Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Myth: The oatmeal offered at restaurants is all the same and helps to meet my goal of eating more whole grains.

bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries and applesAnswer: Busted!

One of the four major recommendations from the newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to eat more whole grains. However, the oatmeal offered at restaurants is not all the same and some options are healthier than others. Here are some ways you can make the oatmeal better for you.

Consider the oatmeal available at McDonald’s. The fruit and maple oatmeal with brown sugar has 32 grams, about 8 teaspoons, of sugar. Instead, choose the fruit and maple oatmeal without brown sugar and you get only 18 grams of sugar, which is about 3½ less teaspoons of sugar than the brown sugar option. Both versions have 5 grams of fiber so it is considered a high fiber food.

The oatmeal available at Starbucks comes with 3 toppings – nuts, brown sugar and dried fruit. To cut the amount of sugar and calories that come with all of the toppings, omit the brown sugar and dried fruit. Sprinkle some cinnamon on the oatmeal (which is usually available for the coffee drinks) for some sweetness and flavor. And yes, the Starbucks oatmeal has fiber, too - 4 grams.

See The Whole Grain Story on the MissouriFamilies website for more information about whole grains.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933

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