Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Smart Choices

During my daily stroll through multiple media websites I found this very interesting article about the Smart Choices program. I haven't paid much attention to it because I don' t think I need a symbol to tell me if something is a good choice or not. I feel like I can decide that on my own with the knowledge I have about nutrition. Again, I know I'm not an expert, but I pay attention to it, research and try to stay as educated as possible.

Here is the article.

The first sentence just jumped out at me. Froot Loops and Coco Puffs are Smart Choices? What? Why in the world would someone think a sugary cereal like that would be smart for kids or anyone for that matter?

I proceeded to the Smart Choices website to do some research. What was their criteria? What other products are labeled as Smart Choices that probably aren't? How many parents are giving their children these products and think it is the best option?

Here is the Smart Choices Program website.

I started by taking a look at the nutrition criteria to become a Smart Choices item. As I strolled through and looked at the criteria for fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol all of that made sense to me. Yes, foods with less that 35% calories from fat are a smarter choice. Yes, foods with 0g trans fat are smarter choice. Yes, foods with less than 60mg of cholesterol (per serving) are a smarter choice. Then I came to the added sugar portion. Not just sugar, but added sugar.

Desserts make the Smart Choices list if they have less than 100 calories or 6g of added sugar. What? 100 calories of added sugar is smart? How about 0 calories? Cereals make the cut if they have 12g or less of added sugar. My. Oh. My.

Now, I know not everyone on the planet is going to give up grains and dairy. I know not everyone wants to eat paleo or zone or somewhat clean for that matter. I have to believe there are much smarter "Smart Choices" than some that are listed. Here are some cereals that made the Smart Choices list that blow my mind:

Apple Jacks (100 calories, 12 grams sugar per 1 cup serving)
Corn Pops (110 calories, 12 grams sugar per 1 cup serving)
Froot Loops (110 calories, 12 grams sugar per 1 cup serving)
Frosted Flakes (110 calories, 11 grams sugar per 3/4 cup serving)
Cocoa Puffs (110 calories, 11 grams sugar per 3/4 cup serving)
Lucky Charms (110 calories, 11 grams sugar per 3/4 cup serving)

If those cereals are good for you, then what cereal is not considered a smart choice? I did a search for cereals high in sugar. I found a list that rated some of the worst cereals high in sugar that are marketed towards children. Here is the ironic thing: a lot of these same Smart Choices cereals showed up on this Consumer Reports list for the Top Worst Rated Cereals High in Sugar. Wow.

Those cereals were never in my house growing up, with the exception of the occasional box of Frosted Flaks for my dad. We were Cheerios and Rice Krispies people.

Now of course there are lots of items on the Smart Choices list that are actually fairly smart choices for the non paleo/zone person who is trying to be smart. Here are a couple of the cereals.

Special K (120 calories, 4 g sugar per 1 cup serving)
Cheerios (100 calories, 1 g sugar per 1 cup serving)
Crispix (110 calories, 3 g sugar per 1 cup serving)
Quaker Life (120 calories, 6 g sugar per 3/4 cup serving)

But let's face it, what kid gets excited about Special K and Cheerios? Plus, what person only eats 1 cup or 3/4 cup of cereal? Not me. I was a two bowler back in my cereal days. Anyway, I was just shocked. Knowing that people are probably eating two servings of cereal in one sitting and around 24 g of added sugar before your day has barely started is nuts.

I'll stick with my egg whites, veggies, turkey sausage and almonds thank you very much. I think those are pretty smart choices for me. No sugar high/crash here.

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