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The Truth About “Healthy” Cereals

By KIRAN DHILLON

You might be surprised to learn that many adult cereals are actually worse than children's cereals.

According to a May report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), "Eating a bowl of kids' cereal every day would add up to eating 10 pounds of sugar a year." The report also stated: "Cereals that pack in as much sugar as junk food should not be considered part of a healthy breakfast or diet."

Cereal with milk

Let's repeat that: "Cereals that pack in as much sugar as junk food should not be considered part of a healthy breakfast or diet."

But while unhealthy kids' cereals featuring frosted goodies and hyper characters aren't difficult to spot, many unhealthy adult choices hide behind misleading claims about nutritional value and healthy alternatives.

[Read More: Foods to Keep Out of Your Kitchen]

To help illustrate just how bad some "healthy" cereals can be, research engine FindTheBest measured sugar content in five popular adult choices and compared them to a few of the most blatantly sugary kids' cereals.

Since few people eat what qualifies as one serving -- typically between three quarters and one cup -- FindTheBest measured a more realistic serving size: one-and-a-half cups.

 

 

The worst kids' cereal, Honey Smacks, has the same amount of sugar as the worst "healthy" adult cereal. But not only do the "healthy" cereals above compete with the kids' cereals, but they outpace the sugar content in Coco Roos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks by one to 11 grams.

To put it all in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends consuming no more than five percent of your calories in sugar per day.

For an adult of a normal body-mass index, five percent is equivalent to around 25 grams of sugar -- or six teaspoons. So if you eat any of the cereals above for breakfast, you'll surpass, or almost surpass, your intake of sugar for the entire day.

[Read More: Why Just Eating Healthy Won’t Guarantee Weight Loss]

But there is a bright side: Not all cereals are poor choices. The EWG recommends that parents give their children cereals with no more than four grams of sugar per serving (a recommendation that is wise for adults as well), and there are plenty of options that fit this criteria. The next time you go to the grocery store, be sure to check the nutrition info before you take the "heart healthy" or "high in fiber" label at face value.

In the meantime, see some of the healthier options below:

 

--Kiran

Readers -- Do you eat cereal for breakfast? Why or why not? Which are your favorites if you do? Are you concerned about the sugar content in your cereal? Did you find this article helpful? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Kiran Dhillon is a writer for FindTheBest.com, a research engine dedicated to helping consumers find all the information they need on thousands of topics. She works in the health space, seeking to expose common nutrition misconceptions and share new discoveries based on insights from the data.

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