Cheerios have been a household staple in the United States since their introduction in 1941.
They are still some of the most popular breakfast cereals on the market and are now available worldwide.
Despite being marketed as nutritious, you might be wondering whether Cheerios are a healthy choice – and how the different strains compare.
This article examines the nutrients, flavors, and cons of Cheerios to help you determine if they are a good fit with your routine.
Cheerios are mainly made from whole grain oats.
Whole grains contain all parts of the grain, so they tend to provide more nutrients than refined grains. In addition, consuming high-fiber whole grains can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease (1).
In addition, Cheerios are low in calories and fat. They also have several essential nutrients that many people don’t get enough of, such as fiber and vitamin D (2, 3).
Notably, 1 cup (28 grams) of Cheerios provides 45% of the Daily Value (DV) of iron, which many people are deficient in. This mineral plays a vital role in transporting oxygen through your body (4, 5).
Keep in mind, however, that many of these nutrients, including iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, are added during processing and are not naturally occurring.
One cup (28 grams) of plain Cheerios without milk provides (4):
- Calories: 100
- Fat: 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 20 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Protein: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin B12: 25% of the DV
- Calcium: 10% of the DV
- Iron: 45% of the DV
- Zinc: 25% of the DV
As you can see, Cheerios are very low in calories and lacking in protein and fat. For these reasons, they alone do not provide a balanced meal.
With 1 cup (244 grams) of 2% cow’s milk, you get an extra 122 calories, 8 grams of protein, and a boost in fat, calcium, and vitamin D (6).
If you choose non-dairy milk, which is usually low in protein, add a handful of pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds to your granola for a plant-based source of protein.
Adding protein to any meal or snack can help make you feel full.
After all, Cheerios are very affordable compared to many other breakfast items.
They are kid friendly
Children aged 8 months and over can safely enjoy Cheerios, but only if they are willing to eat solid foods (7).
They are good finger food for toddlers and do not pose a great risk of suffocation, as they are easily soft when wet.
Cheerios can be a great way to get more whole grains and iron into your child’s diet. Still, it’s important not to rely on them too much. You should try to use plenty of whole foods from each food group to support optimal growth and development.
Cheerios are made primarily from whole grains and contain a variety of important nutrients, including iron, fiber, and vitamin D.
Cheerios come in different flavors. In fact, there are at least 15 varieties – seasonal varieties occasionally appear.
Most are made from whole grain oats, but some varieties contain other grains, added sugars, and additional ingredients.
Some of the most popular Cheerios flavors are:
- Easy. These are the original cheerios and are the simplest option. The first ingredient is oats. They only contain 1 gram of added sugar and no additional flavoring.
- Honey nut. These are one of the best-selling varieties, sweetened with sugar and honey and a hint of almond flavor.
- Chocolate. This variety is made from corn and oats, as well as cocoa powder and sugar.
- Apple Cinnamon. Made primarily from whole grain oats and sugar, this variety also contains applesauce and cinnamon.
- Frosted. These are made from whole grain oats and corn flour and sweetened with a sugar coating with a vanilla flavor.
- Multigrain. This variety combines whole grain oats, corn, and brown rice. It’s sweetened with a little less sugar than other varieties.
- Ancient grains. This variety is sweetened with sugar and is made from whole grain oats, quinoa, and rice.
You may find that many of the flavored Cheerios varieties have added sugar. When trying to cut down on your sugar intake, it is best to limit your intake of the sugary flavors or just go for the simple option.
Cheerios come in many flavors. While most are based on whole grain oats, some contain additional ingredients like added sugar.
While cheerios are generally a nutritious choice, they are short in certain areas.
Very low in protein
Breakfast cereals are often marketed as a complete meal. However, most of them are very low in protein – and Cheerios are no exception.
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Including a quality source of protein in every meal is one of the best ways to ensure that you are getting your body’s daily protein needs.
The recommended protein intake is at least 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight. For someone who weighs 68 kg, this equates to a total of around 55 grams of protein daily (8).
A 1-cup (28 gram) serving of Cheerios with 4 ounces (120 ml) whole or low-fat cow’s milk provides only about 7 grams of protein, most of which comes from the milk.
If you plan to have Cheerios as a meal, consider pairing it with a source of protein such as eggs, Greek yogurt, or scrambled tofu eggs. You can also add a handful of nuts or a spoonful of nut butter to your bowl for protein and healthy fats.
Can package added sugar
Several types of Cheerios contain large amounts of added sugar.
