Do You Want Cereal With That Sugar?

“There is at least as much sugar in several kids’ cereals as there is in as a glazed doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts”.  This is what consumer reports found when they analyzed the top 27 cereals marketed to children.  In fact, they found that “2 cereals are more than 50% sugar, and nine others are more than 40% sugar”.   What’s even worse is that “several cereals sold in the U.S. had more sugar and sodium than the same brands sold overseas”. 

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is time to take a closer look at what we are serving our kids and ourselves (because we all know that kids aren’t the only ones eating these cereals).  The following kids’ cereals rated best and worst according to Consumer Report’s nutrition score:

Highest rated:

  • Cheerios (General Mills)
  • Kix (General Mills)
  • Life (Quaker Oats)
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills)

Lowest rated:

  • Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch (Quaker Oats)
  • Cap’n Crunch (Quaker Oats)
  • Rice Krispies (Kellogg’s)
  • Apple Jacks (Kellogg’s)
  • Fruit Loops (Kellogg’s)
  • Golden Crisp (Post)
  • Honey Smacks (Kellogg’s)
  • Corn Pops (Kellogg’s)

How can you determine if a cereal is a good choice or not?  Take a look at the nutrition label and the ingredient list for the following things:

  • Always look at the serving size. (A serving often ranges from ¾ cup – 1 ¼ cup)
  • Try to choose a cereal with a minimum of 2 gm of fiber per serving
  • Pick cereals with no more than 9 gm of sugar per serving
  • Look for the word “whole” in front of the first ingredient on the label (i.e. whole wheat, whole grain oats)
  • For weight management, take a look at the calorie level and try to choose the cereals that give you more volume for the calories

If you are having trouble switching from a sugary cereal to a healthier variety, try adding fruit to cereal for a natural sweetness.  Or, gradually reduce the sugary cereals by mixing half of a sugary cereal with half of a lower-sugar variety (i.e. mix Frosted Flakes with Corn Flakes or mix Cocoa Puffs with Kix).  If you just can’t seem to switch the type of cereal you eat, then portion control is the key.  Use smaller bowls to keep serving sizes down and add a piece of fruit on the side for volume and to add nutritional value to the meal.

Reference: Better Breakfasts: Some Cereals are More Than 50 Percent Sugar.  Consumer Labs.  November 2008: 16-17.