If diabetes runs in your family or your doctor discovers warning signs that you might develop the condition, your diet is more important than ever. Cream of Wheat, a hot cereal made from farina, also known as ground wheat, is likely a better breakfast choice than chocolate donuts or sugary pastries. On the other hand, whole-grain hot or cold cereals may make a better choice for people serious about diabetes prevention. Your physician can make the best recommendations about foods that will help you avoid diabetes and other health problems.
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Cream of Wheat cereals are made of refined wheat, rather than grains that still contain the fiber-rich bran and germ. Whole grains are a crucial tool in the prevention of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Whole grains provide the highest amount of dietary fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels. A one-cup serving of Cream of Wheat cereal provides only five percent of the dietary fiber recommended for the day, compared to an average of 25 percent provided by some whole grain hot cereals.
A diet that wreaks havoc with blood sugar levels puts you at an increased risk of insulin resistance, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Insulin resistance may put some people at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In the cereal category of foods, Cream of Wheat cereals are among the highest in terms of glycemic load. According to the Harvard Medical School website, a food’s glycemic load score plays an important role in controlling insulin and blood sugar levels. The lower the glycemic load score, the least impact the food will have on those levels. A serving of bran flakes, for example, is rated at 4, while orange soda is 23. Regular Cream of Wheat has a score of 17, while instant has a score of 22.
The makers of Cream of Wheat make a whole grain version, which contains more dietary fiber. But If you can’t live without your morning bowlful of traditional Cream of Wheat, make a few tweaks to make the breakfast more of a tool in diabetes prevention. Choose the regular version of the hot cereal rather than instant to lower the meal’s glycemic load. In addition, top your cereal with ingredients recommended by the ADA for diabetes prevention. Good choices include walnuts or flaxseeds for omega-3 fats, and fresh fruit for added fiber. If you prepare your Cream of Wheat with milk instead of water, choose skim milk rather than whole to lower the meal’s overall saturated fat content.
While cream of wheat is lower in dietary fiber than other hot and cold cereals, it does provide some benefits. It has only 3 grams of sodium per serving. Low sodium diets are crucial to diabetes and heart disease prevention, according to the ADA. In addition, Cream of Wheat contains nutrients that boost overall good health. A bowl of the hot cereal is a good source of iron, calcium, B vitamins and trace minerals such as selenium.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Diabetes Association; Prevention; Make Wise Food Choices
- Harvard Medical School: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: The Whole Grain Guide
- MayoClinic.com: Glycemic Index Diet -- What's Behind the Claims
- HealthAliciousNess: USDA Nutrition Comparisons
- Product Information