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- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
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Nutrients in Cereals
Many people choose cereal for a quick and easy breakfast. It is important to choose a cereal that contains a high nutrient content with a low sugar and fat content. The use of a low-fat or skim milk helps add nutrition to the meal without additional fat and calories. There are several nutrients to look for in your breakfast cereal.
Folate, or folic acid, is added to enriched flours and grains that are usually the base ingredient for cereals. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, folate helps produce and maintain new cells, is needed to make the building blocks of cells and helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. It is also an important nutrient for women of childbearing age for the prevention of spina bifida, a neural tube defect that can occur in utero.
Fiber is an insoluble polysaccharide that is present in whole grains. It is important to choose a cereal with a high fiber content. Fiber causes the body to feel full for a longer period of time, which can help people consume fewer calories. It is also important for digestive health. Fiber has also been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk and slower progression of cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals, according to the American Heart Association. A healthy diet includes six to eight servings of grains daily, half of which should be from whole grains.
Many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron. Almost 2/3 of iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues with smaller amounts found in myoglobin, a protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle, and in enzymes that assist biochemical reactions, says the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Consuming additional vitamin C will help the body to absorb more iron.
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