9 sugar sources in a healthy cereal?

Grocery shopping has its challenges—especially when faced with product marketing intended to help, but does it really?

I created a videosugar cereal free from 101 artificial_neily after seeing a package of cereal that looked so healthy because it was free from 101 artificial preservatives & ingredients. Thrilled at first, I looked further and then saw the Nutrition Fact panel and ingredient list. I was not so thrilled…sugar.

The Free From 101 is not just one cereal, but a whole line of Simple Truth branded products sold at Kroger. I love Kroger and have been their patron for years. I like the Simple Truth line but know to look beyond the front of package.

Be a smart consumer and look beyond the headlines. Here’s the video and transcript (Thanks to Sarah Barnes for the transcription!)

Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition! I’m doing a little demo on cereal. This particular cereal is mixed berry granola. It’s “Free from 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients.”

I like the front of label packaging because you clearly see the 200 calories, fat, sodium. It’s (also) a low sodium product which is great. (Note: 140 mg sodium or less is low sodium)

sugar cereal label_neily_front package

You can also see the amount of sugar—16 grams of sugar. The equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. Each of these packets represents a teaspoon, so there are 4 teaspoons of sugar in this particular product.

Where is that sugar coming from?

We have to look at the (Nutrition Facts) label. Read the package. The first sugar cereal 9 sources of sugar_neilyingredient here is whole rolled wheat. I like that—it’s a whole grain product.

Second ingredient is milled cane sugar, then we have rice flour, corn starch, dried cranberries, which consists of dried cranberries sugar and oil. Then we’ve got brown rice syrup, honey, molasses, freeze-dried berries, barley malt syrup, freeze-dried strawberries, and freeze-dried raspberries. The berries, of course, are a source of fruit, concentrated sugar. Nonetheless it is a “natural” source of sugar.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this product and look for that fruit. A couple of blueberries, and a cranberry. So, there’s not really a ton of fruit in here. Honestly, that 16 grams is mostly going to be added sugar. sugar cereal half cup 200cal etc_neily

So what is a serving?

You’ve got to pay attention to the labels. Read the side of the package. A serving is—look up at the top there—it is half a cup. There are seven servings in this package, so half of a cup is a serving. Let’s measure out what is a half of a cup.

That’s a serving, 200 calories, 16 grams of sugar, 4 teaspoons, so I’ve barely filled the bottom of this particular bowl.

sugar cereal half cup in a bowl_neily


Another half of a cup, that’s 2 servings. You sugar cereal 3 svgs in a bowl 600cal_neilyroughly have about 3 servings of cereal here.

We’ve got to do the multiplying, so it’s 200 calories, you’re going to be getting 600 calories, and not just 4 teaspoons of added sugar, but you’ll get 12 teaspoons of added sugar.

What does the American Heart Association recommend?

For women the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women per day and 9 teaspoons for men.

(Note: The 2015 Dietary Guidelines have a recommendation—for the first time—regarding added sugar. Limit to less than 10 percent of total calories. In a 2000 calorie per day diet that’s about 12 teaspoons of added sugar or 50 grams.)

Bottom line: Read your labels, read your portion sizes, and cut back on sugar.

For help, schedule a complimentary 30-minute Ditch Dieting Forever strategy session: bit.ly/meetwithneily

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach


  1. Jane HMears

    What a mess…. aside from oatmeal, no cereal for me.

    • Neily

      Pretty crazy isn’t it Jane? 🙂


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