Breakfast · Health · Lifestyle

Why Your Oatmeal May Not Be Healthier Than a Bowl of Fruit Loops


We’ve all heard that oatmeal is heart healthy. In fact, on Quaker’s website they talk about how oatmeal is “a superfood for your heart.” They also mention oatmeal is:

  • A good source of ‘whole-grains’
  • ‘Can be’ part of healthy weight management (nice loophole in your wording, Quaker)
  • And helpful for keeping your digestion regular

All of these, are in some form true.

The point I find most misleading is when they say “flavored oatmeal has modest amounts of sugar,” mentioning that the sugar added is only about “a tablespoon or less.”

Let’s look at the nutrition facts, for 1 packet of Instant Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal:

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 8.22.46 PM

At a 35g serving, we’ve got 130 calories and (focusing on sugar specifically), we have 13 g for one packet.

Now let’s look at a bowl of Fruit Loops cereal (with milk).


Now for a 1 cup serving (29 g) you’ll consume 150 calories and 12g of sugar. 

For this comparison, some things to keep in mind are:

  1. Yes, the serving sizes are slightly different
  2. We’re looking purely at sugar; I am by no means claiming that Fruit Loops are more nutritionally sound than oatmeal.

According to SugarStacks, one 25g serving of Gushers fruit snacks also 13g of sugar (the same as the flavored oatmeal) while 1 Twinkle has slightly more at 19g. 

According to Authority Nutrition, the reality is:

  • Sugar has no essential nutrients
  • Added sugar= ’empty calories’
  • Added sugar is high in fructose which is hard on your liver
  • Too much sugar can increase your risk of cancer, diabetes, and more
  • Sugar is addictive
  • Sugar is a leading contributor to obesity
  • It’s sugar that raises your cholesterol and gives you heart disease

Now let’s look at some steel-cut oats (It may not be my first choice, but I stuck with Quaker for comparison’s sake):

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 8.27.54 PM

So for a 45g serving (a bigger serving size than the 35g you get with the flavored), you’re consuming 170 calories and…would you look at that, only 1g of sugar. Not to mention double the protein of the flavored packet.

Verdict? Switch to unflavored steel-cut oats. I know that may seem incredibly bland, but just like your switch to black coffee, trust me, you’ll get used to it.

Plus, there are things you can add to make it more tasty like cinnamon or sliced almonds or blueberries (Yes, fruit has natural sugar, but also has vitamins and nutrients that are actually usable by the human body.

You don’t have to eat cardboard-bland food unless want to, depending on your fitness and weight loss goals.  Life is about balance and making informed compromises. You can still eat flavored oatmeal as long as you factor it into your daily sugar consumption.

According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars (different from natural sugar in fruits, etc.) you should eat in a day are:

  • Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons).
  • Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).

So, though Quaker mentions their oatmeal has ‘one tablespoon of added sugar or less,’ 1 tablespoon is equal to 3 teaspoons, and depending on your sex, there goes either 1/3 or 1/2 of your sugar allowance for the day! Now that’s food for thought!

Stay tuned for some of my favorite oatmeal recipes. 🙂

Remember: Small changes make a big difference!

2 thoughts on “Why Your Oatmeal May Not Be Healthier Than a Bowl of Fruit Loops

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