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Can a breakfast cereal boost your immunity?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., November 4, 2009 - 11:01am

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I don't know about you, but when I heard on the news that Kellogg's had slapped a claim on their Krispies cereal boxes that it "now helps support your child's IMMUNITY," I turned up the volume. Really? Boosting immunity with Cocoa Krispies and Frosted Krispies? Admittedly, I'm as freaked out about getting sick as the next person (hello cold and flu season and H1N1!), but what's in those boxes of cereal that will really help me? (Find 3 research-tested immunity-boosting superfoods here.)

Turns out Kellogg's upped the amounts of Vitamins A, C and E in the cereals from 10 percent of the recommended daily value to 25 percent. (Are you getting enough of the nutrients your body needs? Find out here.) And they're correct in saying that those vitamins play an important role in the body's immune function. But that science supports the vitamins, not the vitamins plus sugary cereal.

Needless to say, at breakfast tomorrow I won't be pouring myself a bowl of Krispies cereal. More likely I'll sit down to a bowl of yogurt. (If you're looking to lose weight, try one of these 10 Breakfasts That Fight Fat instead.)

Here's why: Probiotics, so-called "good bacteria" found in yogurt, are touted as helping prevent GI upsets. According to a recent review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, regular consumption of probiotics help your immune system work better, reduce the incidence of intestinal infections and improve digestion.

I hope to boost my immune system with these breakfast recipes containing probiotic-rich yogurt:

Blueberries with Lemon Cream: Blending vanilla yogurt and reduced-fat cream cheese creates a topping that's as virtuous as it is delicious. Any fresh berry can be used in this recipe.

Apricot Smoothie: Canned apricot halves blend deliciously with yogurt in a tangy and refreshing smoothie.

Breakfast Parfait: A little low-fat yogurt plus some vitamin-rich fruit and you've just started your day right, nutritionally speaking.

Yogurt Shopping Tips:

  • Look for a "Live & Active Cultures" seal from the National Yogurt Association on the label, which signifies that the yogurt contains a set minimum amount of two particular types of beneficial bacteria. (While it's not a guarantee of probiotic power—the bacterial counts don't differentiate between added probiotic organisms and the bacteria that's used to ferment the yogurt—the seal is a helpful start.)
  • And if you really want to know about the science backing a product's "probiotic power," contact the manufacturer.

TAGS: Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Health Blog, Breakfast, Food & health news, Healthy kids, Nutrition, Wellness

Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

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