Protein, protein, protein…what is the fascination with protein? With cereal sales dropping the last few years (we now have the almighty Greek yogurt and even eggs have regained respect), Cheerios are jumping on the “protein for health” bandwagon. After all, carbs have been deemed “evil” and fat as “fattening,” so protein is the “IT” macronutrient! I have discussed the “myth” that young athletes should eat a lot of additional protein and the dangers associated with a high protein, low carb diet for athletes that are competing and growing at the same time in my High Protein Diet Blog. However, the “protein supplement” industry is worth billions of dollars. There are powders and shakes and bars and…breakfast cereal?
Last week, Cheerios, the largest breakfast cereal brand in the country, announced the introduction of two new cereals fortified with “protein clusters,” made up mostly of oats, soy and lentils. There are two new flavors hitting stores in the very near future; Oats & Honey and Cinnamon Almond. The products are promoted as having 11 grams (g) of protein with milk, more than half of your daily recommended whole grains, 13 vitamins and minerals, and a good source of fiber. Sounds great, right? Well, this is when reading labels is a MUST! Let’s see how the cereals really stack up:
Original Cheerios (1 cup): 100 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated), 20g carbs, 3g protein, 3g fiber, 1g sugars, 160mg sodium
Cheerios Protein Oats & Honey (1 1/4 cups): 210 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated), 42g carbs, 7g protein, 4g fiber, 17g sugars, 280mg sodium
Cheerios Protein Honey & Cinnamon (1 1/4 cups): 220 calories, 4.5g fat (0.5g saturated), 40g carbs, 7g protein, 3g fiber, 16g sugars, 220mg sodium
Notice anything? Wow, the sugars! Original Cheerios have always been considered a “healthy, low sugar” cereal, given to young toddlers mainly because it provides whole grains without lots of sugar. However, the ingredient list for the new Cheerios Protein include brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, sugar and refiner’s syrup. Wow! That’s A LOT of sugars!
Interestingly, an article in the Fooducate Blog recently figured out that a double serving of Original Cheerios provides 6 grams of protein, almost as much as the 7 grams provided by Cheerios Protein but with 2 grams of sugar total! Add milk, and Original Cheerios provide14 grams of protein, even more than the Cheerios Protein!
Bottom line: Cheerios Protein really don’t make much nutritional sense. So stick to the “original” yellow box!