The best cereals for people with diabetes are nutritious and will help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Eating a nutritious breakfast every day can jump-start your metabolism, prevent food cravings, and help you maintain a weight that supports your health. If you have diabetes, eating breakfast also helps you control your blood sugar.
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If you usually skip a morning meal because you don’t have time, a nutritious breakfast cereal can be a quick and easy way to tát start your day.
This article will explain how breakfast affects blood sugar levels and why you should choose cereals with a low glycemic index rating if you have diabetes. It also will help you learn about the common sweeteners that hide in popular cereals as well as some tips on choosing diabetes-friendly breakfast cereals.
How Breakfast Helps Blood Sugar
Research has shown that starting the day with a higher-fat, higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate breakfast can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and help you manage your weight if you have diabetes. Protein and fat help fill you up, which means you're likely to tát eat fewer calories throughout the day.
High blood sugar in the morning is common among people with diabetes. Blood sugar levels can also rise after breakfast, which can cause “a vicious cycle": High blood sugar can make you crave more carbohydrates, and eating more calories and carbs can cause your blood sugar to tát go up.
Choosing Cereal With a Low GI
If you have diabetes, choose foods with a low glycemic index (GI) rating. This number measures how fast the carbohydrates in a food will raise your blood sugar levels. The lower the GI index number, the longer the food takes to tát digest and get absorbed into your blood. When food takes longer to tát digest, you will be less likely to tát see a big and fast increase in your blood sugar.
Looking for a breakfast cereal with the lowest GI rating can help keep your blood sugar levels steady. Keep these numbers in mind:
- Low-glycemic foods are rated 55 or less.
- Medium-glycemic foods are rated between 56 and 69.
- High-glycemic foods are rated from 70 to tát 100.
Simple vs. Complex Carbs
Carbohydrates are also often classified as "simple" or "complex." The glycemic index was created as a better way to tát categorize carbohydrates, especially in terms of how they affect blood sugar.
Where Do I Find the GI?
If you’re at a grocery store in nước Australia or New Zealand, you’d see the GI index of a breakfast cereal right on the box. These countries encourage food manufacturers to tát put this information on food labels but other countries—including the United States and Canada—do not.
Research by Health Canada published in an American scientific journal found that consumers could be misled if glycemic index values were put on food labels in the U.S. The researchers said that not only are foods with low GI numbers necessarily nutritious but that the numbers could vary depending on the lab conducting the testing.
You can look for and often find GI index ratings using the "International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values 2021" published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This index lists about 4,000 food items—about 60% more than thở the index published back in 2008.
Can Cereal Be Healthy?
Some breakfast cereals are more nutritious than thở others. There are many processed cereals on the market that are full of extra calories, carbohydrates, and added sugar—none of which are helpful for people with diabetes.
To make sure you’re meeting your nutrition goals, go for whole-grain cereals that have no more than thở 6 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Whole-grain cereals tend to tát have more fiber and often contain high-protein ingredients lượt thích nuts. Whole grains have also been shown to tát reduce the risk of heart disease, which is common in people with diabetes.
If you have diabetes, a good time to tát eat cereal is before you exercise. Physical activity helps to tát burn sugar (glucose).
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If you take an oral medication or insulin to tát manage your blood sugar, you'll likely need to tát eat carbohydrates before exercise to tát prevent low blood sugar while working out.
If you have diabetes, choose breakfast cereal mindfully and pay attention to tát portions. Cereals that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals can help you meet your nutritional needs.
Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cereal
If you want to tát eat cereal for breakfast, here are some tips that can help you lower the carb nội dung and make the morning meal more diabetes-friendly.
- Try hot cereal: Oatmeal, quinoa, or another whole-grain blend can be a more nutritious version of a breakfast cereal. Add chopped nuts or nut butter for added fiber, protein, and healthy fat. For example, combine một nửa cup cooked oatmeal with 3/4 cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, topped with cinnamon.
- Stick to tát one serving: Portion out the cereal with a measuring cup to tát make sure you know how much you’re eating.
- Check the ingredients: The cereal is made with whole grains if the first ingredient on the list says “whole." Other grains in breakfast cereals can be “refined” and are not as nutritious.
- Skip sweeteners: Avoid adding dried fruit, sugar, or other sweeteners lượt thích agave, honey, or table sugar to tát cereal, which adds more calories and sugar.
- Add fiber: Increase the fiber nội dung of your breakfast with a serving of high-fiber fresh or frozen fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries. You can also boost nutrition and fiber by adding phân chia and flax seeds.
- Use plant-based milk: Unsweetened almond milk has fewer carbohydrates than thở cow's milk and still tastes great with cereal.
- Make a yogurt parfait: Skip the milk altogether and use low-fat Greek yogurt to tát boost the protein and reduce the carbohydrates in your cereal.
"Carbs" Is a Loaded Term
"Carbohydrates" refer to tát fiber, starch, and sugar. The term "total carbohydrates" on food labels refers to tát all three. In general, it's wise to tát eat more of the first type, some of the second, and only a little of the third.
Types of Whole Grains
When you’re shopping for cereal, look for the following words on the nutritional label to tát help make sure that you're choosing one that has whole grains:
- Brown rice
- Wheat bran
- Whole-grain buckwheat
- Whole-grain spelt flakes
- Whole-oat flour
- Whole-wheat flour
- Wild rice
Common Hidden Sweeteners in Cereal
Finding hidden sugars on an ingredients list can take some detective work. Here are a few terms that manufacturers use to tát describe the sweeteners that may be in a breakfast cereal:
- Agave nectar
- Brown sugar
- Cane crystals and sugar
- Corn sweetener and syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
Choosing the Right Brand
If you have diabetes, you can figure out which cereals work best for you by testing your blood sugar before you eat and two hours after you eat breakfast. If your blood sugar levels are on target, then you’ll know that cereal could be an option for you.
The following brands of cold cereal may help you keep your blood sugar stable and keep you feeling satisfied after breakfast:
- Barbara’s Bakery Puffins (cinnamon and honey rice)
- Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's
- Fiber One
- Kashi (certain varieties, such as Puffed Rice, GoLean)
- Kellogg’s All-Bran
- Kellogg’s Special K High Protein
- Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran
- Post Bran Flakes
If you have diabetes, eating breakfast can help you stabilize your blood sugar while ensuring you get vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your diet. However, many cold breakfast cereals are loaded with calories, carbohydrates, and sugar, sánh it's important to tát choose wisely. Foods with a low glycemic index rating are best if you have diabetes. Read the ingredients label on a breakfast cereal, stick to tát one serving, and avoid adding any sugary extras.
Frequently Asked Questions
If oatmeal is sánh good for diabetics, why shouldn't I eat instant oatmeal?
Of the three main types of oatmeal (steel-cut, rolled, and instant), instant oatmeal contains the most sugar and the least fiber. And its high GI rating (in the low 80s) means it's more likely to tát spike your blood sugar.
What about rolled oats as an alternative?
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Also known as old-fashioned oats, rolled oats are a better choice for people with diabetes. And for many people, the 10-minute cooking time is doable in the morning. But you can still bởi better than thở the 45 to tát 55 GI rating.
What can I bởi to tát make steel-cut oats taste better? It's too chewy.
That's the fiber, which contributes to tát this offering's low GI rating (usually, under 40). A simple solution is to tát soak the steel-cut oats in almond milk overnight. (Add some diced fruit and a dash of cinnamon for flavor.) By morning, the oatmeal will be soft. Plus, all you'll have to tát bởi is grab the Mason jar (and a spoon) before running out the door.