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Is Cream of Wheat Healthy: Nutrition, Calories, Ingredients
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Is Cream of Wheat Healthy: Nutrition, Calories, Ingredients

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 29
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5 min

Wheat cereal has been part of our breakfasts for many years, and this time, we bring you an in-depth evaluation of its characteristics and properties.

is cream of wheat healthy

Quick-to-prepare comfort foods are very convenient and appreciated at home, which is why Cream of Wheat porridge is popular among children and adults.

This creamy, sweet cereal has an interesting nutritional profile, providing healthy carbohydrates and iron, an essential mineral for improving hemoglobin levels and transporting oxygen throughout the body.

However, being a product with large-scale commercialization, it is very common to wonder if it is completely healthy or if there are contraindications for its consumption.

Join us for a closer look at the nutritional profile of this cereal.

What Is the Cream of Wheat?

Cream of Wheat is a brand of cereal commonly consumed at breakfast, prepared with enriched ground wheat kernels and milk. It has been marketed in the United States since 1893 in a ready-to-prepare boxed form, also known as farina.

It can be consumed by children and adults; however, it is a food that contains gluten, and it is important to be cautious when consuming it for sensitive or intolerant people.

Is Cream of Wheat Healthy?

Yes, Cream of Wheat is a healthy food as long as it is prepared with skim milk or plant-based alternatives such as almond or coconut milk.

This breakfast porridge is rich in complex carbohydrates that help provide energy for daily activities and is enriched with vitamins and minerals.

As it is made with the center of the wheat and the germ of the grain, the bran, which is the fibrous part of the grain, is left out. But it is a very versatile dish to which you can add seeds or ground wheat germ to improve the fiber content and obtain benefits for the digestive system.

How Is the Cream of Wheat Made?

Cream of Wheat is a comfort food made by cooking milled wheat with some milk until a thick creamy consistency is obtained. The original presentation is sugar-free, but there are other flavored presentations on the market that do contain sugar.

It was created at the end of the 19th century in North Dakota as a way to make better use of the part of the wheat that was not used to make flour since it was a time of scarcity and wheat supplies were depleted.

The family of milled cereals sold under the Cream of Wheat brand is currently owned by a United States-based company, B & G Foods.

Cooked Cream of Wheat can be eaten plain or served with cinnamon, fruits, seeds, and nuts as a topping, giving it great versatility. This quickly made it very popular, and it began to be marketed on a large scale.

Benefits of Cream of Wheat

It is an easily customizable cereal

Cream of Wheat can be prepared in different ways using the original version since it has no added flavors, so you can make sweet versions with fruits or savory versions with cheese and butter. It can be cooked in the microwave or on the stove according to your preferences.

Instant flavored versions such as chocolate, maple syrup, or brown maple sugar can be prepared in just a few minutes by adding only hot water to thicken it and mixing it with other spices.

It is beneficial for the nervous system

Cream of Wheat promotes brain function, neuron health, and oxygen transport to all body tissues thanks to its richness in calcium, B vitamins, and iron.

Reduces inflammation

Cream of Wheat contains selenium, a very important antioxidant to prevent inflammatory responses and strengthen the immune system to prevent various diseases.

What Ingredients Does Cream of Wheat Contain?

The original version of Cream of Wheat contains only ground wheat grains as a base ingredient which are enriched with different nutrients:

  • Ground wheat grains
  • Defatted wheat germ
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
  • Folic acid (Vitamin B9)

Flavored versions contain sugar, dyes, natural flavorings, and guar gum to improve consistency.

Cream of Wheat naturally contains gluten, which may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, with symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, and skin rash.

Due to health concerns, alternative gluten-free cereal boxes such as Cream of Rice or gluten-free oatmeal cereal are marketed.

Nutritional Facts

 The following table shows the most relevant nutrients of enriched wheat grain.

Nutritional table (per 100 g)

Calories/NutrientAmount
Calories (Kcal)366
Net Carbs (g)75.5 
Fiber (g)3.3 
Sugar (g)0.4 
Fats (Total)1.4 
Protein (g)10.6 
Calcium (mg)357 
Iron (mg)28.6 
Selenium (µg)20 
Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171660/nutrients

High in vitamins and minerals

Cream of Wheat is a vegetable source of many essential health nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. This rich nutritional profile makes it suitable for both omnivorous and vegetarian diets.

Low in protein

Cream of Wheat is primarily a source of complex carbohydrates containing only 3.18 g of protein per serving (30 g).

If consumed regularly, be sure to supplement the warm porridge with protein-rich options such as walnuts or almonds, or accompany it with scrambled eggs for a more complete meal.

Low in fats and calories

A 30-gram serving of Cream of Wheat contains only 0.4 g of fat and 110 calories. It is a great choice for a weight loss diet if consumed properly without exceeding the recommended serving size.

Keep in mind that by increasing the number of tablespoons of farina to prepare the porridge, using whole milk, and adding sugar, you will be adding calories and subtracting health benefits.

High in carbs

The main macronutrient in Cream of Wheat are carbohydrates, which should be taken into account if you want to follow a low carbohydrate diet since a 100 g serving of this cereal contains 75.5 grams of carbs.

FAQs

Does Cream of Wheat help gain weight?

Yes, if you exceed the recommended servings, you can gain weight because it is a high carbohydrate food.

Does Cream of Wheat lower cholesterol?

It is not directly related to cholesterol reduction; however, being a low-fat and cholesterol-free cereal, it can be safely consumed in a diet that seeks to reduce blood lipids and thus prevent heart disease.

Is Cream of Wheat just as healthy as oatmeal?

No, Cream of Wheat is a commercial brand of a grain that has been refined to give better consistency to the preparation, while cooked oatmeal is a whole grain that preserves its fiber, increasing its health properties.

A Word From Nutritionist

Cream of Wheat is a cereal consumed in large quantities worldwide; however, its popularity does not make it any healthier than other cereals such as pure whole grain oats.

When it comes to health benefits, it is better to select whole grains instead of refined grains such as Cream of Wheat.

Occasionally, you can add to your diet some enriched cereal, regular Cream of Wheat without added sugar or artificial flavors is the best option to get a better nutritional value on your breakfast plate.

But most of the time, opt for cereals that have not been processed. Basic regular oatmeal consists of nothing more than the oat kernel with no added ingredients. This allows the oats to retain their fiber, vitamins, and minerals without having to be enriched.

This means that the more processed the cereal is, the more nutritional properties it loses; therefore, companies are forced to enrich it by adding vitamins and minerals to market it as a healthy food.

Conclusion

Cream of Wheat is an easy-to-prepare product made from refined wheat grains, which is why it is very common to find this cooked cream at breakfast time in many homes.

It became popular when wheat supplies were scarce, and all parts of the grain had to be used to cover the population’s needs.

For a healthier diet, it is recommended to consume unrefined wheat grains and other cereals such as oats, amaranth, quinoa, and rice.

If you eat only instant cooking oatmeal instead of Cream of Wheat, you will not be enjoying the benefits of whole oats. Instant cooking oatmeal is a processed version that contains dyes and flavorings, just like the flavored versions of Cream of Wheat.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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