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Do ‘power food’ cereals make healthier breakfast foods?

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

There's a new kind of breakfast cereal gaining popularity with health-conscious eaters. It's not refined, contains no added sugar or salt, and is free of artificial additives. In fact, its ingredient list is surprisingly short (a good thing): chia seeds, buckwheat groats and hemp seeds. For a boost of flavour and natural sweetness, some blends also contain dried cranberries, apple, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla and/or ginger. The fact they're gluten free and vegan also doesn't hurt their appeal.

The new "power food" breakfast cereals go by names such as Qi'a, pronounced kee-ah, (Nature's Path), Chia Goodness (Ruth's Hemp Foods), Skinny B and Holy Crap (HapiFoods Group Inc.). Each combines chia seeds, hemp seeds and buckwheat groats for a morning meal that serves up plenty of plant protein, fibre and essential fatty acids your body can't make on its own.

In fact, one serving supplies more than a day's worth of alpha linolenic acid (1.8 to 3.3 grams), an omega-3 fatty acid that helps dampen inflammation in the body. (Women require 1.1 grams of ALA daily; men need 1.6 grams.)

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It doesn't take a lot of cereal to deliver on nutrition – and satisfy your appetite. Simply mix two tablespoons of cereal with 4 to 5 tablespoons of hot or cold water, milk, or any non-dairy milk, let stand for five minutes (this lets the chia seeds absorb water and expand), give it a stir and enjoy. I like the nutty flavour and crunchy texture. Add Greek yogurt and berries, and you've got a satisfying morning meal.

It's not just for breakfast though. The raw seeds can be added to yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, and muffin and pancake batters. I've even sprinkled the seeds over salads and soups. Be sure to give the box a few gentle shakes before opening to mix up the ingredients.

The breakdown Nature's Path Qi'a Chia, Buckwheat & Hemp Cereal Original

Per two tablespoons (30 g)

140 calories

7 g fat

0.5 g saturated fat

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0 grams trans fat

2.5 grams omega-6's fatty acids

2.5 grams omega-3 fatty acids (ALA)

0 milligrams sodium

13 grams carbohydrate

4 grams fibre

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0 grams sugar

6 grams protein

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is the national director of nutrition at BodyScience Medical. She can be seen Thursdays at noon on CTV News Channel's Direct. www.lesliebeck.com

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