein and fat than most grains. Oats are also a rich source of beta-glucan, which helps keep the cholesterol in check.

Oats are very versatile and is a great choice for picky-eaters. Sweet or savory, oats can be prepared as per your child’s taste preferences.

  • Millets: In India, millets were a staple and were consumed widely before wheat and rice took over. However, they are making a swift and steady comeback to our plates. There are different types of millets and these include bajra or the pearl millet, jowar, and ragi.

They are highly nutritious and are rich in Vitamin B, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc. Popularly known as ‘nutri-cereal’, millets are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index (GI). Millets can be served to children as porridge, a roti or as whole grains in the form of rice or upma.

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3507301/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17426742
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22530714

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