All cereals are not created equal. Low sugar cereals can often provide ½ the calories for the same serving size as cereals with higher sugar content. Also, cereals that are low in sugar are usually higher in fiber and can leave you feeling full for most of the morning. This is important to know whether you are trying to eat a good breakfast or if you trying to instill good health habits in your children.
Cereals that have 10 grams or more of sugar per serving can really wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. The surge of sugar provides an instant energy boost and signals the body to store additional calories as fat. And when the sugar rush is over, we usually crave more food to keep the feeling going. For those kids that gulp down a pop tart or bowl of sugary cereal before they catch the school bus, this sugar let-down will probably hit when their in their first class.
Do you buy healthy cereals and then sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top? Don’t be ashamed…I used to do the same thing. But if you’re trying to get healthier habits and lose weight, that added sugar is holding you back. Also, beware of sugary cereals disguised as healthy ones! The best example that I can think of is the flavored instant oatmeal. For a small packet (1/2 a bowl), the maple brown sugar flavored oatmeal has 160 calories and 13 grams of sugar. And while it does have 3 grams of fiber, it also comes with 2 grams of fat!
So why should we chose low sugar cereals? Sugar elevates levels of insulin which in turn will suppress your body’s immune system and make you more susceptible to disease. These elevated levels of insulin the blood also promote the storage of fat. Sugar causes hyperactivity in children, rotten teeth, increased levels of bad cholesterol, and an acidic stomach. Sugar can also cause hypertension, obesity, and many other health-related illnesses. Like most things in life, we need to see if we’re consuming it moderation or in excess (It’s estimated that the average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar every week!).
So as you go down the grocery store aisle checking for low sugar cereals, pay close attention to some of the other nutritional line items. For example, check out the serving size! The average cereal bowl can hold 1.5 – 2 cups of cereal. If your cereal has a ¾ cup serving size, then you’re having 2-3 servings when you sit down for breakfast. Another important factor is the fiber content. Aside from the many health benefits of fiber, cereals that are high in fiber will fill you up and you’ll be less likely to cave-in for that mid-morning snack.
The table below is a small list of cereals with their serving size, fat, sugar, and fiber contents:
|Cereal & serving size||Calories||Fat (g)||Sugar(g)||Fiber (g)|
|All Bran, 1 ¼ cup||190||3||7||10|
|Cheerios, 1 cup||100||2||1||3|
|Rice Chex, 1 ¼ cup||120||2||1|
|Frosted Mini-Wheats, ¾ cup||200||1||12||6|
|Honey Buches of Oats, ¾ cup||120||2||6||2|
1 ½ cup
|Kix, 1.3 cups||120||1||3||1|
1 ¼ cups
In summary, try to include some low sugar cereals (<10g), as these are far healthier choices for a good breakfast or snack food. Also pay close attention to the fiber content and try to look for cereals where the fiber is at least 1g or greater per serving as these cereals will leave you feeling full and satisfied. And finally, try not to add any sugar to cereals. Each teaspoon is equivalent to 7g of sugar…so each tablespoon is equal to 21g of added sugar! Look for some low sugar cereals to start your day off right.