If you’ve perused your local grocery store’s oatmeal and breakfast cereal aisle, you’ve likely come across cream of wheat. This product has on the shelves for over 100 years in the United States, originally making its first appearance in Chicago. This hot and tasty breakfast food packs a nutritional punch to your diet containing a wealth of nutrients, including calcium, iron, and B vitamins. You can add various toppings like berries, bran (for extra fiber), jam, dried fruit (like raisins), and other high-nutrient options to boost your nutritional intake even more. So, Is Cream of Wheat Good for You?
Healthy Nutrients in Cream of Wheat
Cream of Wheat contains 303mg of calcium per cup, which is a good chunk of your recommended daily intake (1). As the phrase goes, calcium is needed “for strong bones and teeth,” and that much is true. Calcium is also used to help our body move messages from our brain to the rest of our body and release hormones and enzymes vital for our body to keep running as it should (2). We also know that calcium is needed for our vascular system (our blood vessels and artery system) and needed for muscle tightening and work during exercise (3). Luckily, your bowl of Cream of Wheat can get you on your way to getting the calcium you need containing 14mg of calcium per serving.
Chees is another great source of calcium; “Is Swiss Cheese Good for You?”
Iron is a vital nutrient that we cannot make ourselves and have to get from foods. This mineral is necessary for making hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that can carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. Iron is also used to make myoglobin, a lesser-known but equally important protein that provides oxygen to your muscles as they work (4). Without iron, we would be starving for oxygen, no matter how fast we breathed. Iron is best attained from meat, poultry, and seafood, and, while plant foods do contain iron, our body doesn’t absorb it as well from these sources.
Iron is also needed for physical growth and the proper functioning of body cells and your brain (5). To keep our body running, adult men require 8mg of iron a day, while women need 18mg a day. Cream of wheat contains 2.5mg of iron per serving, which makes it an “iron-rich food,” according to a recent release from the Integrative Pediatrics, LLC. This can get you well on your day to your daily intake (6).
Riboflavin is also called Vitamin B2 and is among the essential B vitamins we need to get from food. Riboflavin is part of coenzymes that our body uses for cell function, growth, development, and metabolism of fats and some drugs (7). It is recommended to consume 1.1-1.3mg of riboflavin per day to maintain a healthy diet, and cream of wheat contains 30-50% of your daily intake, depending on if you’re cooking it with water or milk (8). Now that’s a real nutrient boost.
Vitamin B6 is a little known water-soluble vitamin needed for protein metabolism and even cognitive development (this vitamin is required to synthesize neurotransmitters, which send signals within the brain and to the rest of the body, running our body system) (9). We have to consume vitamin B6, like many other vitamins, and it is recommended to consume 1.3mg per day for optimal health (9). Cream of wheat contains an astounding 1.79mg of this vitamin per serving.
Also called vitamin B9, folate is another required vitamin, functioning as a coenzyme our body utilizes to make nucleic acids (these form the DNA that makes up the genetic material of all of our body cells!) (10). The typical health problem from lack of folate is anemia, resulting in feeling weak and tired and can be life-threatening (11). Ensure you get your daily dose of folate, which for adults is 400mcg, to avoid developing this condition and keep your body healthy. That can start with a simple bowl of cream of wheat, containing 33% of your recommended daily intake.
Sunflower seeds contain several vitamins and mineral, including folate. Read the “9 Healthiest Seeds.”
Last but not least, niacin more commonly goes by the name vitamin B3. Niacin is metabolized into an active form called NAD, which is needed for over 400 different enzymatic reactions in our body. These reactions control everything from energy production to metabolism. It is recommended that you consume (as an adult) 14-16mg of niacin per day, and cream of wheat contains 39% of this recommended intake (12). Niacin can be challenging to get from foods, which is a great start toward fulfilling your vitamin needs.
In the end, Is Cream of Wheat Good for You?
Things to Look for in Your Cream of Wheat
Make sure you find unsweetened cream of wheat and limit the sugar in the toppings you use. Maple syrup and brown sugar are popular toppings for this breakfast food but add many empty calories to your healthy bowl. Most cream of wheat varieties are high in whole grains, which are great for your health (13). This also makes them high in fiber. This makes cream of wheat a better choice than some very processed breakfast oatmeal varieties in your grocery store. Ensure the cream of wheat you’re buying is low in sugar, high in fiber, and is made of whole grains, and enjoy this hot, filling breakfast item (while making a serious dent in your daily nutrient intake).