LATF USA: Five Breakfast Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Cereal & Oatmeal

5 breakfast nutrition facts, nicolette pace

So many questions when it comes to the famous ‘most important meal of the day:’ breakfast. 

Nicolette M. Pace MS, RDN, CDE, CBC,CDN, CFCS ,FAND is the founder of NutriSource Inc., which provides high quality education, counseling and nutrition services. She has also served as Director of Clinical Nutrition at the NYHQ/Silvercrest Center where she provided both administrative and direct care for sub-acute and chronically ill patients.

Here are 5 Breakfast need-to-know’s from Nicolette: 

Kids Cereal

These sugary treats have classically been under fire by health advocates. Today’s versions have added fiber (and vitamins) to make them more health friendly. Unfortunately though many still deliver over 10 grams of sugar per serving and do not contain other nutrients (healthy fat and protein) your child needs for brain growth and development.

Unsweetened Grain Cereal

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because there is no added sugar in these flakes or puffs that it is a healthy choice. Most in this category are refined starches and do not have intact whole grain nutrients and fiber for good health, digestion and appetite control. Since they are light in weight (1 cup serving = one ounce= 110 calories) you’ll need several portions to feel full.

Adult Healthy Cereal

Here’s where we take those refined flakes and puffs and add-in a variety of ingredients such as crunchy nuts, tasty dried fruits, chocolate or other candy-like morsels with the belief that these super food ingredients make them healthy. What you should realize is that is gives you a speed pass to more calories (50% more) in the same small serving which will outweigh the nutrient value of the added ingredients.

Instant Oatmeal

All oatmeal is not created equal. With the convenience of instant you are relaxing the health benefit. Processing methods involve cutting, rolling, pressing and partially cooking whole oats so that essentially “pre-digests” the starch making it more glycemic (fast absorbing, greater blood sugar impact) . Be even more careful with instant oatmeal with added sugar or sweeteners as this reinforces sugar cravings.


This health food craze leftover is still going strong in health appeal but with a meager 1/3 cup portion size it is also one of the most calorie dense choices at 125-175 calories per serving. While most granolas have healthy intact whole grains they are combined with “trail mix” type ingredients which contribute excess sugar and in some instances unhealthy trans fats. This is a cereal where you must be very careful in measuring and mindful of how you use it.

Healthy Foods Compete for Best in Class

Its natural to want the best.

Can you decide which of the following healthy foods are better for you?  They all have reputation for delivering good nutrition but many wonder if one has an advantage over the other.   There is a fine line between them and it can be confusing to choose as factors like nutrients, calories, appetite, and taste preference have to be considered.

The winners may surprise you, but if you learn why, this information can help you to make healthy choices and see how many foods can fit into a healthy diet.

1) 100% orange juice vs. skim latte

Ounce for ounce, orange juice wins out when you look at the natural energy you will get when you drink it up. While the latte contains some protein and beneficial calcium from skim milk, in just one cup, orange juice provides a nutrient dense hit of 100% of your daily needs for vitamin C and a good source of heart healthy folic acid and potassium.

2) Egg white whole grain sandwich vs. oatmeal

For longer lasting fullness go for the high fiber sandwich that contains needed protein to help you manage your hunger. While some oatmeal can be steel cut whole grain and a satisfying starch choice, most are refined and tend to be flavored with lots of sugar which will leave you feeling empty in just a couple of hours.

3) Greek yogurt with natural fruit vs. skim milk, fruit, whey protein smoothie

In the same 200 calories, the smoothie will give you an edge over the immensely popular Greek strained yogurt which has some of the water removed to concentrate the protein and to enhance creaminess.  Boosting a smoothie with whey will double the protein with lean calories for a quick meal or post workout recovery.

4) Almonds vs. Pistachios

While tree nuts like almonds have a heart healthy fat profile, vitamin E, B complex vitamins and fiber, new evidence is suggesting that pistachios are a surprising treasure trove of numerous additional nutrients like antioxidant carotenoids for eye health, polyphenols and copper for antioxidant support and plant sterols to help improve cholesterol, a real superfood advantage!

5) Turkey vs. chicken

Outside of processed meats which generally wipe out most of the health benefit, when you compare naturally raised poultry you will discover that turkey a larger, more muscular animal is a leaner choice with less cholesterol and saturated fat and contains more calcium and essential amino acids like methionine for muscle and body tissue needs.

6) Low fat mozzarella cheese vs. Low fat Feta cheese

An interesting finding will reveal that that low fat feta cheese is a better choice and more versatile on many levels. While all cheeses are sodium rich, feta is salt brine cured and by simply rinsing or soaking it a great deal of the sodium can be washed away. It is also a stronger more flavorful cheese which can help you get by with less for calorie savings and a flavorful addition to omelets, salads or flat bread pizzas.

7) Whole grain crackers vs. baked potato chips

While baked chips will be lower in fat than those that are fried, a whole grain cracker may provide you with more B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin and thiamin, plus iron and bulking fiber to round out a meal then  feather light chips which are tasty but unfortunately, mostly empty calories.

8) Brown rice vs. quinoa

Not all brown rice is created equal and many brands do not have the fiber or nutrient profile you would expect due to refinement.  Quinoa, a grass seed, is a rare plant source of complete protein and rich in minerals potassium, magnesium, iron and copper and exceeds many of the values found in true, whole grain brown rice. It is also waistline friendly and can be a lower calorie option for dieting.

9)  Peanut butter vs. Hummus

The benefits of calorie dense peanut butter may be outweighed by its legume cousin, chickpea spread when you consider that even with commercial brands, hummus will have only ¼ of the calories of peanut butter in a standard 2 tablespoons. Making it yourself will retain the fiber which may be lost in processing and lead to lower calories by using less oil..

10) Whole grain bread vs. sprouted grain bread

Sprouted grain bread, made from a variety of whole grains and legumes, has a slight advantage over whole grain breads. This is due to the blend of nutrient dense ingredients and a bit more protein and trace minerals brought about from the sprouting process which helps to release locked in nutrients. Nutrients aside, taste and texture are different and may not be enough to convince you to use it exclusively. In this instance, you’ll have to decide for yourself!

Remember, nutrition is both a science and an art so feel free to exericise your palate and flex your mind as you explore lots of menu options that can provide the very best for you!

By Nicolette M. Pace MS,RD,CDE,CDN,CFCS

Be Healthy! Be Happy!