Breakfast Blunder

18 Feb

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what does that mean in terms of good health? Well, it means that having a healthy breakfast is critical to establishing a positive eating pattern for the rest of the day. So bring on the Frosted Flakes. Huh?

If you are watching the sugar intake, and we all need to, then try to choose something low in sugar for breakfast. A poor breakfast choice would be sugar coated cereal like Frosted Flakes, and a good choice to start our day would include yogurt. Right?

Well, not necessarily. Some breakfast cereal has long been considered nothing more than a sugar delivery system by professional nutritionists like myself. So recommending yogurt over Frosted Flakes makes sense. But surprise! Not if you are concerned about sugar.

Let’s start to deconstruct sugar in the diet. Sugar is one of three kinds of carbohydrate: starch, fiber and sugar. It can occur naturally or can be added to foods during processing. Naturally occurring sugars include lactose in milk and fructose in fruit.

Added sugars originate from many plants, including corn, beets, and sugar cane. Those sugars are processed before being added to foods. The body does not always know the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. But it adds up.

Okay…enough with the chemistry lesson. Back to the cereal and yogurt. We can compare one 8 ounce serving of yogurt and one  3/4 cup serving of Frosted Flakes. These are the serving sizes listed on the label. Which breakfast has less sugar? Lets take a look.

But first,  I am going to let you in on some nutritional math. When looking at grams of sugar on a nutritional panel, keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. Now let’s do some math.

This yogurt has 37 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving. Soooooo…this “low fat” yogurt, a food generally thought to be a good choice, has a whopping 9.25 teaspoons of sugar. Whoa! Pretty surprising, right?

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The sugar coated breakfast cereal has less sugar than the yogurt. How much less? Back to that serving size of 3/4 cup. The breakfast cereal has 10 grams of sugar. Using our math, this equates to 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Quite a bit less than the yogurt. Milk has sugar in it too, so its fair to say that the cereal would increase in sugar if milk is added. Even with milk, though, the cereal is still lower in sugar than the yogurt.

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 It’s time to make smarter choices in the morning so we can set our day up for good nutrition from the start. How can you do that? Start reading labels. Take this math to the pantry and to the grocery store. By increasing your awareness of sugar in your food your decision about the most important meal of the day just may change.
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