Tag Archives: cheerios

To sugar or not to sugar

When I was little, my favorite cereal was Frosted Flakes.  What was a kid not to love?  As it was also my mom’s favorite, we got to eat fairly regularly.  However, occasionally, we ran out.  And my Dad insisted that you could just sprinkle some sugar in a bowl of corn flakes and get the same result.  WRONG!

I was reminded of these morning battles when I saw a blogger say that she bought the plain shredded wheat cereal for her family then had them add sugar, rather than buy the frosted cereal.  And I babysat some children whose mother had successfully convinced them that adding honey to a bowl of regular Cheerios was the same as eating Honey Nut Cheerios.  These mothers must be more convincing than my father.

But all of this had me puzzling – is it really healthier to sprinkle sugar in a cereal than just buy the sugar version?  From my observations, people dump in at least a teaspoon of sugar when doing that.  Well, today, we are going to crunch the numbers.  For consistency sake, I am going to say that people add 1 teaspoon of sugar (or honey) to their cereal.  Also, we are going to assume that our hypothetical cereal eaters drink all the milk in the bowl.  While I personally find this disgusting, it is the only way I know to make this fair.  If you add in sugar, a lot of it dissolves into the milk.  However, have you ever looked at a frosted mini wheat after it has been in the milk awhile?  That sugar dissolves too.

Here goes:

Nutrients 50 g shredded wheat cereal + 1 teaspoon sugar 50 g frosted shredded wheat cereal 1 cup Cheerios + 1 teaspoon honey 1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
Calories 187 175 126 140
Carbohydrates 45 42 27 30
Sugar 4 10 7 12
Fiber 7 5 3 3

(I used 50 g for the shredded wheat, since that is approximately a serving size listed on a package).

So, you really do save yourself some added sugars when you add the sugar yourself.  BUT, that does mean you have to be careful in how much you add.  A teaspoon of sugar adds 4 g of sugar.  A teaspoon of honey adds 6 g of sugar.  So, it doesn’t take much to make them about the same.  I added the fiber line because I found it slightly interesting that the frosted cereal has less fiber.  I’m assuming this is because you are getting more actual wheat cereal in 50 g of the plain cereal and adding your own sugar versus 50 g of cereal including the sugar.

So parents everywhere are justified.  Even if it doesn’t really taste the same.

Happy cereal eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Artificial Colors and Flavors

General Mills recently announced that they will be removing artificial colors and flavors from their remaining cereals in the coming months, with a goal of all cereals being artificial ingredient free by the end of 2016. According to General Mills, 60% of their cereal products are already free of artificial colors and flavors. Trix, Lucky Charms, and Reeses Puffs are among those slated to change in the next year or so.

As I have said many times on this blog, I am a big believer in making small changes for the better. But this announcement definitely makes me chuckle. Are there people out there who think that this change will make Trix or Lucky Charms a healthy choice?

I will admit, I am not on the no food dye band wagon that many people are on. Theoretically, we should be consuming minimal amounts of these items anyway if we are sticking to a healthy eating plan. Fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, low fat meats, whole grain products should be the basis of our diets and most of these won’t have many added dyes or flavors.

If the cereal companies really wanted to make a meaningful change, what if they reduced the sugar content of all their cereals by at least 25%? Or made it a standard that all of their cereals are made with 100% whole grains? Those are nutritionally meaningful changes, but they aren’t as popular right now, unfortunately.

Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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GMO Fact or Fiction, Part 1

I bought a box of Cheerios last week and noticed that they are labeled as GMO free. Chipotle Restaurants also recently announced that their menu is going GMO free (more on that later). Add these to news articles, blog posts, etc that I have seen in the past few weeks, GMO foods are definitely a hot topic in the nutrition world. Unfortunately, I feel like many people are making decisions without all the information. In light of that, I’m going to do a series of posts about GMO foods over the next few weeks. Hopefully, you will come away better able to make an informed decision.

Part 1: What are GMOs?

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. GMOs are also referred to as GEs (for “genetically engineered”). GMOs are organisms (usually plants, but sometimes animals) that have had their DNA altered in some way to give it a more desirable characteristic. A plant can be made to be more hardy and withstand drought, heat, or other nature extremes. Resistance to herbicides or pesticides are also common traits used in genetic engineering. Nutrients can also be added, such as beta-carotene added to rice in the product Golden Rice.

GMOs are a modern extension of centuries-old practices in agriculture of breeding. Farmers have been cross-breeding plants for a long time. GMOs take that practice and add a dose of modern science. Instead of just breeding plants together, scientists can add genes directly into a plant that could not be added through breeding. For example, a gene from fish can be added to tomatoes to make them last longer post-harvesting.

GMOs are regulated by the government. The Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Agriculture all have roles in the regulation of GMOs. Food products are not required to be labeled if they contain GMOs. However, all food certified by the USDA as “organic” is GMO free. The USDA also recently announced a voluntary certification program for labeling foods as GMO free.

Corn, soybean, sugar beets, squash, papaya, and canola are the only commercial GMOs in the food supply in the US. Most of us consume these products in processed foods, such as corn oil, soybean oil, and high fructose corn syrup. It is estimated that 70% of processed foods contain at least one genetically modified ingredient.  Animal feed often contains GMOs as well.  I was unable to find information on how this changes the composition of the meat or poultry we consume.  But it is another way GMOs can enter our diet.

I hope some of this information is helpful. My next installment will discuss the pros of GMOs. Until then, happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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