Cereals are one of the most admired breakfast items. They are packed in attractive cereal boxes to make them more tempting for the consumers. With the increasing market competition, the manufacturers try to introduce innovative cereal box designs to make their products stand out. in addition to the attractive display, the cereal boxes also highlight important information. The cereal box maker works on minute details to draw attention to various nutritional facts.

When it comes to health benefits, most of the cereals you bought from the market are often fortified.  People may wonder whether these fortified cereals are as healthy as claimed on the cereal box packaging.  According to the latest provisions by the state cereal box project, it has become mandatory for the manufacturers to highlight all the nutritional details on the food packaging. So whether a cereal is fortified or not, you can know it from the cereal box display case. A fortified cereal contains an additional amount of vitamins and mineral which is not present in them naturally. The main aim of fortification is to improve the level of nutrients in food. Cereals, milk, grains, and juices are the most common fortified foods.

Which are Fortified Cereals?

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Food manufacturers fortify ready-to-eat and pre-packaged cereals. Even hot cereals like oatmeal are sometimes also fortified. Most of the fortified cereals are not naturally healthy except the ones made with whole grains. They are rich in fibers and proteins. Others contain almost zero nutrients. For example, Kellogg’s mini cereal boxes for Frosted Flakes contain no fibers and only 1 gram protein per 3/4th cup. You can tell if the cereal is fortified by looking at its cardboard box. If it contains added nutrients, it will be mentioned on the packaging. A cereal that is less heavily processed is less likely to be fortified. Muesli is an example of non-fortified cereal containing whole oats, nuts, and dried fruits. Below is the list of some of the common nutrients used to fortify a product:

  • vitamin A
  • thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • niacin (vitamin B3)
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin D
  • folic acid
  • zinc
  • iron
  • calcium

Health Benefits of Fortified Cereals:

Eating fortified cereals help in preventing nutrient deficiencies.

  • Improved Nutrient Intake

Eating fortified cereals improve nutrient intake. Many people in the USA fall short of dietary recommendations for some minerals and vitamins. Boxes of cereals (fortified) boost the intake of folate and vitamins. They are especially beneficial for young children, vegetarians, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Various government agencies and food policy advocates use fortification to reduce nutrient deficiency in the large population.

  • Lower Risk of Birth Defects

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Fortifying cereal grains with folic acid/folate successfully reduced the risk of neural tube defects. It is a common birth defect especially in North America (16Trusted Source). Folate is vitamin B.  It is an important ingredient for growth and development. Women of childbearing age are recommended to consume 400mcg of folic acid daily. Fortified cereals are a good source of it.

Potential Downsides of Fortified Cereals:

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Although fortification enhances the nutrient content, still cereal is a processed food item and is not necessarily healthy. Most of the time, it is loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates. Many people eat it more than the recommended serving size which is not good for health. For example, 1 cup of Raisin Bran Crunch contains 13 grams of additive sugar. If you double the portion size, the amount of sugar intake also increases. American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women and men should limit their sugar intake to about 25 to 37.5 grams respectively. This means that consuming a bowl or two of fortified cereals every day can easily put you close to the required limit. Increased intake of sugar results in an increased risk of chronic diseases like obesity, heart attack, and diabetes.

Misleading Health Claims:

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Most of the manufacturers label their cereals with misleading claims like “low-fat” or “whole-grain”. This information is deceptive because the main ingredients are usually sugar and refined grain. For example, Honey Nut Cheerios cereal boxes are marketed as helping to lower down the cholesterol. But still, 1 cup of serving contains almost 12 grams of sugar. Such misleading information on the cereal boxes leads people to overeat the food. Studies revealed that such over-eating contributes to obesity risk.

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