What better way is there to start the morning than with a bowl of hot breakfast cereal? If you choose a whole grain, it'll give you a nutritional edge over most of the heavily sweetened processed breakfast cereals that line grocery store shelves. One popular choice of hot breakfast cereal is Cream of Wheat. This cereal can be prepared in under three minutes making it convenient for busy mornings where time is a premium. But, is it a good choice when it comes to nutrition? Is Cream of Wheat healthy?
What is Cream of Wheat?
Cream of Wheat is a breakfast cereal marketed by B and G Foods that's made of ground wheat or farina. This cereal is prepared by boiling water and slowly stirring the farina into hot water until it thickens to a porridge-like consistency. Some people add additional flavorings and additives such as fruit, maple syrup, or nuts to create flavored Cream of Wheat.
Is Cream of Wheat Healthy?: Nutritional Profile
Cream of Wheat wins points for being low in calories. At only 120 calories per cup, it, at first, seem to be a good choice for those who are watching their waistline. It's also fat-free and sodium free which is positive in terms of heart health. It has a moderate amount of carbohydrates at 23 grams per cup, but the real health drawback is that it has no fiber. The bran is stripped from the wheat during processing which removes the natural fiber found in the wheat. Because it lacks fiber, it's also high on the glycemic scale, meaning it elevates blood glucose and insulin levels rapidly which isn't a positive for diabetics or anyone else concerned with maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Some experts believe that high glycemic foods like Cream of Wheat promote fat storage which can lead to weight gain. This means that despite its low calories, it still may not be good choice for people who are weight conscious. On the plus side, it has been enriched with the B vitamins, vitamin A, and iron.
Is Cream of Wheat Healthy?: Is It a Good Choice for Breakfast?
Cream of Wheat is a decent source of some vitamins and iron, but it lacks the soluble fiber that's so important for heart health. Plus, it's a processed carbohydrate that spikes insulin levels which can negatively affect overall health. If given a choice, you're better off sticking with a fiber rich cereal such as old-fashioned oats. Oatmeal is an excellent source of fiber and won't cause jumps in glucose or insulin levels. It's also relatively easy to prepare and is filling. When it comes to hot cereals, stick with oatmeal and, if you enjoy it, use Cream of Wheat as a special weekend treat.