Shredded wheat is one of many boxes of cereals staring at you from store shelves, and it's actually one of your better choices for nutritional value. Unlike most breakfast cereals, shredded wheat is not loaded with added sugar, and it also supplies good amounts of several key vitamins and minerals. It's versatile, too, so you don't have to limit yourself to eating it with a splash of milk and a spoon.
Compared to most other types of breakfast cereal, plain shredded wheat contains less than 1 gram of sugar per cup. This means that shredded wheat is a smart breakfast choice, especially considering that women should limit their sugar intake to 24 grams daily, and men shouldn't have more than 36 grams, according to the American Heart Association. Too much sugar can increase your risk of unhealthy weight gain, obesity and heart disease. Before pouring yourself a bowl of shredded wheat, however, know that the low amount of sugar is found only in the regular variety. A cup of frosted shredded wheat contains 11.6 grams of sugar, which is almost 3 teaspoons.
The fiber content in a serving of shredded wheat is another advantage of this cereal. One cup of plain shredded wheat contains 6.1 grams of fiber, which makes it a high-fiber food, as it contains more than 5 grams of fiber per serving. That translates to about 15 to 25 percent of the 25 to 38 grams of fiber, respectively, that women and men should aim to consume each day. A cup of frosted shredded wheat contains 5 grams of fiber per cup. Getting plenty of fiber each day is a healthy way to help protect yourself against certain health conditions, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, as well as reduce your risk of constipation. Further, an article published in the journal "JAMA Internal Medicine" in 2011 reported that the fiber in cereal is the best type of fiber for cutting your risk of certain health conditions, although part of the benefit might come from the other nutrients in cereal.
Vitamins and Minerals
One cup of plain shredded wheat contains 1.22 milligrams of iron, which is 15 percent of the 8 milligrams men need each day and 7 percent of the 18 milligrams women should get. Iron helps you produce red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. The same cup of plain shredded wheat also delivers 1.49 milligrams of zinc. That's 19 percent of the 8 milligrams of zinc women require each day and 14 percent of the 11 milligrams men need. Zinc helps protect your immune system and promotes normal wound healing. Shredded wheat also supplies niacin, folate and potassium.
Creative Ways to Eat Shredded Wheat
In addition to pouring milk over a bowl of shredded wheat, there are other ways to incorporate the food into your diet. Top a serving of low-fat plain yogurt with crushed shredded wheat and fresh berries, or break several pieces of shredded wheat over a bowl of fresh fruit salad with bananas, kiwi, strawberries and apples. Crushed shredded wheat will increase the nutritional value of a bowl of oatmeal, as well as add a bit of crunch to the food.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cereals Ready-to-Eat, POST, Shredded Wheat, Original Spoon-Size
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cereals Ready-to-Eat, POST, Shredded Wheat, Lightly Frosted, Spoon-Size
- American Heart Association: Sugars and Carbohydrates
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iron
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- JAMA Internal Medicine: Dietary Fiber Intake and Mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study