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What Are We Really Eating?

Have you have taken a close look at the ingredient label on your favorite foods, like crackers, chips, cereals or cookies?   More and more foods that Americans are eating today are processed and have a laundry list of ingredients.  You need a dictionary for many of the ingredients to know how to even pronounce them.  Take a look at the following ingredient list and see if you can determine what popular breakfast product it represents.

Ingredients: Rice, wheat gluten, sugar, defatted wheat germ, salt, high fructose corn syrup, dried whey, malt flavoring, Calcium Caseinate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Reduced Iron, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B12), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12.

Wow!!  That is a long list of ingredients!  So, have you guessed the food yet? Well, it is the popular breakfast cereal—Special K!  You likely did not realize just how many ingredients this cereal contained, right?   As you can see, many of the ingredients are vitamins that are added to the product to enrich it and make it appear healthier.  Sweeteners are added to make it more appealing to those that crave the sweet in the morning.  However, this popular cereal is processed and far removed from the natural grain source—rice.

What may be a healthier, less processed choice for breakfast?  Well, I will refer you back to checking the label.  Try to find a cereal with the least number of ingredients, sodium, added sugar and preferably one that is whole grain as most Americans do not consume enough fiber each day.  Here are some suggestions:

If it a cold cereal that you desire to start your day, check out original shredded wheat, which only contains 100% whole grain wheat.  Cheerios’ first ingredient is whole grain oats, is low in sodium and only has 1 gram of added sugar. On those cold mornings, try some oatmeal.   The rolled oats (a.k.a. old fashioned oats) and quick oats only contain one ingredient- whole oats.  Still want a bit of sweet in the morning?  Try topping your cereal with fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas) and drizzling it with a bit of honey.

The overall objective is to be observant to what we are putting into our bodies.  Aim to purchase foods that are either in their natural form, like fruits, vegetables, or closest to their natural forms as possible, meaning they are minimally processed.  Take a few extra moments at the grocery store to read the ingredient lists before you decide to purchase it.   Your body and health will thank you for it in the long run.

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