Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cereal is a good choice for my child's breakfast, right?

Answer: Well...maybe.

A new report shows that kids cereals have 85% more sugar and 65% less fiber than adult cereals. So, maybe these are not the best choices for your child as they begin their day. Although there are healthy cereal choices - ones with less sugar and more whole grains and fiber - many cereals are high in sugar and low in fiber. Unfortunately, many of these cereals are marketed to kids. How do companies target kids? They use celebrity tie-ins, toys and prizes. You might reach for a cereal with whole grains BUT find that it also is high in sugar. Or you may see a label or logo on a cereal that makes it look like the cereal has been rated a good choice. Look closer! Here's how...

1. Pressed for time? Look high, look low at the grocery store. Healthier (and lower cost) cereals are usually on the top or bottom shelves, not at eye level where they are easiest to get.

2. Find cereals high in whole grains and fiber: First, look on the Nutrition Facts label under "Total Carbohydrate" - cereal high in fiber have 5 grams of Dietary Fiber listed. Also, look at the ingredient list. Look for "whole" or "100% whole" before the word "wheat" or other grain as the first ingredient.

Here's an example of an ingredient list for bran flakes:
INGREDIENTS: Whole grain wheat, wheat bran...

3. Find cereals low in sugar: First, look on the Nutrition Facts label under "Total Carbohydrate" are listed "Sugars." If you see 4 grams listed the cereal has 1 teaspoon of sugar, 8 grams and it has 2 teaspoons of sugar. Choose a cereal with 4 grams or less. You can also look at the ingredient list. If sugar is listed as one of the first 2 or 3 ingredients, then it is high in sugar.

Here are names for sugar you may see on ingredient lists:
High-fructose corn syrup
Corn sweetener
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Fruit juice concentrate
Brown sugar
Corn syrup
Raw sugar

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