Friday, April 23, 2010

Best and Worst Breakfast Cereals

Best & Worst Breakfast Cereals By David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding - Posted on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, 12:19 am PDT
Eat This, Not That
by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding a Yahoo! Health Expert for Nutrition

Let’s face it: We’re rushed. Especially in the morning. Often we're running out the door a few minutes behind schedule as we stuff our bags and pray that we haven’t left anything behind. (Did I pack my lunch? My gym clothes? Do I have that file I’m supposed to give to Roger? Wait! My pants!) Yeah, mornings are messy, which is why breakfast is so often placed on the back burner. The problem is we sometimes forget to ever turn that burner on.

We’ve all heard the studies that show breakfast consumption is related to weight loss. For those who haven’t, the results are pretty clear: Breakfast eaters carry less body fat than non-eaters. Yet surprisingly, nearly 40 percent of us still skip breakfast, according to a poll conducted by ABC News. For those who do eat breakfast, about a third choose cereal. That makes it America’s favorite breakfast food. But whether that’s a good thing or not pivots on the choices we make in the supermarket.

Every box of cereal lives in one of two worlds: the world of fiber or the world of sugar. The first world pairs perfectly with freshly sliced fruit, while the second is already pushing the sugar threshold through a combination of marshmallows, sticky oat clusters, and frosting. Obviously you want to choose a cereal from world No. 1, but with all the marketing hype on cereal boxes, that’s not always easy to do. Especially when you’re speed-walking through the grocery store in the usual hurry to get home. (Why is everything so rushed these days?)

But fear not; we’ve got you covered. Here are the grocery store’s worst cereals and their more nutritious counterparts. Get your bowls and spoons ready.

Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (1 cup)
190 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g fiber
19 g sugars

It'll be hard to find a more sugar-loaded cereal than Raisin Bran. It’s sweeter than even Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, or Cocoa Krispies. Some of that sugar can be attributed to the raisins’ natural blend of fructose and glucose, but the real culprit is the sticky white armor of sucrose that enrobes each piece of fruit. Both Kellogg’s and Post are guilty of this raisin mistreatment, so what should be a legitimately healthy bowl of fruit and grains pours out closer to a candy-coated dessert.

Eat This Instead!
Kellogg’s All-Bran (1 cup) with a tablespoon of raisins
150 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g fiber
13 g sugars

General Mills Chocolate Chex (1 cup)
174 calories
3.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
1 g fiber
11 g sugars

First, let’s get this out of the way: Chocolate-flavored cereals should rarely be part of your morning routine. That said, they can make decent desserts. One study published by the American College of Nutrition found that among late-night snackers, those who chose cereal took in fewer calories than those who made other choices, and ultimately they wound up losing nearly half a pound of body fat per week. That doesn’t mean you should switch to an all-cereal diet, just that cereal is a better evening snack than you might think. Of course, not all are created equal, and surprisingly, the worst of them is the one that seems geared toward mature eaters. So the rule is, if you’re going with chocolate cereal, let your inner kid free. Per bowl, Chocolate Chex packs in more calories than Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Krispies, or Cookie Crisp.

Eat This Instead!
Cookie Crisp (1 cup)
133 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
1.5 g fiber
15 g sugars

General Mills Chex Multi-Bran (1 cup)
210 calories
2 g fat (0 g saturated)
8 g fiber
13 g sugars

Chex might seem harmless, but it’s the only brand that holds down two spots on this list. The slip-up with this box is the heavy load of sugar. (Notice that it’s even sweeter than the chocolate-flavored Chex.) General Mills calls it a “hint of sweetness,” but really it’s on par with some of the most indulgent boxes on the shelf. In fact, one bowl of this cereal has more sugar than a scoop of Edy’s Slow Churned Fudge Tracks Ice Cream. We applaud the fiber, but the sugar won’t cut it.

Eat This Instead!
Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size (1 cup)
170 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
6 g fiber
0 g sugars

Kellogg’s Smart Start Original Antioxidants (1 cup)
190 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
3 g fiber
14 g sugars

Of all the cereals on this list, this is the best example of inflated marketing. This box is littered with words that attempt to make you think you’re getting a wholesome breakfast, but in reality you’re getting a run-of-the-mill bowl of highly sweetened cereal with a multivitamin tossed in on top. Don’t let the added vitamins persuade you into thinking that the sugar isn’t a problem. It most certainly is.

Eat This Instead!
Kashi Vive (1 cup)
135 calories
2 g fat (1 g saturated)
10 g fiber
8 g sugars

Bonus Tip: Save calories, time, and money by signing up for our FREE Eat This, Not That! newsletter. You'll get nutrition and weight-loss secrets delivered daily to your inbox!

Quaker Oatmeal Express Golden Brown Sugar (1 cup)
200 calories
2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
3 g fiber
18 g sugars

Sure it’s convenient to have your oatmeal pre-packaged with a serving bowl, but is it really worth the love handles? Because that’s the likely result of eating this much sugar every morning. Sure, there’s a small shot of fiber, but in terms of the sweet stuff, this bowl is worse than eating a Little Debbie Marshmallow Pie for breakfast. Instead, leave an old coffee cup at work, and every morning load it with a packet of Quaker’s High Fiber Cinnamon Swirl. With that swap you’ll earn more belly-filling fiber and eliminate the blood-sugar surge. You’ll never even miss the plastic serving bowl.

Eat This Instead!
Quaker High Fiber Cinnamon Swirl (1 packet)
160 calories
2 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
10 g fiber
7 g sugars

Bonus Tip: Eliminate even more superfluous calories by avoiding this crazy list of The Worst Drinks in America. Your waistline will thank you.

Quaker Natural Granola, Oats, Honey & Raisin (1 cup)
420 calories
12 g fat (7 g saturated)
6 g fiber
30 g sugars

You’re in big trouble if your mornings include a bowl of this stuff. One cup eats up 20 percent of your day’s energy needs and saddles you with as much sugar as a Snicker’s bar. That’s indulgent even by dessert standards. The culprit in this box is the combined impact of brown sugar and coconut oil, which together add loads of calories with scarcely any nutrients. What you want to do is switch to a lighter granola like Kashi’s GoLean Crunch!, and then instead of eating it by the bowl, use just a handful as a topping for unsweetened whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Now that’s a recipe for a good breakfast.

Eat This Instead!
Kashi GoLean Crunch! (1 cup)
200 calories
4.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
8 g fiber
12 g sugars

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