Mar 27, 2014 • By

The benefits of a bowl of cereal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

We’ve heard it a million times, but many of us still don’t eat it.

In fact, one study shows 11 percent of children in the U.S., ages 6 to 12, regularly skip breakfast!

Dr. Sandra Affenito, from the School of Natural Sciences at the University of St. Joseph, and Dr. Keith Ayoob, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, recently presented new research and new ways to inspire nutritious breakfast choices.

The two teamed up for a webinar about cereal offered by the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.

“Breakfast contributes less than 20 percent of daily calories but more than 30 percent of many key vitamins and minerals,” Dr. Affenito pointed out.

A review of several studies link ready-to-eat cereals, such as Cheerios and Wheaties, with healthier body weights. More specifically, the studies suggest that whole grain cereals have a protective role in weight management issues.

According to Dr. Affenito’s research summary, nutrient density and milk consumption are two other benefits of eating a cereal breakfast.

“I think of cereal as a vehicle food because it tends to hang out with good foods, otherwise. Whole grain cereal comes along, oftentimes, with fruit and usually with milk,” said Dr. Ayoob.

That combo of whole grains, fruit and milk is a simple way to consume nutrient dense foods and meet dietary and nutrient gaps.

According to Dr. Ayoob, people often don’t get enough fiber, potassium, vitamin D, and calcium.

A quick breakfast in the morning can solve that.

Whole grains in cereal provide fiber, fresh fruit provides potassium and vitamin D and milk provides calcium.


A cereal breakfast is not only nutritious, but also economical, insists Dr. Ayoob. He figures it costs less than a dollar: 50 cents for cereal and milk and 25-50 cents for fruit.

“What I love about breakfast is it is a meal of habit. It’s amazing to me how people will not eat the same dinner two days in a row, but they’ll eat the same breakfast for twenty years. If we get a really good habit going at breakfast time, it’s one that they can really keep with them.”

For those who want something a little different, consider trying cereal as an ingredient in smoothies or mixed with yogurt. You might even want to top your salad with it.

The webinar was specifically developed for dietitians, but a recording is available to anyone, here.