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The 10 Worst Cereals for Your Health

cinnamon toast crunch

People started eating cereals in prehistoric times. Seeker mentions speculation that human foraging brought the accidental domestication of these plants. The basic idea is that our ancestors ate the easiest-to-remove seeds, thus leaving behind their harder-to-remove counterparts. Over time, this selection process made the seeds harder and harder to remove, which was important because that meant farmers wouldn't lose their crops before harvest time. Cereals have formed an important part of the human diet ever since. Eating them to excess isn't a good thing. Still, the same is true for every food.

Breakfast cereal is a much more recent invention. Specifically, Britannica says it came into existence in the 19th century because of influence from Seventh-Day Adventists. The initial breakfast cereals were very bland because of beliefs about flavorful foods encouraging people to sin. However, it wasn't long before people started looking for something more pleasing to their palates. Nowadays, some cereals emphasize nutritional value over other considerations, while other cereals emphasize taste over other considerations. Unsurprisingly, the latter can be very unhealthy. Even so, some of them manage to stand out more than the rest.

10. Frosted Flakes

Frosted Flakes have been around for a long time. To be exact, the Kellogg Company launched the breakfast cereal in 1952, meaning it has remained popular for the better part of a century and counting. Chances are good that interested individuals can guess that Frosted Flakes are an ill-advised choice for people who are conscious about their nutritional intake. After all, Mashed says Frosted Flakes are more or less the same as Corn Flakes except coated with so much sugar that they look like they sound. That is a lot of sugar, to say the least. For that matter, Corn Flakes aren't the best choice of breakfast cereal either. They aren't as bad as the breakfast cereals on this list, but they are still worse than whole-grain breakfast cereals.

9. Honey Ohs!

Historically speaking, the popularity of honey predates the popularity of sugar in the west. The Sugar Association says sugarcane production existed in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and parts of China in ancient times. Unfortunately, sugar was expensive because of both production costs and transportation costs. As such, it isn't a coincidence that European empires set up sugarcane plantations on tropical islands, which took a brutal toll on enslaved laborers. Sugar prices didn't drop in Europe until the 19th century when Prussia and then France started planting sugar beets. In contrast, Buzz About Bees states that beekeeping was more widespread from an earlier time. Thanks to that, honey was the default sweetener before sugar in the west.

People sometimes tout honey as a healthier alternative to sugar. There is some basis for this. RealSimple points out honey has more nutrients plus less of an impact on blood sugar levels. Alas, it is still very much capable of being detrimental when eaten in excess. Of course, this breakfast cereal doesn't exactly force interested individuals to choose between one and the other. Unsurprisingly, Honey Ohs! contains a lot of honey. Just as unsurprisingly, Honey Ohs! contains a lot of sugar. Suffice it to say there is a reason why tooth decay was less common in the past than in the present.

8. Cocoa Krispies

Puffed rice isn't a new thing. However, Rice Krispies aren't exactly traditional puffed rice. For those unfamiliar, the Kellogg Company makes them by producing a rice and sugar paste, turning that into small pellets, and then heating those pellets until they puff up. Whatever the Kellogg Company says, that doesn't sound very healthy. For that matter, interested individuals should be very careful about the cereal company's claims because it has been misleading in the past. One excellent example would be the time when the FTC investigated it for making health claims about Rice Krispies that it couldn't back up.

Cocoa Krispies are a variation of Rice Krispies. As the name says, they are cocoa-flavored. Otherwise, Cocoa Krispies are just as bad as their standard counterpart because of their sugar content. It seems reasonable to say that people should always think twice when a breakfast cereal's sugar percentage is in the double digits.

7. Cap'n Crunch's Oops! All Berries

Berries are a healthy option. Generally speaking, they are packed full of nutrients while being low on calories. Furthermore, most people enjoy the taste of berries to some extent. As a result, it isn't uncommon to see people mixing a bland but healthy breakfast cereal with a handful of berries for flavor.

Alas, Cap'n Crunch's Oops! All Berries is nothing of the sort. On its own, Cap'n Crunch is a corn and oat cereal. Like its competitors, it has a lot of sugar, which has contributed much to its popularity. For proof, look no further than the numerous variations of the breakfast cereal. Some of these variations are permanent, whereas others are temporary. Oops! All Berries stands out by being the derivative of a derivative. In short, the Quaker Oats Company introduced a variation called Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries in 1967. It consisted of a mix of classic pieces and the so-called Crunch Berry pieces. Oops! All Berries is exactly what it sounds like, which is to say, a later variation containing all Crunch Berries with no classic pieces whatsoever.

