Most breakfast cereals are made from processed grains and often contain a mix of the following ingredients:
- Grains: The main ingredient in many breakfast cereals is grains. Common grains include wheat, rice, corn, and oats. These grains can be whole, or they can be processed to varying degrees (e.g., flaked, puffed, shredded).
- Sweeteners: Many cereals, especially those marketed to children, contain added sweeteners to enhance flavor. These sweeteners could be sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or other artificial sweeteners.
- Fats: Some cereals may contain added fats or oils to help with texture or flavor. These can come in the form of hydrogenated oils, palm oil, or other types of vegetable oils.
- Preservatives: To extend shelf life, some cereals may contain preservatives such as BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) or BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole).
- Salt: Salt is commonly added to cereals to enhance flavor and can sometimes be found in high quantities, especially in cereals that are savory or salty in flavor.
- Flavorings: These can include natural or artificial flavors added to give the cereal a specific taste. This could include vanilla flavor, chocolate flavor, fruit flavors, etc.
- Fiber: Some cereals have added fiber to increase their dietary fiber content. This fiber can be naturally occurring in the grain or can be added in the form of inulin, cellulose, or other types of fiber.
- Fortifications: Many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals to increase their nutritional value. Common fortifications include vitamins A, C, D, and B vitamins, as well as minerals such as iron and zinc.
- Colorings: Especially in brightly colored cereals, artificial or natural colorings may be added to make the cereal visually appealing.
- Add-Ins: Some cereals contain add-ins like dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, etc.), nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.), or seeds (flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.) to enhance flavor and nutrition.
- Leavening Agents: Certain cereals may contain leavening agents, which are used to help puff or flake the grains during processing.
It’s always a good idea to check the ingredient list on the cereal package to know exactly what’s in the product you are considering buying. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you might consider cereals with whole grains as the first ingredient, low sugar content, and a good source of fiber.