For example, 1 cup (35 grams) of Honey Nut Cheerios contains 12 grams of sugar – a whopping 12 times as much sugar as the simple variety (9).
Excessive sugar consumption is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In addition, it can contribute to excessive caloric intake and unhealthy weight gain (10, 11).
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women (12).
While occasional sugar consumption is unlikely to be harmful, it is a good idea to be careful how much you eat, especially if cheerios are a staple in your diet or you routinely consume more than one serving at a time.
Opting for the simple strain is the best option to keep your sugar intake low.
Cheerios are considered processed foods
Cheerios are a processed grain product, which means that the ingredients used to make Cheerios undergo significant processing to create the final product.
Although Cheerios are made with whole grain oats, which sets them apart from other grains with more refined grains like cornmeal or white rice, many varieties of Cheerios are filled with unhealthy ingredients like cane sugar, corn syrup, and preservatives (13).
In addition, because of the processing that the oats go through to make Cheerios, eating a bowl of Cheerios is not the same as enjoying a bowl of oatmeal.
A study of 30 adults found that consuming Honey Nut Cheerios resulted in a much greater blood sugar and insulin response compared to consuming equal servings of less processed grain products, including steel cut and old-fashioned oats (14).
Although honey-nut cheerios are high in added sugar and are therefore much more likely to raise blood sugar than unsweetened grains, studies have shown that processing whole grains in general significantly affects blood sugar response, with more refined products delivering higher blood sugar and insulin spikes (15, 16, 17).
While the occasional enjoyment of Cheerios won’t harm your health, it’s best to choose less processed options whenever possible, especially if you’ve regularly consumed sweetened varieties of Cheerios.
For example, instead of your morning bowl of honey and nut cheerios, try a bowl of oatmeal with berries and a dollop of natural nut butter.
Cheerios are a low protein, processed grain product and some flavors are high in sugar. You can balance your nutritional intake by adding a source of protein and moderating your consumption of the higher sugars.
Cheerios can be a healthy and nutritious part of almost any diet, but it’s important to balance your diet with other nutrients and exercise in moderation if you prefer the higher sugars.
For more protein, serve your Cheerios with high-protein or non-dairy milk, plus a scoop of nut butter or a handful of nuts. Hard-boiled eggs and omelets are also great accompaniments.
Topping your muesli with berries or sliced fruits can increase your vitamin and mineral intake, while flax flour, hemp seeds, and chia seeds can add fiber and healthy fats.
Just make sure you eat a diverse selection of whole foods throughout the day to meet all of your nutritional needs.
While Cheerios can be part of a healthy diet, you may want to combine them with a source of protein for a more balanced meal. It is best to avoid or limit your intake of high-sugar options.
Cheerios are classic breakfast cereals made from whole grain products. Not only are they low in fat and calories, but they’re affordable and packed full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Cheerios, however, are a processed food, and some flavors are loaded with sugar.
Therefore, you should minimize your intake or choose low-sugar varieties such as simple or multigrain. You can also increase the protein content with nuts or nut butters.
While these breakfast cereals can certainly be part of a healthy diet, you should also consume a variety of whole foods to meet your body’s nutritional needs.
For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News
For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.
RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.
- Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
- Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-373-3874.
- Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at TKleparski@parkland.edu or 217- 351-2206.
- The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.
STEVICK CENTER ACTIVITIES
Knit or crochet for those in need:
Meditative Movement with Yoga:
- 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.
- Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.
Card game 13:
- To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.
- 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.
HOT LUNCH PROGRAM
The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.
For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.
NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.
- BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.
- Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.
- Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.
- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.
- Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.
If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.
Contact Pam Jacobsen at email@example.com or 217-359-6500.
- RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.
Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.
The future of nutrition advice
By Lisa Drayer, CNN
(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”
The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.
That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.
How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.
Below is an edited version of our conversation.
CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?
dr Frank Hu: The idea of precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.
CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?
Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.
Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.
CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?
Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.
Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.
fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.
CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?
Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.
CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?
Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.
Another area of precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.
fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.
CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?
Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.
At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.
Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.
CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?
Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.
Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.
But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.
The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.
Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?
In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.
Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.
Nutritional value of bread
Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.
For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).
Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).
Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).
Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).
Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.
Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.
But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).
As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.
If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.
Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.
Nutritional value of peanut butter
Many people find peanut butter delicious.
Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.
Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).
Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).
For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).
Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).
When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.
When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.
Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!
When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.
Nutritional value of jelly
The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?
Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).
Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).
However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.
If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.
Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.
Guiding the way to thrive
Expert’s nutrition tips for runners
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