Start small and be reasonable. That's a good way to build a lifetime of heart health. Change one thing at a time (eating habit or exercise regimen) and do it until it becomes a habit. Then pick your next change.
Sugary breakfast cereal was the first habit I broke. I was a Honey Bunches of Oats addict; I would happily eat it twice a day. But I did some research into heart health and began to understand the importance of fiber as well as the opportunity to get it everyday with breakfast. My goal was to find a cereal high in soluble fiber and relatively low in sugar. My final selection was Kashi Go Lean Crunch.
Why Kashi and not Cheerios? Because Kashi Crunch has THREE times the amount of soluble fiber as Cheerios. Also when I compared their second and third ingredients I decided Kashi was closer to "real food".
Side by side comparison:
The first three ingredients in regular Cheerios: whole grain oats, modified corn starch and sugar. If I were shopping today, not knowing what was implied by the second ingredient and seeing sugar as the third ingredient would have told me all I needed to know. The box would be back on the shelf and nowhere near my basket. But as a beginner I looked up modified corn starch:
Modified starch...are prepared by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch, thereby changing the properties of the starch. Modified starches are used in practically all starch applications, such as in food products as a thickening agent, stabilizer or emulsifier; inpharmaceuticals as a disintegrant; as binder in coated paper.
Whoa! Thickening agent/stabilizer/disintergrant/coated paper binder? Not with my breakfast thank you!
The first three ingredients in Kashi Go Lean Crunch: Seven whole grains & seasame (it takes four lines to list them), soy protein concentrate and evaporated cane juice (aka: less processed, less refined sugar). I wondered about 'soy protein concentrate' so I looked it up too. Kashi's website describes it as "protein directly from soybeans". Suspicious of something called "concentrate" I continued to look for information on other websites. I was surprised and happy and to discover most research agreed that soy bean concentrate retains most of the fiber of the original soybean... at least it's from real food.
For more information about fiber, both soluble and insoluble, I recommend the American Heart Association's website. I linked to it earlier in this post but I also suggest looking through it further on your own. www.heart.org/HEARTORG
One more thing! Some grocery stores make picking a heart healthy cereal more complicated then it needs to be because they separate the cereal into TWO aisles in very separate sections of the store. Keep that in mind if you go looking for Kashi. It tends to be kept in the health food section.