Quick and convenient, cereal can be a tempting option to reach for at breakfast. But what are you really eating? A whole bunch of sugar, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. The EWG analyzed 1,556 cereals in the U.S. for sugar content…and what they found was shocking. Not only did most cereals contain added sugar, but some were worse offenders than others –and in the case of 12 cereals in particular, were made up of more than 50 percent sugar by weight.
Here are the 12 to stay away from on your next grocery trip:
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs
Mom’s Best Cereals Honey-Ful Wheat
Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch with Marshmallows
Post Golden Crisp
Blanchard & Blanchard Granola
Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes
Lieber’s Honey Ringee Os
Food Lion Sugar Frosted Wheat Puffs
Krasdale Fruity Circles
Safeway Kitchens Silly Circles
Still not convinced? The EWG points out some more unsettling things in their analysis that might convince you to put cereal squarely in the “dessert“ category:
- Some cereals contain as many as six different types of added sweeteners, like sugar mixed with corn syrup, honey, dextrose or high fructose corn syrup.
- Every single cereal marketed to children contains added sugar—more than 2.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving on average, about the same as what you’ll find in three Chips Ahoy! cookies. Children’s cereals have over 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals.
- Cereal is the fifth highest source of added sugar in the diets of children under 8, coming in after sugary drinks, cookies, candy and ice cream. And 78 percent of children’s cereals contain more than two teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, more than a quarter of the daily limit for an 8-year-old. If that doesn’t sound like much, just try to think back to the last time anyone ate just the tiny serving size on the box.
- In fact, for hundreds of cold cereals, the EWG found that the listed serving size is indeed smaller than what FDA found people eat in one sitting.
- Unlike saturated fat or sodium, the FDA doesn’t require products that exceed a certain level of sugar content to disclose that on the label if the packaging makes a nutrient content claim. That’s why you’ll see sugar-packed cereals focusing their packaging on their “Excellent Source of Vitamin D” or “Good Source of Fiber.”
- Think granolas are a healthier option? They actually have the highest sugar content per serving. But since they often contain more fiber and are heavier compared to other cereals, they’re lower in percentage of sugar by weight.
- Your best options are hot cereals like oatmeal, cream of wheat and grits. 31 percent contain no sugar at all, and they’re a rich source of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
- Just stay away from instant oatmeal, which averages 75 percent more sugar than regular cooked oatmeal.