In keeping with my series on label reading, the next product I am going to look at it Honey Nut Cheerios.
Honey Nut Cheerios are made by General Mills and boast whole grain, natural flavoring and real honey.
But does that really mean what it sounds like? On the surface this cereal seems like a far better choice than many of the other options on the store shelves that appeal to kids, let’s take a look at the label and see if that is true.
Whole Grain Oats
Whole grain means none of the healthy stuff is removed like in refined products. Traditionally oats are not refined anyway, and oats have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. This is actually a good ingredient to find as the first one!
The less added sugar the better as far as our bodies are concerned, and this product only has 9 grams of sugar, so while it is the second ingredient, they have not overdone the amount, and sugar is much better than processed high fructose corn syrup.
Modified Corn starch
Modified corn starch is used as a thickener or texture agent and it is a chemically processed ingredient. There is no evidence of it being harmful, but it is not a natural ingredient because it is processed.
Honey has numerous health benefits including being a source of vitamins and antioxidants and having anti-bacterial properties. It is a much better alternative to sugar in our diets. The only problem with honey is that there has been some discussions, though nothing proven that eating honey that isn’t local to your immediate area can cause a higher risk of allergies.
Brown Sugar Syrup
The best I can tell is that brown sugar syrup is brown sugar mixed with corn syrup. This would make this yet another added sweetener to this product, but again, the overall sugar content in this product is only 9 grams.
Salt is a natural preservative and flavor enhancer and there are very few things that don’t have added salt. The sodium in this product is 160 mg per serving (3/4 cup) which is about 1/10 th of the recommended maximum sodium intake per day.
Tripotassium Phosphate is a food additive that acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent or whipping agent. It is basically a preservative to make the cereal shelf stable and it is interesting to note that it is also used in fertilizer.
Canola Oil and/or Rice Bran Oil
Canola oil is almost exclusively genetically modified to create it. It is not a natural oil and you will be hard pressed to find it in an organic version. Rice Bran Oil is said to be a much better alternative and contains vitamin E and potentially can help reduce cholesterol but the studies are far from conclusive.
Natural Almond Flavor
The problem with saying something uses “natural” flavor is that it does not mean that the flavor wasn’t created in a lab, it just means that it was created from natural ingredients. It likely was processed and also likely that it wasn’t actually made from nuts.
The additional ingredients are all added vitamins and minerals.
Honey Nut Cheerios are certainly not the worst food out there. It appears as if they have attempted to make it a healthier choice for kids for breakfast than so many of the colored cereals with marshmallows and such in them. But as a parent, how hard is it to make oatmeal from scratch and put some local, organic honey in it? Sure the added vitamins are appealing but the reason for that is because we aren’t getting the vitamins in our diets because we are eating processed foods. If we were eating REAL food, including fruits and vegetables, we would be getting all the vitamins our bodies need from our food. And if we are lacking, a good vitamin supplement is better choice.
What cereal do your kids eat?
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