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Healthy Breakfast: Corn Flakes vs. Shredded Wheat

Breakfast has been crowned the most important meal of the day, and it is crucial to consume a healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast in order to start your day off right. A nutritionally-sound breakfast packed with protein and fiber will give you the necessary energy to get through the morning and keep you going until lunch. A breakfast laden with sugar and fat will leave you with a mid-morning energy crash, most likely leaving your stomach rumbling before lunch.

cornflakes.jpgBelieve it or not, cereal can be a good breakfast option, assuming that you pick one that provides the right nutrients and lacks unnecessary sugars. Two of the most popular cereal choices on the market are Corn Flakes and Shredded Wheat. Looking at the nutrition facts for these (non-frosted) varieties, both will ultimately provide you a solid breakfast with which to start your day off right.

Nutrition of Corn Flakes

One cup of Corn Flakes contains about 100 calories, none of which are derived from fat. Per serving, this fat-free cereal holds:

  • 200mg of sodium
  • 2g of protein
  • 24g of carbohydrates (1g of fiber and 2.7g of added sugar)
  • 25mg potassium

A cup of Corn Flakes will also provide you with some of your daily micronutrients:

  • Iron: 45%
  • Thiamin (B1): 25%
  • Riboflavin (B2): 25%
  • Niacin (B3): 25%
  • Vitamin B6: 25%
  • Folate: 25%
  • Vitamin B12: 25%
  • Vitamin A: 10%
  • Vitamin C: 10%
  • Vitamin D: 10%

Nutrition of Shredded Wheat

One cup of Shredded Wheat contains slightly more calories per cup at 160 calories, 10 of which are from fat. This cereal, with 1g of fat also delivers the following:

  • 0mg of sodium
  • 5g of protein
  • 40g of carbohydrates (6g of fiber and 0g added sugar)
  • 190mg potassium

Shredded Wheat also contains certain micronutrients:

  • Calcium: 2%
  • Iron: 6%
  • Thiamin (B1): 10%
  • Niacin (B3): 15%
  • Magnesium: 15%
  • Zinc: 10%
  • Copper: 8%

The Better Choice?

When it comes to picking out your morning bowl of cereal, assuming you eat them in their purest form, without adding additional sugar etc., both options will provide you with adequate nutrition to start off your day. However, looking at the bigger picture, Shredded Wheat tends to take home the gold, beating out Corn Flakes in a few key components. Shredded Wheat contains no added sugar or sodium, and it contains more fiber, protein and whole grains. The boost in fiber and protein will work to keep you fuller longer, meaning you are less likely to dive into snacks or higher-calorie lunch options later on.

Overall, more and more breakfast-cereal makers are offering more nutritious, low-sugar options. The trick is spotting them amongst the Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms and other sugar concoctions occupying the shelves. Even cereals that boast "high fiber" or "whole grains" can be hiding much added sugar. Rely on the Nutrition Facts panel on the side of the box and ignore any big and bold health claims made on the front. Cereals containing more added sugars and starches will more often than not leave you hungrier later in the morning. And while fiber-rich cereals, like Shredded Wheat, may be slightly more calorically dense than other options such as Corn Flakes, giving your body some extra calories at breakfast will give you the necessary energy to start your day off right, and will help you make healthier choices later on in the day.

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Sarah Dreifke is a freelance writer based in DeKalb, IL with a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in both Dietetics and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is working towards a combined Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship at Northern Illinois University.

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