A couple of weeks ago we analyzed the cereal consumption in the dining commons. The top five most consumed cereal options are Cocoa Puffs, Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Lucky Charms. What is the one thing all of these cereals have in common? Added Sugar. They all have almost 10 grams of sugar per ¾ Cup. Plus most of us don’t even consume ¾ Cup. A couple of weeks ago we analyzed the cereal consumption in the dining commons. The top five most consumed cereal options are Cocoa Puffs, Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Lucky Charms. What is the one thing all of these cereals have in common? Added Sugar. They all have almost 10 grams of sugar per ¾ Cup. Plus most of us don’t even consume ¾ Cup. I know I don’t. It’s more like a 1 ½ Cup serving which would mean we would have to double the sugar amount (20 grams).
|Frosted Flakes||10 grams per 3/4 Cup|
|Cocoa Puffs||10 grams per 3/4 Cup|
|Cap'n Crunch||12 gams per 3/4 Cup|
|Lucky Charms||10 grams per 3/4 Cup|
|Froot Loops||9 grams per 3/4 Cup|
How much is too much?
If I consumed 1 ½ Cups of Cocoa Puffs, I would be consuming 20 grams of sugar, which is about 80 calories. But is 80 calories of sugar too much? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons.
As I mentioned above if I consumed the 1 ½ Cups of Cocoa Puffs, I would have consumed 80 calories. That leaves me a mere 20 calories for the rest of the day, it sure added up fast. If I am trying to follow the recommendation of only consuming 100 calories from added sugar per day, I am going to seriously consider my options. I rather opt for some ice cream since I would be consuming almost the same amount of sugar.
|1/2 the Fat Vanilla Ice Cream||Cocoa Puffs|
|Fat||3.5 g||1.5 g|
|Saturated Fat||2 g||0 g|
|Protein||2 g||1 g|
|Fiber||0 g||2 g|
|Sugar||12 g||10 g|
Half the Fat Vanilla Ice Cream isn’t that different than Cocoa Puffs. They both have the same amount of calories; sure there is a little bit more fat and saturated fat and sugar. But they are pretty darn close. In my mind when I think of cereal, I think of something that should be healthy- starting the day off right. Instead cereal like cocoa puffs are desserts disguised as a breakfast option. Some marketing even goes as far say saying it’s healthy because it contains whole grains. Well, think twice, and way you options.
What can you do? Make sure you look at what a serving size actually is, and decide if it’s realistic. And don’t be swayed by clever packaging: Claims of high vitamin and nutrient content can often distract from high sugar content. Be aware of your breakfast options and how much sugar they contain. If you are trying to find a “healthy” breakfast cereal ensure that it contains
1. Whole grains- a healthy cereal will have little or no refined grains or the first two ingredients should be whole grain, bran, fruit or soy.
2. Choose a cereal that has no more the 250 calories per cup
3. Choose a cereal that has at least 5 grams of fiber
4. Limit Sugar. Less is better on the added sugar, though it can be difficult to monitor because nutrition labels do not distinguish between naturally occurring sugar in fruit or added sugar like evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup or high fructose corn syrup. So be aware of added sugar terminology.
5. Choose a cereal low in sodium. Check the nutrition label because similar cereals can vary greatly.