Tag Archives: cereal

Who’s got the highest scores in the sugar ratings?

Foodfacts was not surprised to learn in a report released from the Environmental Working Group, we’ve discovered that many of the breakfast cereals are kids are eating could be reasonably marketed as desserts based on the amount of sugar per serving they contain.

America likes cereal. Moms and Dads like it. You pour it in a bowl, pour milk over it and you have breakfast. And most cereals try to make you feel good with claims like “Whole Grains”, “Natural” and other “healthy euphemisms”.

And our kids like cereals. They have funny commercials with memorable characters, brightly colored boxes with more memorable characters and sometimes, there’s even a surprise hiding in the box. But there’s an even better reason kids like cereals. They taste good. Actually, they taste sweet. They  taste so sweet, our kids probably don’t even think they’re having breakfast. It might as well be dessert.

Some of the products in the study contain as much sugar per serving than a piece of candy of a Twinkie. Here’s a list of the cereals who get the highest scores in the sugar ratings and should be receiving the lowest scores from Moms and Dads everywhere:

1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks—55% sugar

2. Post Golden Crisp—51.9% sugar

3. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Marshmallow—48.3% sugar

4. Quaker Oats Captain Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries—46.9% sugar

5. Quaker Oats Captain Crunch Original—44.4% sugar

6. Quaker Oats Oh’s—44.4% sugar

7. Kellogg’s Smorz—43.3% sugar

8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks —42.9% sugar

9. Quaker Oats Captain Crunch’s Crunch Berries—42.3% sugar

10. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Original—41.4% sugar

While it’s difficult to help our kids drown out the loud voice-overs from cereal commercials, there are things that have been able to keep the fun in breakfast while keeping the sugar out.

Make oatmeal together: Oatmeal is a pretty quick breakfast. Children love helping adults cook and measuring out the oatmeal and getting it into the pot can involve your child in the cooking process. Sliced bananas, an assortment of berries, raisins and other fruits can be fun mix-ins for oatmeal.

Add some dried fruit to the cereal you like: “Doctor” your healthier cereal with some sweet things that are better for your kids.

Prepare a “fun” looking breakfast: Breakfast smoothies and parfaits look like fun and can be much healthier than the traditional kids breakfast offenders.

FoodFacts hopes that information like this is continually put in front of the public. If we can all have a better understanding of how are kids SHOULD NOT be eating, we’ll have a better chance of having the food companies produce real foods that we can feel comfortable with our children consuming.

Toucan Sam lives to see another day on your grocery shelf

 

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FoodFacts.com has been watching this story develop and wants to bring you the latest news. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention jointly wrote a series of guidelines that would set maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium for food products. This series of guidelines also included a request to the food industry not to specifically market foods that do not adhere to those suggested guidelines to children between the ages of 2 and 17. This request encompassed advertising on television, in stores and on the internet and it also included the removal of cartoon characters from cereal boxes.

The food industry has been fighting back and has aggressively lobbied against the guidelines. They claim that adherence to the proposed guidelines would severely limit the marketing of most all food products in the country and most especially children’s food products. Although they acknowledge that the guidelines are voluntary, they fear that there could be retaliation against them for not adhering.

After hearing industry objectives, government agencies are said to have reconsidered their stance. The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection acknowledged that they will be making significant revisions to their proposal.

In answer to the government guidelines, food companies came up with their own set of guidelines. While the industry proposal does include limiting advertising on some children’s foods, they’ve adjusted the criteria. While the industry has been praised by officials, their own proposal is far more lenient than the government offering.

Most parents in America have lived through the “grocery store as toy store” effects of children’s food packaging and surprise-inside-the-box marketing tactics on our kids as they joined us at our local markets in their very young years. You can easily assume that those cartoon characters, images and photos are designed to market products to kids before they can actually read. How many times did your three-year-old tell you he or she wanted that box that carried those colorful images gracing not only the box, but the TV-screen as well? Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam and the Trix Rabbit are pretty powerful, to say the least.

