Best Cereals, Grain Foods Have Carbs to Fiber Ratio Less Than 10 to 1

The term 'whole grain' or wholemeal can be misleading when included in the information for various food products. Both Oatmeal and the breakfast cereal 'Cheerios' are wholegrain. They are healthier than breakfast cereals such as Corn Flakes and Special K, from which the bran and germ in the grains have been removed by processing. Processed grain also lack the minerals and many vitamins that are in the original grains.

So why is steel-cut oatmeal, particularly when cooked slowly as a porridge generally healthier than Cheerios? The reason is that for Cheerios and other processed cereals the flour is highly processed and the wheat bran and germ is added back to qualify for the whole grain status. A lot of sugar is also added. This means that these processed cereals digest almost immediately, whereas oatmeal in rolled oats takes much longer to digest. Oatmeal also has a higher fiber content. A recent study showed that people who ate oatmeal for breakfast felt fuller for longer than those who consumed the same number of calories in processed cereal. So how can you choose a healthy breakfast cereal when the ones listed as 'whole grain' may be flawed?

Components of a Whole Grain. Processing removes the bran and wheat germ that contains most of the nutrients
Components of a Whole Grain. Processing removes the bran and wheat germ that contains most of the nutrients | Source
Whole Grain bread can vary in terms of nutrients because of the other ingredients used when making the bread.
Whole Grain bread can vary in terms of nutrients because of the other ingredients used when making the bread. | Source
Processed breakfast cereals may contain whole grains, but the added sugar and processed flour degrades their value compared with rolled oats
Processed breakfast cereals may contain whole grains, but the added sugar and processed flour degrades their value compared with rolled oats | Source
Whole grains are very nutritious, by processing can remove most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Whole grains are very nutritious, by processing can remove most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber. | Source

The table below shows the amount of carbohydrate and fiber in a cup of flour produced from many whole grains.

Also shown, is the carbohydrate to fiber ratio.

For most grain flours the ratio is well below 10:1.

For rolled oats it is 6.8, for rye it is 5, hard white wheat it is 6.2, millet it is 8.6 and quinoa it is 9.

In contrast, Cornmeal has a ratio of 10.5 and brown rice 21.7, sorghum, and wild rice 12.

Carbohydrate and Fiber in Grain Flour ( 1 cup) and Carb to Fiber Ratio - Smallest at the Top

Flour ( 1 cup)
Calories
Carbohydrate (g)
Fiber (g)
Ratio Carbs to Fiver
bulgur
154
34.14
8.2
4.2
barley hulled
159
33.07
7.8
4.2
triticale
151
32.46
6.6
4.9
rye
152
34.14
6.8
5
wheat- red
147
32.03
5.5
5.8
wheat- hard white
154
34.16
5.5
6.2
Kamut
152
31.76
5
6.4
spelt
152
31.59
4.8
6.6
wheat- durum
153
32.01
4.82
6.6
rolled oats
171
30.47
4.5
6.8
buckwheat
154
32.18
4.5
7.2
millet
170
32.78
3.8
8.6
quinoa
166
28.87
3.2
9
teff
165
32.91
3.6
9.1
amaranth
167
29.36
3
9.8
cornmeal
163
34.6
3.3
10.5
sorghum flour
162
34.86
3
11.6
sorghum
153
33.58
2.8
12
wild rice
161
33.71
2.8
12
rice- brown
166
34.76
1.6
21.7

The Secret for a Healthy Breakfast Cereal - The Carbohydrate to Fiber Ratio

If you compare these values for whole grain flours with those of common processed breakfast cereals the differences are startling.

A serving of Corn Flakes, for instance, includes about 24 g of carbohydrate and 1 g of fiber, leading to a crabs to fiber ratio of 24.

Special K (Kelloggs) has 22 g of carbohydrate and 1 g of fiber, leading to a ratio of 22.

In contrast, Fiber One (General Mills) has 12.5 g of carbohydrate and 7 g of fiber, giving a ratio of 1.8.

All-Bran (Kelloggs) 11.5 g of carbohydrate and 5 g of fiber, giving a ratio of 2.3.

Beware that instant oatmeal can be a trap as it may contain a lot of added sugar.

The tables below provide listing of the carbohydrates and fiber in a variety of breads and breakfast cereals. The ones with the lowest card to fiber ration are listed as the top.

Research Study of Best Criteria for Choosing Healthy Whole Grain Products

A major study examined a set of criteria that could potentially be used to assess the health value of various breakfast cereals and products in terms of their Whole Grain contents:

► The industry-sponsored Whole Grain stamp

► WG as the first ingredient

► WG as the first ingredient without added sugars

► The word ‘whole’ before any grain in the ingredients

► The total carbohydrate to fiber ratio (target 10:1 or less)

The study examined 545 grain products or fiber, sugars, sodium, energy, trans-fats and price using the above criteria.

The study found that the 10:1-ratio was the best in showing the largest differences, for products with ratios above and below 10:1.

Products achieving the 10:1-ratio also contained on average:

► less sugar

► less sodium

► lower risk of trans-fats being and ingredient.

The conclusion was that the 10:1-ratio clearly identified the healthiest Whole Grain products.

