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Anyone For Breakfast?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here's a little quiz for you. Which cereal is healthier? Which of these is a good choice? Which is a bad choice? I've saved a few empty boxes of several cereals that have recently been in our house. Remember, we have a ten year old that lives with us. He eats 99% of these cereals and I have them once in a while for the other 1% of the mix.

Honey Nut Chex: The box says it is "Gluten Free" and whole grain but it has honey and nuts, so it must be too sweet and higher in fat because of the nuts, right?

1. The serving size is 3/4 cup
2. Calories are 120
3. Fat is 1g
4. Sugars are 9g
5. Fiber is 1g.

Corn Chex: This is also "Gluten Free" and is "with Whole Grain Guaranteed". It is CORN though. That can't be good, can it?

1. The serving size is 1 whole cup
2. Calories are 120
3. Fat is only a half (.5)g
4. Sugars are 3g
5. Fiber 2g

Not bad!

Life Cinnamon: "Made with Whole Grain". This stuff tastes good without adding milk!

1. The serving size is 3/4 cup
2. Calories are 120
3. Fat is 1.5g
4. Sugars are 8g
5. Fiber 2g

It is also "Heart healthy" and "an excellent source of B-Vitamins" according to the package.

Mom's Best Naturals - Honey Grahams: Now this should be super healthy! It is in the specialty isle with all the health foods and is a lot more expensive than the others. It too, has whole grains and is made with "all natural ingredients".

1. The serving size is 3/4 cup
2. Calories are 130
3. Fat is 3g
4. Sugars are 10g
5. Fiber 1g

Wait a minute?!? The health food is the most in calories, fat, sugars and lower in fiber than most of the others? What's up with that???

It gets more interesting when you read the ingredients. The health food cereal has corn meal as its first ingredient. The other three list different whole grains as their first ingredients.

By the way, the Honey Nut Chex, and the Mom's Honey Grahams both listed two types of sugars in the first five ingredients. The Corn Chex and Life cereals listed one sugar as the third ingredient. (I only went through the first five ingredients for this)

When looking at all the ingredients:

* The Life cereal listed ONE source of sugar in its ingredients.
* The Corn Chex cereal listed TWO sources of sugar.
* The Honey Nut Chex listed FOUR sources of sugar.
* The Mom's Honey Grahams lists SIX sources of sugar.

The FDA doesn't make manufacturers list all their sugars together. The more types of sugars you can put in a product the lower down the list they appear. The Corn Chex would be lowest in sugar because they actually use less overall sugar than the others. Clear as mud? Of course not! It seems the more of a challenge it is to figure these labels out the more we are kept in the dark. I hate having to do my homework, but I need to, in order to put the best foods in MY mouth for ME!

By the way, good old oatmeal is a tad higher in calories and fat. It has 150 calories per serving and 2.5g fat. It wins in the sugar category with only 1g of sugar, and in the fiber category with 4g of fiber. One more note about oatmeal is interesting when comparing it to these other cereals. The total list of ingredients in Life Cinnamon cereal was a whopping 27! Mom's Best had 18 ingredients (so much for "all natural" meaning simple), Honey Nut Chex had 12, and Corn Chex had only 8! But, oatmeal has ONE ingredient.

The moral of this story is that you really can't judge a book by its cover much less a cereal box by where it is located in the store, or what it says in bold print on the box. You have to read the ingredients too. Everyone needs to decide what is best for themselves. I look at calories and fat first and always prefer simpler foods with fewer ingredients.

Please pass the oatmeal!

(note: all these figures were without adding milk)
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