How Much Sugar Is REALLY In Your Food?

Frosted Mini Wheats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Raisin Bran, Lucky Charms. Which of these has the most grams of sugar per serving? Which of these has the least? I wouldn’t recommend guessing unless you pay close attention to nutrition labels. The answer might surprise you.

The other day I was at Wal-Mart, kind of hungry and trying to pick up something to eat. Passing by the cereal aisle, my boyfriend suggested, “Why don’t you get some cereal?” I had been having a craving for cereal, so I thought “Why not?” and started browsing the aisle.

Wal-Mart seems to be the only physical store that offers Rice Krispies Treats Cereal these days, and I’d always loved it as a kid. I stared at it for a moment, and then forced myself to walk past it. I have a sweet tooth, but sometimes the extra sugar isn’t worth it, right?

I kept glancing up and down the aisle, eyeballing prices, cereals, brands… Truthfully, against my better judgment I would eat Rice Krispies Treats Cereal almost any day. There’s just something about it, and reminiscing about Rice Krispies Treats as a kid is something you can’t do with say, Raisin Bran. But I still kept trying to avoid it for the “sugary kids’ cereal” reason.

That’s when my boyfriend noticed something…

“There’s actually not a lot of sugar in here, you don’t have to feel bad about it,” he remarked.  

Not a lot of sugar?! Yeah, right. What’s your idea of “not a lot”? I kept thinking.

So just as I approached the “healthiest” cereals, I walked back to the purple Rice Krispies Treats Cereal box. Sure enough, a quick check of the label confirmed – there’s only 9g of sugar per serving (3/4 cup).

Surely, if a cereal that mimics the sugary treats it was named after has 9g of sugar per serving, other cereals must have a much lower amount of sugar per serving, right?

Nope. You’d be surprised.

If you don’t religiously pay attention to nutrition labels, you may be overlooking the same thing I did. You may wind up demonizing cereals that are actually healthier (in a sense) than the “healthy” cereals.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t take into account vitamin enrichment, whole grains, fiber, protein, natural food sources versus additives and preservatives, etc, etc, etc.

I’m not going to make some bogus claim that Rice Krispies Treats Cereal will lower your cholesterol the way Honey Nut Cheerios claims to do. Vitamin enrichment and carbs aside, Rice Krispies Treats Cereal still isn’t really anything nutritious. But when it comes to the sugar levels, it is definitely something to take note of.

Here’s how some “sugary” and “healthy” cereals stack up (sugar is listed in grams per serving):

That is just a small sampling of some popular cereals and how their sugar quantity compares to each other.

You’d expect the gap in sugar content to be pretty wide between the “healthy” cereals and the “sugary” cereals, yet in some cases it is surprisingly narrow. I really like Kashi GoLean and GoLean Crunch, but I could actually enjoy a bowl of marshmallow-flavored Rice Krispies Treats Cereal for a tad less sugar (taking into account the difference in serving size – it’d be about 9.75g for a 3/4 cup serving).

Honey Nut Cheerios is the same both in serving size and sugar content, yet Honey Nut Cheerios reminds you of lowering your cholesterol – Rice Krispies Treats Cereal makes you think of splurging on dessert.

It’s an interesting discovery that I’m sure goes unnoticed very frequently. It’s the same thing as salad dressing being loaded with sugar. You don’t notice it because it doesn’t taste sweet, but somewhere in there they’ve hidden high-fructose corn syrup.

Salty products have a similar dilemma. Especially with frozen meals, they may not taste the least bit salty, bland even, yet they are brimming with sodium. The sodium content is through the roof but since you can’t taste it, you’re sprinkling on just a little more.

So, from now on, I think I’ll sit back, relax, and enjoy my marshmallow-y childhood goodness in a bowl with some milk. I can get the fiber in next time.


Posted on July 30, 2011, in Food, Health, Life, Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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