Rule of Thumb Guide for Calculating the Carbs to Fiber Ratio

You can do this easily by looking for Total Carbohydrate and Fiber contents on the Food Value labels attached to most products. Usually the listings are adjacent on the list. Several examples are shown in the images. It is a simply matter of doing some mental arithmetic. Divide the Total Carbohydrates by 10 which simply means shifting the decimal point to the left. For example, 23 becomes 2.3; 39 becomes 3.9. If this calculated value is less than the listed value for the fiber, the carbs to fiber ratio will be less than 10:1.

Food Value Label for Whole Grain Cheerios, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio
Food Value Label for Whole Grain Cheerios, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio | Source
Food Value Label for Special K, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio
Food Value Label for Special K, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio | Source
Food Value Label for Rolled Oats, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio
Food Value Label for Rolled Oats, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio | Source
Food Value Label for Alll bran, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio
Food Value Label for Alll bran, showing the Carbs to Fiber Ratio | Source

Carbohydrate and Fiber in Bread and the Carb to Fiber Ratio, with Highest Ratio at the top

Bread ( 1 serving)
Carbohydrate (g)
Fiber(g)
Carb to Fiber Ratio
Whole Wheat Bread
28
4
7
Pumpernickel Bread
34
4
8.5
Rye Bread
26
3
8.7
Boston Brown Bread
40
4
10
Sourdough Bread
24
2
12
Cornbread
26
2
13
Raisin Bread
27
2
13.5
Pita Bread
34
2
17
Bread Stick
40
2
20
English Muffin
60
3
20
French Bread
40
2
20
White Bread
25
1
25
Bagel (Egg Base)
31
1.2
25.8
Bagel (Water Base)
31
1.2
25.8
Rolls
39
1
39
Muffins
34
0.1
340
Croissant
54
0.1
540

Carbohydrate and Fiber in Breakfast Cereals and the Carb to Fiber Ratio, with Highest Ratio at the top

Breakfast Cereal (1 cup)
Calories
Carbohydrate (g)
Fiber(g)
Carb to Fiber Ratio
Fiber One (General Mills)
30
12.5
7
1.8
All-Bran (Kelloggs)
40
11.5
5
2.3
GOLEAN Cereal (Kashi)
140
30
10
3
Cheerios (General Mills)
100
20
3
6.7
Wheaties (General Mills)
75
16.5
2.25
7.3
Wheat Chex (General Mills)
120
28.5
3.75
7.6
Multi Grain Cheerios (General Mills)
110
23
3
7.7
Total (General Mills)
75
17.25
2.25
7.7
Kix (General Mills)
137.5
31.25
3.75
8.3
Smart Start Healthy Heart (Kelloggs)
287.5
57.5
6.25
9.2
Eggo Cereal Maple Syrup (Kelloggs)
120
22
2
11
Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills)
82.5
16.5
1.5
11
Raisin Bran Crunch (Kelloggs)
190
45
4
11.3
Oatmeal Crisp Crunchy Almond (General Mills)
220
46
4
11.5
Yogurt Burst Cheerios Vanilla (General Mills)
90
18
1.5
12
Life (Quaker)
90
18.75
1.5
12.5
Basic 4 (General Mills)
200
43
3
14.3
Special K (Kelloggs)
120
22
1
22
Lucky Charms (General Mills)
82.5
16.5
0.75
22
Reeses Puffs (General Mills)
90
16.5
0.75
22
Cookie Crisp (General Mills)
75
16.5
0.75
22
Count Chocula (General Mills)
82.5
17.25
0.75
23
Cocoa Puffs (General Mills)
82.5
17.25
0.75
23
Corn Flakes (Kelloggs)
100
24
1
24
Honey Smacks (Kelloggs)
75
18
0.75
24
Crispix (Kelloggs)
110
25
1
25
Smorz (Kelloggs)
120
25
1
25
Mini-Swirlz Cinnamon Bun (Kelloggs)
120
25
1
25
Product 19 (Kelloggs)
100
25
1
25
Special K Red Berries (Kelloggs)
110
25
1
25
Cinnamon Toast Crunch (General Mills)
97.5
18.75
0.75
25
Froot Loops (Kelloggs)
120
26
1
26
Corn Chex (General Mills)
120
26
1
26
Golden Grahams (General Mills)
90
19.5
0.75
26
Frosted Flakes (Kelloggs)
82.5
20.25
0.75
27
Apple Jacks (Kelloggs)
120
28
1
28
Corn Pops (Kelloggs)
120
28
1
28
Trix (General Mills)
120
28
1
28
Franken Berry (General Mills)
130
29
1
29
Coco Pops (Kelloggs)
153
35
0.7
50
Rice Krispies Treats Cereal (Kelloggs)
90
19.5
0.1
195
Frosted Krispies (Kelloggs)
82.5
20.25
0.1
202.5
Rice Chex (General Mills)
100
23
0.1
230
Rice Krispies (Kelloggs)
150
36.25
0.1
362.5

© 2015 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 5 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for this very valuable nutrition lesson. The explanations are very helpful and now I can explain why I choose old fashioned oatmeal over instant, over over all those sugary boxed stuff. Great presentation!


wiserworld profile image

wiserworld 14 months ago

Thanks for sharing this. Not all cereals look as nutritious as advertised. Very informative!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 14 months ago from New York

Good research here with a little more knowledge added to our arsenal about whole grain. Thanks for the info.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 14 months ago from Oklahoma

Very helpful health analysis of cereals.


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 14 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

Very informative. Certain words describing cereal can be confusing.

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