6. Oreo O's

No one would believe Oreos to be healthy. The sandwich cookies are delicious. However, both the cookies and the cookies' filling are very much what most people would see as occasional snacks rather than regular staples. As a result, it is unsurprising to learn that Oreo O's isn't what people should eat if they are concerned about getting enough nutrients while maintaining a healthy weight and other health indicators.

Regardless, Oreo O's has had one of the shorter runs on this list. In part, this is because it is a more recent product, as shown by its initial launch in 1997. The other issue is that its global production ceased in 2007 before resuming in 2017. It wasn't a popularity issue. Instead, Oreo O's is a collaboration between Post Cereals and Kraft Foods, meaning it ran into trouble when the two companies stopped their collaboration while neither was willing to sell their stake to the other. Eventually, they started working again. Their test run showed that Oreo O's was as popular as ever even when they sold it under a different brand name. Due to that, Oreo O's has been back ever since 2017 with no indication of suspension anytime in the foreseeable future.

5. Froot Loops Marshmallows

Froot Loops are yet another breakfast cereal that has existed for decades and decades, thus inspiring a whole host of variations. The breakfast cereal looks how it sounds. That is to say, Froot Loops consist of fruit-flavored, multi-colored rings. Originally, those rings came in the colors red, orange, and yellow. The three additional colors of blue, green, and purple didn't make it in until the 1990s. Interested individuals should know that while the rings come in different colors, they share the same flavor. It isn't a specific fruit flavor but rather a blended fruit flavor. As for the rings, the Kellogg Company makes them out of several flours. One is wheat flour. Another is whole-grain oat flour. The third is a corn flour blend, which is a mix of two different corn flour.

On their own, Froot Loops are bad enough. The exact percentage of the breakfast cereal that is sugar varies from variation to variation. Still, the sugar percentage of Froot Loops hits the double digits and then continues for quite some time. Somehow, the variation with marshmallows manages to be worse. SF Gate points out that marshmallows are almost all-sugar. In other words, they present the same issue as every breakfast cereal on this list except in an even more intense form. There are ways to make somewhat healthier marshmallows, but those aren't the ones going into the boxes of Froot Loops Marshmallows.

4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch

The status of cinnamon was once somewhat similar to the status of sugar in the west. In short, cinnamon comes from several tree species in Asia. Strictly speaking, Ceylon cinnamon is the true cinnamon. In practice, most cinnamon comes from other species, which are more appropriately called cassia. Regardless, the ancient Mediterranean prized cinnamon, but its supply was relatively limited because merchants had to ship it from Asia to Egyptian ports on the Red Sea.

Health-wise, interested individuals can come upon claims of cinnamon being good for this or that condition. Fortunately, there is a great deal of scientific interest in the matter. Thanks to that, Healthline can describe evidence-based benefits. One example would be cinnamon's antioxidants. Another example would be cinnamon's microbial properties. Put together, it seems reasonable to say that the spice does have genuinely beneficial effects on those who eat it.

Unfortunately, Cinnamon Toast Crunch isn't a healthy breakfast option. Even its marketing makes this clear. After all, it specifics the use of Cinnadust, which is a mix of cinnamon with sugar and other ingredients. Besides that, the wheat and rice squares contain a great deal of sugar in their own right.

3. Trix

As strange as it sounds, Trix is a variation of an earlier cereal. Initially, General Mills launched a breakfast cereal called Kix in 1937. That is a puffed cereal made out of cornmeal. Kix is sweet-tasting, but it is on the lower end of things by the standards of breakfast cereals. Trix came into existence in 1954 when General Mills decided to launch a sugar-coated version of Kix.

Naturally, it is very sweet, so much so that it is almost one-third sugar. The funny thing is that the modern version is reputedly a toned-down version because the original was almost half sugar. People who care about artificial dyes should also pay close attention to this breakfast cereal. There are two versions. One has six colors because it uses artificial dyes. The other has four colors because General Mills failed to find satisfactory natural dyes for the blue and green pieces.

2. Golden Crisp

Every breakfast cereal on this list is high in sugar. As a result, it takes something remarkable to stand out in that regard. Of course, that would be remarkable in a bad way as opposed to remarkable in a good way. Golden Crisp is infamous for being high in sugar because it is a puffed wheat-based product coated in candy. Many of the breakfast cereals on this list are more than a third sugar. Golden Crisp has the dubious distinction of being more than half sugar.

1. Honey Smacks

Advertising can be extremely misleading. That is why people should pay close attention to ingredient labels if they care about the exact contents of their meals. Honey Smacks is another great example of this issue. Once upon a time, it was called Sugar Smacks. That was a very appropriate name because the debut version was 55 percent sugar, meaning it was even sweeter than Golden Crisp at 51 percent sugar. Later, the Kellogg Company changed its name to Honey Smacks even though its sugar content remained the same. The company just did so because the new name made it sound better to the more health-conscious population of the 1980s.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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