It seems like everywhere you look in the grocery store, products are masquerading as healthy options.
- “Low-fat cheese.”
- “Sugar-free Jell-O.”
- “Low-sodium crackers.”
- “Hearth-healthy cereal.”
But are any of these products actually good for you? Let’s be honest, just because something is “less bad” doesn’t mean it’s good. For example, Lean Pockets are still highly processed meats and cheeses in a white flour package.
Just How Healthy Are Cheerios, Really?
However, products like Cheerios make an altogether different health claim. Cheerios say they can help lower your cholesterol and are suitable for your health. But are they?
Keep reading for an in-depth look.
One of the best things Cheerios has going for it is that they’re made from whole-grain oats. This ingredient is beneficial for several reasons. Whole grain oats are full of nutrients, including:
While there’s a massive trend in our society about how carbohydrates are terrible, the theory isn’t entirely accurate. A more precise statement would suggest that certain types of carbohydrates can be harmful or lead to weight gain if eaten improperly.
First, understand that all carbs are broken down into sugars: even quinoa and brown rice. However, the speed at which your body absorbs these sugars is what determines how bad they can be for you.
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates loaded with fiber, the ingredient that can lower a person’s cholesterol. Fiber slows down the metabolic process. Your body absorbs sugars slower, avoiding insulin spikes but still delivering the energy.
However, your body can only process so much energy at once. When you ingest simple sugars (soda, candy, pastries, typical sugary cereals), your body gets a massive influx of energy. Often, this is too much energy.
This energy spikes your insulin levels, which trigger a response in which this energy that cannot be used is now stored. Energy is stored in our body in one way – as fat. That’s why a diet high in refined sugar is nearly guaranteed to lead to obesity and/or diabetes.
However, being healthy is about more than avoiding excess weight gain. For your benefit, you should learn more about living a healthier and happier life.
Speaking of sugars, let’s take a look at the sugar content in Cheerios.
In the original, basic product, Cheerios contain 20 grams of carbohydrates. Of these 20 grams, only one gram comes from sugar. For reference, Fruity Pebbles has nearly 14 grams of sugar.
Therefore, when you eat a bowl of regular Cheerios, you’re getting tons of fiber and other nutrients and only one gram of added sugar per serving.
However, we’re only talking about plain Cheerios here. What about the other flavors?
Let’s look at the most popular flavor, Honey Nut Cheerios.
Honey Nut Cheerios, while still made with whole-grain oats, is much more appealing to the public at large. They’re sweeter and more satisfying. But are they still healthy?
At just one cup of cereal, Honey Nut Cheerios has 12 grams of sugar, barely less than Fruity Pebbles. Some of the main ingredients include honey (of course), modified corn starch, sugar, and brown sugar. While you still get the benefits from the whole grains, you’re also introducing a considerable influx of sugar.
Lastly, consider that most people don’t measure out an exact cup of cereal. Most people typically just fill the bowl with at least 1.5 to 2 cups. Two cups of Honey Nut Cheerios would give you 24 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of eating two candy bars.
What other ingredients are in Cheerios.
In plain Cheerios, the list is relatively short, especially as processed foods go. It contains whole-grain oats, modified corn starch, sugar, salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, wheat starch, and vitamin E.
However, in Honey Nut Cheerios, there’s also brown sugar syrup, honey, and canola and/or rice bran oil. As the flavors of Cheerios get more involved, naturally, so do the ingredients.
If we’re examining all aspects of Cheerios, it’s only fair to look at its exceptional qualities as well. Most cereals these days are fortified with a large number of vitamins. The food companies know that our diets consist primarily of processed convenience foods and offer a simple solution.
Cheerios come with the following vitamins infused when eaten with skim milk:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6 and B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Folic Acid
While many dietitians would tell you it’s better to get your vitamins and minerals from whole-food sources such as fruits and vegetables, the majority of Americans need vitamin-fortified foods from cereals and other convenience foods.
Type of Milk
Finally, the battle of a healthy bowl of cereal can be won or lost in the final step – adding the milk. While we all know that whole milk tastes better, skim milk has far fewer grams of fat.
However, there are also studies out there that suggest non-dairy milk may be better for you overall. Milk is loaded with calcium and therefore boasts boosting bone strength, but some studies suggest milk leaches calcium from the body. It’s also often said that all humans are lactose intolerant to some degree.
But don’t worry, if you decide you don’t want dairy milk anymore, you’re not without options. There’s a wide range of non-dairy milk out there, including:
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Cashew milk
- Macadamia milk
- Oat milk
- Soy milk
Each alternative milk has a unique flavor. Many of them also come in chocolate and/or vanilla varieties.
The Bottom Line on Cheerios
Well, are Cheerios good for us or not?
The bottom line is – yes and no. If you eat a moderate amount of regular Cheerios with nonfat or non-dairy milk, then yes, Cheerios can be beneficial in your diet.
However, any other flavor of Cheerios will come with a ton of added sugars, and you may as well eat Cocoa Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Add whole milk into the mix, and you’re dealing with a meal high in sugar and fat – the perfect cocktail for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you want more informative advice and tips, check out the rest of our articles before you go!