How to read package labels, calculate sugar content
Seattle Times staff reporter
• Sugar can come in several forms, among them corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown-sugar syrup and simply sugar.
• Total sugars are shown in grams per serving, listed in the Nutrition Facts box.
• 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. This means the 15 grams of sugar in a serving of regular Froot Loops equals 3 ¾ teaspoons, while the 10 grams in a serving of the reduced-sugar version equals 2 ½ teaspoons.
• A teaspoon of sugar equals 15 calories. Thus 56 (nearly half) of the 120 calories in a serving of regular Froot Loops come from sugar, while 36 of the calories in a serving of the reduced-sugar version come from sugar (serving sizes vary, see below).
• The serving size listed on the box may not be the amount you actually eat. Often, people eat more.
• Serving sizes are not the same for all cereal products. For example, General Mills' Count Chocula lists 1 cup as a serving, while Kellogg's Cocoa Rice Krispies lists ¾ cup.
Even the full-sugar and reduced-sugar versions of Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes list different serving sizes — ¾ cup in the case of regular Frosted Flakes, but 1 cup for the reduced-sugar version — though these different serving sizes weigh the same: 31 grams.
All of which could dish up a surprise if you were expecting to cut calories along with sugar in the reduced-sugar cereals. If you eat same-weight servings of both the regular and reduced-sugar versions, you'll consume the same number of calories.
If you actually ate exactly the same volume (not weight) of both varieties of Froot Loops, the calorie counts would differ: 120 calories in a cup of the full-sugar version versus 96 calories in a cup of the reduced-sugar version.
• Sugar is only one of the nutrition features to consider when choosing a cereal. Others include fiber, fat and sodium levels and other nutrients listed on package labels.
Here are some per-serving sugar amounts in a number of cereals, in grams. These are from major companies, but also check out the products of smaller manufacturers.
Plain shredded wheat, any brand: 0
General Mills Cheerios: 1
Kellogg's Corn Flakes: 2
Kellogg's Rice Krispies: 3
General Mills Wheat Chex: 3
General Mills Wheaties: 4
Post Grape-Nuts: 5
Post Oreo O's: 11
General Mills Lucky Charms: 13
Kellogg's Cocoa Rice Krispies: 14
Kellogg's Apple Jacks: 15.
Post Raisin Bran: 19.7 (includes fruit sugars).
Sources: Product packages.
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