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You Ask, I Answer: Corn Flakes/High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:02pm

I was eating Corn Flakes and saw that HFCS is one of the main ingredients but, per serving, it only has 2g of sugar. Is this still an unhealthier choice for breakfast?

– Anoymous (via the blog)

I must say — I have been getting some really thought-provoking questions lately.

One cup of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes contains a mere 1.8 grams of sugar (that’s half a teaspoon). When the amount is so small, I don’t think too much weight should be placed on the particular sweetener listed on the label.

It’s also worth mentioning that when it comes to the artificial high-fructose corn syrup, it’s important to place it within the context of dietary patterns.

If Corn Flakes are your only source of high fructose corn syrup each day, there is no need for concern.

If, however, you are also having a few cans of regular soda and lots of processed sweet foods, I would recommend taking certain steps to cut back on your consumption of the infamous corn-based sweetener.

My real issue with Corn Flakes is that they are far from nutritious. They aren’t “unhealthy”, but I can think of much more nutritious, filling — and tastier! — choices for breakfast.

For starters, they are fat-free and contain an almost non-existent 1.3 grams of fiber and 1.9 grams of protein per serving. Why am I pointing this out? Remember: fat, fiber, and protein are the three pillars of satiety (”feeling full”).

Foods like Corn Flakes — which lack these three nutrients — will not help you feel full. In fact, you’ll very likely be hungry again just one hour after having your bowl of cereal (unless it is an accompaniment to a more substantial breakfast).

Anyone interested in weight loss — and maintenance — should think about consuming healthy and nutrition foods that, in small amounts, satiate.

Nuts, for example, contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein. This is why a handful of nuts as a snack can hold you over much better than a handful of pretzels (which, lacking these nutrients, will not help you feel full until you have consumed a significant amount of calories).

Another eyebrow-raising fact? A cup of Corn Flakes has more sodium than a one-ounce bag of Lay’s potato chips (266 milligrams vs. 180 milligrams)!

As I mentioned in my Small Bites newsletter on sodium, one way to get an idea if something we are eating is heavily processed or closer to nature is by looking at the sodium to potassium ratio.

The more processed/artificial the product, the more sodium (and less potassium) it has .

Corn Flakes? 266 milligrams of sodium in one cup, and a feeble 24.6 milligrams of potassium (we should be aiming for approximately 4,000 milligrams of potassium each day).

If you can’t live without your cereal in the morning, opt for a wheat-bran based type (wheat bran is high in potassium) and have it with a banana, mango, or raisins (three breakfast-friendly fruits also high in that mineral).

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