Sugar In Breakfast Cereal

You wouldn’t think choosing a healthy breakfast cereal would be that hard and confusing to do.  But it can be and one of the ingredients to pay close attention to is the amount of sugar they contain.  In reality, some breakfast cereals are really not much more than a breakfast candy.

How does one know how to pick out a breakfast cereal that isn’t loaded with mounds of sugar?  There are two steps in becoming a smart consumer in making your decision easier and your breakfast cereal a healthier choice:

1.      Figure out how much sugar the cereal is composed of.   Looking at the Nutrition Facts panel find where it says “Total Carbohydrate” and underneath that will be a line saying “sugars.”  Choose a cereal that contains no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving, which is equivalent to about one and a half teaspoons of sugar. 

Another important thing to know is what percent of the serving size listed on the Nutrition Facts panel is composed of sugar.  To determine this, look at the number of grams of sugar listed and then look at the serving size listed in grams.  For example, if the serving size of a cereal is listed as one cup or 59 grams and the sugar content is 19 grams, divide the amount of sugar in grams by the total serving size, in grams.  In this example, this would be 19 divided by 59 which equals 32%.  Choose cereals composed of no more than 20% sugar.

2.      Look at the ingredient list.  Ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight, so the ingredient listed first is one that is most prevalent and then the rest of the ingredients are listed in descending order from there.  If sugar is one of the top three ingredients, the food product, whether a breakfast cereal or otherwise, most likely has a too high of a percentage of sugar in it.  Remember that sugar can be listed in different terms, such as brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, cane sugar, molasses, or honey.

Foods containing too much sugar are only adding more calories than what we need and also provide no nutrients such as vitamin, minerals, or fiber that other healthier foods contain.

Currently, the American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars to no more than half of your daily calorie allowance.  This means no more than 100 calories per day for women (about 6 teaspoons or 2 grams) and no more than 150 calories per day for men (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams).