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The 10 Worst Ways to Start Your Day

Posted on 30th October, by Aaron Shelley in Articles. Comments Off

The 10 Worst Ways to Start Your Day

Twinkies for Breakfast?

You wouldn’t eat ice cream for breakfast, or hand your family packages of Twinkies as they head out the door in the morning. But a new report from the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, reveals that’s exactly what you could be doing if you’re eating any of a dozen popular breakfast foods with sky-high sugar counts. The group analyzed the nutritional content of 84 cereals, some of which were over 50 percent sugar by weight, and found that some of the most popular children’s cereals could send a child into sugar shock before he or she has a chance to slurp the red-dye-tainted milk at the bottom of the bowl. And it’s not just kids cereals. Adult breakfasts aren’t exactly healthy either, the group found. Keep reading to discover the worst of the worst cereals they found, and how you can replace them with a truly healthy breakfast.

Kellogg’s Honey Smacks

The bad news: Undoubtedly the worst offender on the list, a single cup of this cereal could smack you with 20 grams of sugar, more than a Hostess Twinkie, and the cereal is 56 percent sugar by weight. Eat a bowl of it every day, and you’d consume 11 pounds of sugar in a year.

Your healthy alternative: If you like honey, there are a lots of other ways to get the taste without all the diabetes-inducing sugar. Drizzle raw, organic honey over a cup of plain Greek yogurt or a bowl of oatmeal. Greek yogurt has 15 grams of protein per serving and just 6 grams of naturally occurring sugar, and using real honey (not the heavily refined kinds used in processed foods) may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, research has found. Buckwheat honey has the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Post Golden Crisp

The bad news: You know things will be bad when the first ingredient listed on the box is “sugar.” That little bear is pushing a cereal that’s 52 percent sugar by weight, all the while claiming that it’s a “wholesome” breakfast. Yet the high sugar content negates any nutritional benefits from the wheat that it’s saturating.

Your healthy alternative: Go for a puffed wheat cereal that will actually do you some good, likeNature’s Path Kamut Puffs sugar-free cereal. Kamut is a form of heirloom wheat that has fewer calories and higher levels of slowly digestible carbs, which prevent blood sugar spikes, than other forms of wheat.

Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original & Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow

The bad news: Like both Golden Crisp and Honey Smacks, the first ingredient listed on boxes of Froot Loops and Froot Loops Marshmallow is sugar, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that they’re 41 and 48 percent sugar by weight, respectively. A serving of each contains roughly 13 grams of sugar. What is a surprise is that, a few years ago, an industry-backed front-of-package nutrition labeling schemedubbed these sugar bombs a “Smart Choice” because they purported to be higher in fiber than…other sugary cereals?

Your healthy alternative: For a truly smart choice, eat your fruit whole, not in “Loop” form or accompanied by marshmallows. Try a smoothie recipe from the Rodale Recipe finder for a healthy, low-sugar alternative that kids and adults will both like.

Cap’n Crunch Original Variety, Crunch Berries & OOPS! All Berries

The bad news: If you want a healthy breakfast, avoid anything served up by the good Cap’n. Ranging from 42 percent sugar by weight for his Crunch Berries to 47 percent sugar in OOPS! All Berries, the cereals contained as much sugar as an A&W Hot Fudge Sundae. That’s bad even by industry standards. In an effort to fight federal regulations on food marketing to children, cereal manufacturers have set up their own voluntary standards, recommending that no children’s cereal contain more than 38 percent sugar by weight.

Your healthy alternative: Quaker Oats would have been better off sticking to healthy breakfast foods like oatmeal, which parents can use as a base for real berries, either fresh or frozen depending on the season. Try the combo out in this kid-friendly recipe for One-Minute PB Berries Oatmeal, with peanut butter for added protein.

Kellogg’s Apple Jacks

The bad news: Another cereal masquerading as fruit, Apple Jacks was right up there with Cap’n Crunch, with 12 grams of sugar making the cereal 43 percent sugar by weight. That’s the same amount of sugar found in some varieties of ice cream.

Your healthy alternative: It really is better to eat real fruit, and not cereal disguised as fruit. So if you can’t give up your bowl of something fruity in the morning, opt for Lydia’s Organics grainless fruit cereals, which all contain less than 5 grams of sugar and list actual fruits, like apricots and apples, at the top of ingredients lists, not sugar like Apple Jack’s.

Wheaties Fuel

The bad news: Better not eat your Wheaties Fuel. Though whole grains are listed as the number one ingredient, the cereal itself has more sugar than a chocolate frosted donut from Dunkin’ Donuts.

Your healthy alternative: If you’re looking for fuel, particularly for a morning workout, less is definitely more with sugar, studies have shown. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that low-glycemic-index foods, those that prevent blood sugar spikes, can help you burn more fat up to three hours after a meal. Opt for old-fashioned oatmeal; fresh peaches, apples, and pears; dried apricots; whole-wheat toast; and low-fat yogurt to boost fat burn.

General Mills Cinnamon and Honey Nut Chex

The bad news: General Mills has been positioning its line of Chex cereals as healthier alternatives for people on gluten-free diets, due to the fact that they’re made with rice and corn, not wheat. That would be fine, except that their Cinnamon and Honey Nut varieties are 27 and 28 percent sugar by weight, surpassing the 25 percent limit that the government is trying to impose on food marketers.

Your healthy alternative: On a gluten-free diet? You can still grab a quick breakfast. Opt for protein-rich hard-boiled eggs, or whip up a batch of easy, no-wheat pancakes and freeze them. You can reheat them in the oven or microwave on busy mornings, and they taste just as good as fresh-made.

Quaker Oats Oh!s

The bad news: It’s bad enough that the friendly, wholesome Quaker is pushing a cereal that’s 44 percent sugar by weight, making it one of the worst cereals on EWG’s list. But to make matters worse, the first ingredient listed on the package isn’t oats at all but refined corn flour, which has little nutritional value and high levels of pesticide residues; 80 percent of all packaged foods contain genetically modified ingredients (like corn) that are bred to resist heavy applications of harmful pesticides.

Your healthy alternative: Again, oatmeal is your better bet here. If you like having something crunchy and sweet, top it with a few tablespoons of an organic granola, such as Ambrosial Granola Venetian Vineyard, elected as Preventionmagazine’s Healthiest Cereal of 2011.

Frosted Flakes, Regular and Reduced Sugar

The bad news: Genetically modified, milled corn flakes coated with sugar are bound to be unhealthy, and, it turns out, even the Reduced Sugar version isn’t g-r-r-r-r-eat, either. The “reduced” sugar version contains 8 grams, just 3 less than the 11 grams of sugar in Frosted Flakes original, and both cereals surpass the 25 percent sugar-by-weight limit that the federal government would like cereal manufacturers to abide by.

Your healthy alternative: Broaden your horizons a little and look for heirloom-grain flakes. Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes use the same healthy kamut wheat as their Kamut Puffs, along with spelt, barley, millet and quinoa, all of which boast a healthier nutrition profile than milled corn.

Post Pebbles

The bad news: Fruity, cocoa, marshmallow—these pebbles are best reserved for decoration than eating. In addition to the fact that they all contain as much sugar as three Chips Ahoy! cookies (11 grams)—and are 37 percent sugar by weight—thefood dyes used in these cereals (as well as most of the others in this list) have been linked to hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder in children.

Your healthy alternative: Smoothies, oatmeal topped with fruit, the aforementioned fruit-filled grainless cereals, and pretty much anything containing real fruit are a step up from these day-glo sugar bits. Adding colorful berries and fruits to pancakes or oatmeal will give you some ADHD-free color variety, as well.

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