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Navigating the Cereal Aisle in World Full of Sugar

Posted May 21 2009 10:42pm

Cereal can either be a nutritious food or  an excuse for dessert (think “Lucky Charms”), depending on what’s in your bowl. Navigating the cereal aisle in the grocery store has become increasingly challenging thanks to the plethora of choices, many of which are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Here’s a basic guideline for choosing a healthful, whole grain cereal. Millet, amaranth, quinoa and oats are always whole grain, but if you don’t see the word whole in front of wheat, corn, barley and rice these grains have been refined.

In addition to looking for whole grains, you need to examine the box for the sugar content. Did you know that there are at least 11 popular breakfast cereals on the market containing 12g or more of sugar per serving?  That’s about the same amount in a frosted doughnut!   Furthermor e, watch for hidden sugars in cereals. They come in many different forms, including:  brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup and molasses. Skip cereals that list any form of sugar within the first three ingredients (which are listed by weight in descending order). Also, keep in mind that total sugars listed doesn’t distinguish between added and naturally-occurring sugars.   

For that matter, avoid artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, too. Top your cereal with fresh fruit – or, if necessary, add a little honey or maple syrup or agave nectar for a natural sweetness. If you’re watching your weight, choose a high volume, low-calorie whole grain cereal such as puffed brown brown rice. Also, look for the words high fiber on the box – that ensures at least 5g fiber per serving. This naturally occurs in most whole grain cereals verses refined grains.

Or create your own cereal!  For about the same price you’d pay in the grocery store you can custom-design your own cereal mix from more than 50 natural and organic ingredients using meandgoji.com. They even offer gluten-free options for celiacs. Here’s how it works: you pick your ingredients, they mix it, box it (along with nutrition information on your choices) and then ship it off to you. Check it out.

Be Well, 

Carolyn

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