Bran Cereals: Natural Weight-Loss Food

You might not look forward to it, but you still pour that bowl of bran cereal every day to keep yourself regular. Little did you know your bowlful was fighting fat, too.

First, let's define what we mean by bran. Bran is simply the outer layer of any kernel of grain, where most of the fiber and nutrients reside. Here, we're just focusing on wheat bran cereals. (Learn more information about the weight-loss benefits of oats and oat bran by following the link.)


Now, back to fighting fat. Fiber, especially the insoluble kind, fills you up. It has an amazing capacity to absorb water and expand. This bulk fools your belly into thinking you've eaten a lot, so it can shut down your hunger signals.

Moreover, bran fiber requires a bit of chewing. That gives your body time to realize you're full before you shove in more. You complete the fat-fighting breakfast scene if you pour skim milk over that bowl of bran, mix in fresh fruit, and have a glass of orange juice on the side.

Health Benefits

No other food packs such a wallop of insoluble fiber at one sitting. There's no underestimating the health boost from a daily bowl of bran cereal. Here's a chronicle.

Constipation: Eat enough insoluble fiber, such as bran, and you're practically guaranteed to avoid constipation -- as long as you increase your fluid intake, too. By absorbing water, bran creates bulk, which stimulates the intestines to contract and move things along.

Colon cancer: By increasing stool speed, bran ensures that bowel contents don't stagnate, so that means carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, can't hang around long enough to cause trouble. And if carcinogens are present, a bulkier stool dilutes them. Other digestive-tract conditions: A soft, swift-moving stool may prevent and ease the pain associated with many other digestive conditions, such as hemorrhoids.

All this should be enough to convince you to dig into your bowl of bran with vigor. It gets your system going in the morning while providing as much as half the suggested fiber goal of 20 to 35 grams a day.


Selection and Storage

You don't need to swallow bran cereal as if it's medicine. Try different brands to find one you like. Bran-bud cereals provide a lot of fiber per spoonful, but flakes may be more palatable. Check labels to compare fiber and calories. Some raisin brans supply almost twice the calories. Be sure to note serving sizes; they may be very different from your usual bowlful. Compare sugar, sodium, and fat, too. But don't get paranoid about these ingredients. You're better off getting the fiber. You can make up for extra sugar, sodium, and fat at other meals.

Store opened cereals in a dry location. Once opened, they will keep for a few months before going stale. If you live in a humid environment, transfer cereals to plastic bags and refrigerate them.


Preparation and Serving Tips

As American breakfasts go, a bowl of bran cereal with fat-free milk is much, much healthier than an old-fashioned farm breakfast. While having bran for breakfast may be the best way to wake up your digestive tract, it's just as healthy as an afternoon pick-me-up or a bedtime snack. Dare to be different; top yours with nonfat yogurt instead of milk. Or sprinkle bran cereal on yogurt, salads, or cut-up fruit. Use it to coat fish or to top a tuna casserole. These are painless ways to add filling fiber to your family's menu.

So let's recap. Eating a high-fiber meal is great for weight loss. High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. No other food packs as much fiber as a bowl of bran cereal. This food is an easy addition to a weight-loss diet.

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