Breads and cereals are found on the bottom of the Food Guide Pyramid and contain many nutrients that contribute to good health. At least half of the grains you eat in a day should be whole grains, because they contain more nutrients than refined ones. Adequate whole-grain intake reduces your risk of heart disease, controls your weight and aids in healthy digestion. Nutrient content varies among bread and cereal and reading labels helps you make the most nutritious choice.
Grains are a good source of fiber, and whole grains contribute more than processed ones do. The fiber you get from bread and cereal helps you feel satisfied, which prevents you from getting hungry and overeating between meals. According to the University of Iowa Extension, fiber also keeps your digestive tract moving along and cuts the risk of constipation and diverticulosis. Choices that are higher in fiber provide more of these benefits. Fiber also plays a role in keeping cholesterol at optimal levels, which makes your chances of developing heart disease lower. Women need 21 to 25 grams of fiber each day, and men should be getting 30 to 38 grams.
Several B vitamins are present in grain products, including bread and cereal. Included are vitamin B1, or thiamine, vitamin B2, or riboflavin, vitamin B3, or niacin, and folic acid. Each of these nutrients plays a role in good health and should be consumed in adequate amounts each day. According to the Institute of Medicine, men need 1.2 milligrams of B1 each day, and women need 1.1 milligrams. B2 needs are 1.3 milligrams for males and 1.1 milligrams for females. Women should be getting 14 mg of B3 and men 16 milligrams. These three B vitamins give you energy and help your body efficiently use other nutrients. Folic acid intake should be 400 milligrams for both women and men. This nutrient prevents birth defects and keeps DNA healthy. Refined breads and cereals contain less of these nutrients than whole grains do.
Iron is a nutrient that is present in whole grains, and many Americans don't get adequate amounts in their daily diet. Iron is necessary because it moves oxygen in the blood to your internal organs and protects your cells from damage caused by the environment, reports Iowa State University Extension. Adults need from 8 to 18 milligrams of iron each day, depending on age. Many women are iron-deficient, so women should eat iron-rich foods, like bread and cereal, with foods that contain vitamin C, because this allows your body to more efficiently absorb and use the iron. Incorporating whole-grain bread and cereal into your diet helps you reach your daily goals.