Healthy Cereal

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by Linda Davis

azfamily.com

Posted on October 7, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 22 at 12:47 PM

I have a secret. Late at night, when I get hungry, I almost always sneak into the kitchen and pour myself a bowl of Cocoa Krispies. I love that treat and it almost surely resolves my late-night chocolate cravings.

Turns out, I'm not alone. I read a survey that showed nearly 58% of the cereals heavily marketed to kids are actually eaten by adults. Now here's the shocker - a sugar shocker in fact. I know that most of us realize that the sweetened breakfast cereals contain a lot of sugar but just how much? Consumer Reports just released a really interesting report. They looked at many of the most popular breakfast cereals that are primarily marketed to kids and scored them from good to fair based on a balance between beneficial ingredients such as fiber and calcium and the ingredients that should be limited in a healthy daily diet such as sugar.

The results are interesting and quite useful as you put together your shopping list. Give your kids a choice of some of the more nutritionally balanced and limit the ones at the bottom of the list. Keep the most often eaten cereal in your cupboard one of the top four on the list and your kids will be healthier for it.

I wanted to keep the math simple, so here's an easy way to remember what you should look for based on nutritionist recommendations. Look for cereals with five fiber grams or more - remember F for f iber and five. Then watch out 4 sugar - look for cereals with less than 4 grams of sugar. 4 grams equal 1 teaspoon - a popular guideline for a reasonable amount per serving for breakfast cereal. You can even let your kids pick out a brand as long as the sugars number is say 4 or below.

Very Good - Healthy Cereals

There were four cereals listed as: Very Good. They said they were relatively low in sugars, with some fiber; high in iron, and a good source of calcium

Cheerios

Kix

Life

Honey Nut Cheerios

Good

A large number were listed as: Good - Room for improvement in sugars and/or fiber; high in or a good source of iron.

Frosted Mini Wheats Bite Size

Frosted Flakes Gold

Cookie Crisp

Golden Grahams Honey Graham

Lucky Charms

Cocoa Puffs

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Trix

Reese's Puffs

Fruity Pebbles

Honey-Comb

Cocoa Pebbles

Cocoa Krispies

Frosted Flakes Reduced Sugar

Fair Cereals

And finally, there were the cereals rated as Fair- Eat only occasionally; most have a lot of sugars and too little fiber; most are high in or a good source of iron but have not calcium.

Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch

Cap'n Crunch

Rice Krispies

Apple Jacks

Froot Loops

Golden Crisp

Honey Smacks

Corn Pops

The cereals in this last group are the ones to avoid except for as an occasional treat. The study indicated that a couple of them actually have as much sugar as a glazed donut. That can represent about 50% sugar.

Plus, when you serve up breakfast in the morning watch the portion size when your kids pour their own bowl of cereal. Another study showed that kids normally pour 50 - 65% more than the recommended portion size. That could increase their sugar intake a lot.

This cereal study can found at . But, it is only available to subscribers so you'll have to pay a fee.

So, now that my secret is out and the sugar secret has been brought to our attention, you can make better purchasing decisions. You'll notice my beloved Cocoa Krispies fall toward the bottom of the ratings. Looks like it's time to make the switch to Cheerios for most of my nighttime snacking episodes, except I may keep around a couple of those mini cereal boxes for an emergency. Change is hard!

Live and Learn

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