New Study Finds Big Improvements in Breakfast Cereals

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New research from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) published in the second issue of Procedia Food Science shows the nutrition profile of ready-to-eat cereals has markedly improved, according to data collected between 2005-2011. The study found that whole grain is now a key ingredient in two-thirds of cereals made by leading ready-to-eat cereal manufacturers, led in part by General Mills' initiative to increase whole grain across its Big G cereal portfolio.

According to the US Dietary Guidelines, Americans are falling short when it comes to whole grain.  Health benefits of eating adequate amounts of whole grains include healthier body weight and, potentially, protection against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

"The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend making half of your grains whole grains, which for most people is at least 48 grams of whole grain every day," said Kathy Wiemer, MS, RD, fellow/director, General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. "Ninety-five percent of Americans continue to fall short of the recommendation. What they may not realize is that beginning your day with a bowl of cereal can be one of the best ways to help meet whole grain recommendations."

In addition to whole grains, supermarket shoppers walking down the cereal aisle will find more fiber and less sugar and sodium than they did seven years ago. Fiber in breakfast cereals increased 32 percent on average, while sugar and sodium decreased on average 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that cereals provide less than 4 percent of total sugar and only 2 percent of sodium in the diet.

Many Benefits in One Bowl

Cereal is one of the healthiest breakfast choices you can make. Research continues to show that people who eat cereal have healthier body weights and better intake of nutrients including fiber, calcium and vitamin D; all identified as nutrients of need in the most recent Dietary Guidelines. They also get more whole grain, and less cholesterol and fat, compared to people who don't eat cereal. Cereal has fewer calories than almost any other common breakfast option. Without packing on calories, cereals pack in vitamins, minerals and key nutrients.

Many leading cereals are made with whole grains, fiber, calcium and vitamin D, making them more nutritious than ever. As an industry leader, General Mills is committed to enhancing the nutritional value of cereal. The company offers more than 40 cereals that have 130 calories or less per serving, and since 2007 has continued on its journey for sodium and sugar reduction. As of January 2012, all Big G cereals have more whole grain than any other single ingredient providing at least 10 grams of whole grain or more per serving. Big G cereals are a leading source of whole grain in America.

For more information on the study, visit the USDA ARS website.