Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama held a holiday reception with children, parents and staff at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Chit-chating with the kids, the subject of healthy breakfast came up. From the transcript:
CHILD: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast on Christmas morning?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, wow, that’s a good question.
CHILD: I usually eat Honey Nut Cheerios. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Okay, we’re not going to do any advertisements. (Laughter.) But that is a healthy breakfast, it is.
CHILD: You should eat some cookies…
Cheerios has definitely earned its place in the pantheon of trusted and beloved American brands. And Honey Nut Cheerios has been positioned as the sweet yet still healthy alternative to the sugar-free regular Cheerios brand.
But is it a healthy breakfast?
What you need to know:
Honey Nut Cheerios boasts its Honey and claims it can help reduce cholesterol:
Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal is a great tasting way to help lower your cholesterol. It’s made with real honey for a delicious sweet taste and soluble fiber from whole grain oats to help lower your cholesterol.*
Oh, in the small text we learn that:
* Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods, like Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Honey Nut Cheerios cereal provides .75 grams per serving.
But guess what, a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios contains only 2 grams of fiber. That’s even less than Froot Loops and Apple Jacks!
Here is Honey Nut Cheerios ingredient list:
Whole Grain Oats (Includes the Oat Bran), Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Natural Almond Flavor, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.
Take note, the second ingredient is Sugar. Not Honey. So there’s one bluff – General Mills would have you think that it’s Honey Nut, but it is more like “Sugar Without Nuts Cheerios“. There is only a hint of “Natural Almond Flavor”, which may or may not originate from real almonds.
To Honey Nut Cheerio’s defense, the total sugar count is 2.5 tsp, which is slightly less than most children’s cereals. There are also no artificial colors and no trans-fats.
So is this a healthy breakfast? Let’s just say there are many healthier options in the cereal category, but there are also many other cereals, especially for kids, that are not.
What to do at the supermarket:
If you are a Cheerios fan, the best option is regular Cheerios with less than half a teaspoon of sugar and 3 grams of fiber. Multigrain Cheerios are also a better choice then Honey Nut, because they have 3 grams of fiber, and only one and a half teaspoons of sugar.