FoodFacts.com just has to ask: if the food industry understands the power of these images in marketing to children, (and we know they absolutely do) why can’t they use them to promote products we’d all be happy to feed our kids? Like cereals that are low in sugar and are made from whole grains that don’t contain fake fruit and odd colors? The industry would still be selling products to children. It’s just that our kids would want us to buy what’s good for them because those appealing characters would now grace the boxes parents would rather purchase. Seems like a win-win to us. Oh … and we could all take a vacation from repeating the word “no” as we walk down supermarket aisles with our three-year-old kids as they point out their animated pals on the store shelves.

Packaging words to learn and lookout for!

Foodfacts.com understands that many consumers may often be fooled by certain terms, symbols, or words present on food packaging. This article should help to clarify any confusion regarding your foods and how the impact your health!

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1. Flavored
Both natural and artificial flavors are actually made in laboratories. But natural flavorings are isolated from a natural source, whereas artificial flavorings are not. However, natural flavors are not necessarily healthier than artificial. According to Scientific American, the natural flavor of coconut is not from an actual coconut, as one might expect, but from the bark of a tree in Malaysia. The process of extracting the bark kills the tree and drives up the price of the product when an artificial flavoring could be made more cheaply and more safely in a laboratory. That natural strawberry flavor you love? It could be made from a “natural” bacterial protein. Mmmm!

2. Drink and cocktail
The FDA requires that the amount of juice be labeled on a package when it claims to contain juice. The words drink and cocktail should have you checking the label for percentages and hidden sugars. But beware: even a product labeled 100 percent juice could be a mixture of cheaper juices, like apple juice and white grape juice.

3. Pure
100 percent pure products such as orange juice can be doctored with flavor packs for aroma and taste similar to those used by perfume companies. By now we all know about the use of flavor packs added back to fresh-squeezed orange juice like Tropicana and Minute Maid.

4. Nectar
The word nectar sounds Garden of Eden pure, but according to the FDA it’s just a fancy name for “not completely juice.” The FDA writes: “The term ‘nectar’ is generally accepted as the common or usual name in the U.S. and in international trade for a diluted juice beverage that contains fruit juice or puree, water, and may contain sweeteners.” The ingredient list of Kern’s, a popular brand of peach nectar, contains high fructose corn syrup before peach puree.

5. Spread

Anything that uses the word spread, is not 100 percent derived from its main ingredient. Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter is a spread because it contains ingredients that make it different than traditional peanut butter. When something is called a spread, look at the ingredients to see if there is anything in there you don’t want.

6. Good source of fiber

If it doesn’t look like fiber, it may not function like fiber. Products that are pumped full of polydextrose and inulin are not proven to have the same benefits of fruits, vegetables, and beans, foods naturally high in fiber. For true fiber-based benefit add some fruit to your yogurt.

7. Cholesterol free
Any product that is not derived from an animal source is cholesterol free. Companies add this to packaging to create the illusion of health. The product is not necessarily unhealthy, but you should see if there is something they are trying to distract you from–e.g., corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.

8. Fat free
PAM cooking spray and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray are fat free if used in the super miniscule and near impossible serving sizes recommended. PAM must be sprayed for ¼ of a second and the small I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray bottle contains over 1,000 servings! Even then it’s not fat free it’s just below the amount that the FDA requires to be identified on labels.

9. Sugar free
This designation means free of sucrose not other sugar alcohols that carry calories from carbohydrates but are not technically sugar. Sugar alcohols are not calorie free. They contain 1.5-3 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram for sugar. Also, certain sugar alcohols can cause digestion issues.

10. Trademarks

Dannon yogurt is the only company allowed to use the bacteria in yogurt called bifidus regularis because the company created its own strain of a common yogurt bacterial strain and trademarked the name. Lactobacillus acidophilus thrives in all yogurts with active cultures. Although Activa is promoted as assisting in digestion and elimination, all yogurts, and some cheeses, with this bacteria will do the same thing.

