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    Archive for the ‘Cheerios’ Category

    Numbers Game: Answer

    chocolate-cheerios1A cup of Frosted Cheerios contains 11.5 more grams of sugar than a cup of original Cheerios.

    That, by the way, equals an entire tablespoon of added sugar.

    Not all Cheerios are created equal.  Check out how much added sugar you get in a cup of each of the different varieties:

    • Original: 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon)
    • Multigrain: 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons)
    • Oat Cluster Crunch, Triple Berry Berry Burst: 10 grams (2.5 teaspoons)
    • Banana Nut, Chocolate, Fruity, Honey Nut, Strawberry Yogurt Burst, Vanilla Yogurt Burst: 11.25 grams (2.8 teaspoons)
    • Frosted: 12.5 grams (3.1 teaspoons)
    • Apple Cinnamon: 13.75 grams (3.4 teaspoons)

    No, the fact that the apple-cinnamon variety is partially sweetened with “apple puree concentrate” does not make it healthier.  Besides — sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup show up on the ingredient list before apple puree concentrate.


    Numbers Game: Cheerios and Jeerios

    oc_fc_product_photo2A cup of Frosted Cheerios contains _____ more grams of sugar than a cup of conventional Cheerios.

    a) 8
    b) 4.5
    c) 11.5
    d) 9.75

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Saturday for the answer.


    In The News: Drugs for Breakfast?

    cheeriosThank you to reader Kristina Hartman for sending me a link to Consumerist.com’s coverage of the latest Food & Drug Administration/Cheerios debacle.

    In short, the FDA fired off a letter to General Mills (maker of Cheerios) notifying them that:

    “Based on claims made on your product’s label [regarding clinical proof that Cheerios lowers cholesterol], we have determined that your Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.”

    In order to keep that health claim on their box, General Mills must submit a new drug application on behalf of their oat-based cereal.

    I’m torn.

    On the one hand, I personally would love ALL health claims taken off product packaging.  It’s gotten to the point where ridiculous stunts like boasting about the health benefits of a sprinkle of Omega-3 dust on a cracker are common practice.

    However, why is the idea of food as medicine so foreign?  This separation between “nutrition” and “medicine” (so prevalent in Western society) has led many doctors to foolishly reject the idea that nutrition therapy is effective.


    You “Ask”, I Answer: Modified Corn Starch/Constipation

    My dietitian at the gym said that modified corn starch is not good because it is a strong “binding” agent and can cause constipation.

    Cheerios [have] modified corn starch as [the second] ingredient.

    [The dietitian said this] has an impact on toddlers- many of [whom] eat a lot of cheerios cereal.

    And, a lot have constipation problems.

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Although there are several factors that can cause constipation, a significant one is a lack of insoluble fiber in the diet.

    Cheerios — and any oat-based product, for that matter — largely contain soluble fiber.

    Remember, soluble fiber is the one that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol AND achieve a longer-lasting feeling of satiety. Insoluble fiber, meanwhile, helps keep things moving through the digestive tract.

    The lack of insoluble fiber (NOT the presence of modified corn starch) is why Cheerios can exacerbate (notice I am not using the word “cause”) constipation.

    I want to stress that foods do not cause constipation in and of themselves. Rather, it is a lack of insoluble fiber in the overall diet that does.

    That said, I prefer people get soluble fiber in their whole food form, as opposed to isolated starches (especially since the tacked-on modified corn starch is likely genetically modified). Plenty of foods offer generous amounts of soluble fiber: oats, barley, brussels sprouts, oranges, broccoli, and black beans come to mind.



    You Ask, I Answer: Vegan Child’s Nutrition

    I have a picky eater at home, an 8-year-old I adopted last year from another country.

    She is still very suspicious of new foods, and I have taken to sneaking supplements into her diet wherever I can.

    She’s vegan and I’m vegetarian; I open up iron supplement capsules and sprinkle small amounts of iron into her food; same with B-complex capsules and multi-vitamin caps.

    She gets plenty of protein and fiber, since she’s happy to eat tempeh, beans, quinoa, peanut butter and lots of vegetables and fruits.

    I’m mostly concerned with her iron, B-complex, calcium and Omega-3 intake.

