The stuff the FDA lets people get away with never ceases to give me a bit of a giggle. And a bit of nausea, as well.
Take General Mills, for example. They're on a whole grains kick.
"Faboo," sez The Consumer! "Whole grains are good for you! They're in the food pyramid!! Hooray! Lucky Charms are health food!"
Well, not so fast there, Buck-o. There are a few things to consider here.
Let's have a look behind the box cover and check the ingredients. You are a label-reader, right?
So here is the list of ingredients in one box of "Whole Grain" Lucky Charms Cereal:
1) Whole Grain Oats,
OK, this is fine. Whole Grain Oats are a good ingredient, and if they're first on the list, it means they're the primary ingredient. So far, so good.
2) Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellows 5 & 6, Blue 1, Red 40, Artificial Flavor),
OK. Now we have a problem. Eating oat cereal with marshmallows as a "healthy" breakfast is sort of the equivalent of eating chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies for breakfast. So you've basically taken a healthy base ingredient and covered it in not one, not two, but THREE KINDS of sugar (sugar, corn syrup, dextrose) and a healthy dose of artificial colors and flavors.
Really? Marshmallows, and now more refined sugar?
4) Oat Flour,
As there is nothing here with the word "whole" in it, we can only assume this is the refined stuff. A refined flour (or sugar, of which there is plenty in this product, or salt...) goes through a strenuous and often chemical process that basically takes out all the good stuff and leaves very little, if any, nutritional value behind. Processed foods in general turn to sugar in the body very quickly, contributing to diabetes, obesity, and much worse. Yummy.
5) Corn Syrup,
Even more sugar. Of the very refined variety.
6+ ) Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Artificial 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 D
The remainder of these ingredients are chemical colors, flavors, preservatives, and chemically-made vitamins and minerals.
Not really sounding like the breakfast of champions any more, is it?
With all its "whole grain" goodness, one serving of Lucky Charms provides only 1 gram of fiber. One serving of whole grain oatmeal has about 5 grams of fiber, plus 7 grams of protein (just 2 grams of protein in those Charms). Meanwhile, the Lucky Charms has a walloping 11 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup serving (and you know you don't eat just 3/4 cup of this stuff).
My point is this: don't be fooled by buzzwords that are thrown all over packages:
"Less sugar!" (than what??)
"Made with Whole Grains!" (like Lucky Charms?)
"Part of a healthy breakfast!!" (provided everything else you eat for breakfast is healthy, that is)
"Fortified!" (which generally means they processed nutrients out, and had to replace them with chemical nutrients instead)
And so on.
Read labels. Educate yourself. Know what you're putting in your body, your children's bodies, your family's bodies. Your life really does depend on it.