11. Health claims
Could a probiotic straw give immunity protection to a child? Are Cheerios a substitute for cholesterol-lowering drugs? The FDA doesn’t think so. Foods are not authorized to treat diseases. Be suspicious of any food label that claims to be the next wonder drug.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

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A corn-derived sweetener representing more than 40 percent of all caloric sweeteners in the supermarket. In 2005, there were 59 pounds produced per capita. The liquid sweetener is created by a complex process that involves breaking down cornstarch with enzymes, and the result is a roughly 50/50 mix of fructose and glucose.

FOUND IN Although about two-thirds of the HFCS consumed in the United States is in beverages, it can be found in every grocery aisle in products such as ice cream, chips, cookies, cereal, bread, ketchup, jam, canned fruits, yogurt, barbecue sauce, frozen dinners, and so on.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Since around 1980, the US obesity rate has risen proportionately to the increase in HFCS, and Americans are now consuming at least 200 calories of the sweetener each day. Some researchers argue that the body metabolizes HFCS differently, making it easier to store as fat, but this theory has not been proven.

Cereal may help ward off hypertension

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Starting each day with a bowl of cereal — especially a whole-grain variety — could trim up to 20% off your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to preliminary research presented Tuesday at an American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be caused or worsened by a range of factors, including obesity, lack of exercise, too much sodium, and stress. Although cereal alone won’t keep blood pressure in check, eating it regularly may be an easy and practical way to prevent hypertension, the researchers say.

“Cereal is something that people can easily get into their diet and that they enjoy,” says lead researcher Jinesh Kochar, M.D., a geriatric specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. “And it costs a lot less than the drugs you’d have to take if you had hypertension.”

Cereals made from whole grains appear to protect against hypertension slightly more than those made from refined grains (which have had their fiber- and nutrient-rich parts removed), the study found.

Julie Miller Jones, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the College of St. Catherine, in Minneapolis, says that cereal may be a better source of whole grain than bread and other foods because of how it tends to be served. “Usually with cereal you don’t add a source of saturated fat, while you might add something like sausage to bread,” says Jones, who points out that the study did not control for saturated-fat intake. Jones was not involved in the new research.

In addition, the nuts, raisins, or fruit often added to cereal contain fiber and potassium, both of which can help lower blood pressure. Milk’s effects on blood pressure can’t be discounted either, Jones says. “It may be more about the way you put the breakfast together than anything magical about breakfast cereal.”

7 breakfasts under 300 calories
Kochar and his colleagues analyzed data on more than 13,000 men who were part of the long-running Physicians’ Health Study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. All the participants had normal blood pressure and averaged 52 years old at the start of the study. Over the next 17 years, more than half developed hypertension.

Compared with men who never ate cereal, those who averaged one serving per week had a 7% lower risk of hypertension. Those who consumed cereal more frequently had even greater reductions in risk: Two to six weekly servings were associated with an 11% lower risk, and one or more servings per day were associated with a 19% lower risk. (To pinpoint the effect of the cereal, the researchers took several other risk factors for hypertension into account, including age, smoking history, fruit and vegetable consumption, and physical activity.)

Although the food questionnaires used in the study did not ask about specific brands of cereals, popular brand-name cereals made from refined grains include varieties of Corn Flakes, Special K, and Rice Krispies, while examples of whole-grain cereals include Cheerios, shredded wheat, and bran.

10 heart-healthy rules to live by

More research will be needed to determine whether cereal is associated with a lower risk of hypertension in women, too, Kochar says. Although previous studies have shown that women derive heart benefits from whole grain, the findings can’t be immediately generalized beyond men.

Roughly 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. The AHA estimates that hypertension costs the country an estimated $90 billion in health-care and other costs each year.

Kochar presented his findings at the AHA’s annual conference on nutrition, physical activity, and metabolism. Unlike the studies published in medical journals, the research presented at the meeting has not been thoroughly vetted by other experts.

Information provided by: health.com