Sure, they’re magically delicious but they may also be the cause of your health problem and weight gain or the hyperactivity in your child. Millions of people start their day with a sugary bowl of cereal totally unaware that they are setting themselves up for a host of chronic disease.
I know what you’re thinking. Geesh, what can I eat these days that won’t eventually kill me? Well let me give you the good news first. There are a number of great cereals on the market that taste good and are good for you. You don’t have to give up your morning routine of eating cereal but you do have to get more selective. The bad news is that most cereals are the equivalent to eating dessert for breakfast. You may feel a small burst of energy because the sugar spikes your blood glucose level and causes your body to release insulin. But it’s this repeated spike of energy and eminent crash afterwards that over time results in chronic health problems like diabetes, weight gain, migraines, digestive issues, and toxicity in the body. For children, sugary foods have been linked to ADD, ADHD, allergies, moodiness, impaired cognitive development and learning disabilities.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2014 Report on Children’s Cereal after analyzing over 1,500 different cereals. What they found was that cereals with the highest content of sugar are typically those marketed as children’s cereal. But let’s be honest, you know you have pushed aside the Fiber One box and poured yourself a bowl of Captain Crunch on more than one occasion. Sure, the cartoon characters may attract the kids, but both the young and the old love sugar.
Here’s the list of the top 5 children’s cereals that the EWG found to have the highest sugar content:
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
- Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs
- Post Golden Crisp
- Kellogg’s Apple Jacks (with marshmallows)
- Kellogg’s Fruit Loops (with marshmallows)
On average 34% of the calories in these cereals come from sugar and some of them contain up to six different types of sweeteners. Interesting to note is that many granola based cereals had equal amounts or more sugar than children’s cereals. This proves just how important it is to read the nutrition label on packaging.
Healthy Options to Start the Day
Hands down, the breakfast of champions is a simple bowl of hot cereal made from whole grains such as oats. Top it with some fresh fruit like berries or bananas to sweeten and your body will thank you for it. The fiber in grains and fruits will give you a nice steady supply of energy and keep your blood sugar stabilized. But if you’re short on time or your taste buds prefer cold cereal, the EWG recommends the following low-sugar cereal options.
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
- General Mills Cheerios
- Post 123 Sesame Street
- Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
- Kellogg’s Crispix