    The last two I can handle with flax oil, wakame powder and various calcium supplements.

    Actually, I still think she could be getting more calcium if she’d drink milk, but she won’t.

    — Jennifer Armstrong
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Although I understand your concerns regarding your child’s nutrition, I believe she is doing just fine based on the eating patterns you describe above.

    First of all, I am impressed that an 8 year old appreciates the taste of quinoa and tempeh – nutritious foods that many adults shun, or downright don’t even know about.

    Most people with children your age are concerned about the increasing consumption of Doritos, Oreos, and soda!

    Alright, let’s discuss the specific nutrients you inquired about.

    As far as iron is concerned, there is no absolutely need to provide capsules.

    An omnivorous 8 year old should get 10 milligrams of iron a day; since your daughter is vegan – and therefore consuming solely non-heme sources – I would place her requirement at 15 milligrams.

    Note that between the ages of 9 and 12, this requirement will lessen to approximately 12 milligrams.

    Considering the iron amounts in these vegan foods, you’ll see why iron pills are basically a waste of money:

    Quinoa (1 cup): 6.2 milligrams
    Soybeans (1/2 cup): 4 milligrams
    Lentils (1/2 cup): 3.2 milligrams
    Kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas (1/2 cup): 2.5 milligrams

    Don’t forget enriched and fortified grains.

    Half a cup of fortified oatmeal provides 6.5 milligrams of iron, and a cup of enriched cereal (say, Cheerios) provides 9 milligrams!<

    In terms of calcium, she currently needs 800 milligrams a day, but this will jump to 1,300 from age 9 to 18.

    Again, though, no need for supplementation.

    It does take more planning than an omnivorous diet, but it can be done.

    Check out these values:

    Calcium-fortified orange juice (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soy yogurt (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soymilk (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Tofu (4 oz.): 260 milligrams
    Collard greens (1/2 cup): 175 mg
    Almonds (1 oz): 80 mg

    Although Vitamin B12 is often cited as an issue in vegan diets, fortification has made this former problem a lot easier to manage.

    Many popular cereals are fortified with vitamin B12.

    Let’s go back to the Cheerios example — 1 cup provides a third of a day’s needs.

    A cup of some (fortified) soymilks, meanwhile, contains 40 percent of a day’s worth of B12!

    Wakame – a kelp – is also a great source. It’s one of the few seaweeds that contains human-active B12 (as opposed to the analog type, which is useless in our bodies).

    In the event that B12 needs can not be met through food, I do recommend supplementation. Make sure it is specifically a B12 supplement and not a multivitamin containing B12 (vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron can impede absorption).

    Omega-3 fatty acids are the most difficult to get from a vegan diet, since walnuts and flaxseeds only contain alpha linoleic acid (they do not contribute EPA and DHA, the two essential fatty acids found in fish).

    However, Omega-3 supplements made from algae are vegan and contain EPA and DHA!

    While we’re on the topic of supplementation, I think everyone — carnivore, vegan, and everywhere in between — should supplement their diet with vitamin D.

    One last thing – don’t get discouraged by your daughter’s adverse reactions to new foods.

    Research has determined that it takes approximately eight to ten tries for a new food to be accepted by a young child.

    The key is slow integration.

    For instance, let’s say your daughter enjoys baby carrots but the first time she tried celery she wasn’t too keen on it.

    Rather than outright swap carrots for celery pieces overnight, throw in four or five chopped bits of celery next time you pack some baby carrots in her lunch box.

    This subtle addition of a new flavor will be less intimidating to her and less of a shock to her palate.

    Do this another five or six times. The results might surprise you!


    Today’s Lunch: Cheerios, Greek Yogurt, and A Clif Nectar Bar

    12:50 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

    So my flight to the West Coast — for what was originally some much-needed four day R&R — is now delayed by five hours.

    Well, when life hands you a lemon airplane (apparently some cables were loose, or so the pilot said), make blog lemonade!

    A view of the Jet Blue terminal food court at John F. Kennedy airport reveals:

    Papaya King (hot dogs and fries)
    Create Your Own Salad (the only truly healthy option)
    Carmella’s Kitchen (lasagna and cheese-smothered pasta, in huge portions, of course)

    Sky Asian Bistro (greasy lo mein under a heat lamp)

    Mex and the City (cute name, greasy food)

    Boar’s Head (cold cuts, cold cuts, and more cold cuts)

    Cheeburger & Cheeburger (you guessed it, a burger joint)

    Adding to the unappetizing factor are all the horribly eighties neon signs.

    Fair enough, I could go make my own salad if I am seeking a healthier option. Except I’m not craving a salad at the moment.

    At least Cibo — a small deli, if you will — offers fruit and nut bars, fresh fruit, sandwiches made with whole wheat bread, and a particularly tasty tray of baby carrots, celery sticks, and broccoli florets.

    Not surprisingly, these nutritious vegetables are accompanied by sodium and saturated fat-laden ranch dressing.

    Alas, I did some mixing and matching and bought a small container of overpriced hummus to use as dip.

    That was my mid-morning snack when the delay was only two hours.

    Lunch time came and, considering my options, I purchased Greek yogurt, a bowl of Cheerios (yay soluble fiber!), and a Clif Nectar bar. The cost? $12.95! Way to encourage healthy eating.

    Rant over.

    UPDATE (6:46 PM, Pacific Coast Time): The second I typed that period at the end of my last sentence, the laptop I was using turned off (turns out the jack I was plugged into at the Jet Blue terminal wasn’t working).

    Anyhow, after a five hour delay, I arrived at my destination.

    Jet Blue thanked everyone for their patience by providing free roundtrip tickets to every passenger and extra snacks during the flight.

    Sodas, cookies, biscotti, Terra chips, and cheese snack mix were happily consumed by many.

    I opted for a small bag of cashews from their selection, water, and my own stash of Flavor & Fiber bars.

    Alas, the lesson here is — next time you pack for a flight, remember to bring some healthy snacks on board. The airport sure isn’t looking out for you!


    You Ask, I Answer: Cereal

    I have a cereal question for you.

    I’m thinking about switching from Cheerios to Kashi Heart to Heart, but am wondering what’s “best.”

    Basically, I can eat close to twice the amount of Cheerios for the same amount of calories in Heart to Heart.

    I understand the fiber amount is different, but Heart to Heart also has more sugar.

    If I’m doubling the serving of fiber in cheerios, that’s pretty darn close to the single serving of Heart to Heart, right?

    I’m thinking in terms of volume here… getting more bang for my buck…does this make sense? So what’s the dealbreaker here?

    Do you think it boils down to personal preference or is there an actual more healthful choice in this situation?

    — Ali
    Hillsboro, OR

    Your question demonstrates why food label comparisons are not always as equal as we might think.

    If you look at the label on a box of Cheerios, you will read that one serving provides 75 calories, whereas one serving of Kashi Heart to Heart contains 110 calories.

    “Easy,” you might think. “The Cheerios are way lower in calories than Heart to Heart.”

    Not so fast.

    A serving of Cheerios (3/4 of a cup) weigh 0.7 ounces, whereas a serving of Kashi Heart to Heart (also ¾ of a cup) register as 1.2 ounces on the scale.

    In other words, Heart to Heart is a denser cereal than Cheerios.

    So, to truly determine how they compare, we need to look at what happens on an ounce by ounce basis.

    Do that, and the results are quite different.

    An ounce of Cheerios (1 cup) provides 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 100 milligrams of calcium (that’s 10 percent of a day’s worth before you pour any milk!), and 170 milligrams of potassium.

    An ounce of Kashi Heart to Heart (approximately 3/5 of a cup) clocks in at 95 calories, 1.3 grams of fat, 77 milligrams of sodium, 4.3 grams of fiber, 4.3 grams of sugar, 0 milligrams of calcium, and 86.1 milligrams of potassium.

    So, yes, you can eat “twice the amount” of Cheerios in terms of cups (a cup and a half of Cheerios adds up to 150 calories, while that same amount of Kashi Heart to Heart clocks in at 220 calories), but ounce by ounce, the difference is minimal.

    Bottom line: if you like the taste of Cheerios, you’re not missing out on anything by sticking with them.


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