Many people believe that eating cereal makes them healthy. However, recently, cereals are getting under fire for sneaking unhealthy ingredients to make them taste better. Cheerios is one of America’s most popular cereals, and the honey nut flavor is well-loved. Are honey nut Cheerios healthy?
Honey Nut Cheerios may not be healthy. This is because it contains nine times as much sugar as regular Cheerios. Cheerios even have to lessen the sugar shown on the nutritional information by lowering the serving size to ¾ cup. Honey Nut Cheerios uses sugar, brown sugar, honey, and artificial sweeteners.
This article discusses Honey Nut Cheerios and if they are healthy for you. We also look at what are the ingredients inside Honey Nut Cheerios, as well as looking at the healthiest Cheerios flavor you can eat.
What Are Cheerios?
Cheerios is an oat-based cereal meal made by General Mills in the United States. It first came out in the market in 1941 and is now offered in 19 flavors.
Cheerios is a brand of oat cereal meal made by General Mills in the United States. It is made by pulverizing oats and then reforming them into a solid torus or a doughnut shape. Outside of the US, Cheerios are marketed by Nestle foods and are available in many countries worldwide.
Cheerios first came out in the market on May 2, 1941, as Cherioats, before renaming itself into Cheerios in 1945. This is because Quaker Oats claimed that only it has the right to use the word ‘Oats.’
Cheerios were offered in only regular flavors for decades before the first flavor variation of Cheerios was first made. The Cinnamon Nut Cheerios first debuted in 1976. Several years later, the second flavor of Honey Nut Cheerios debuted in 1979.
Today, Cheerios are offered in about 19 flavors in the US. These include:
Of these flavors, the best-selling Cheerios flavor is the Honey Nut. In fact, it is the best-selling cereal in the United States, with sales of over $483.1 million in 2019. It beats several popular kinds of cereal such as Frosted Flakes, Special K, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
What Are The Ingredients Inside Honey Nut Cheerios?
Honey Nut Cheerios contain oats, sugars, some oil, salt, and nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are also added during processing to improve their health benefits.
Suppose you take a look at the ingredient list in Honey Nut Cheerios. In that case, you will see that Honey Nut Cheerios are made of oats, sweeteners, some oil, salt, and additives. Some nutrients, such as vitamins, are added to the cereal to make it healthier and more nutritional.
Whole Grain Oats
Since Cheerios are crushed oat cereal, they should be made of oats. The good thing is that Cheerios uses whole-grain oats, which explains the brownish-white coloration of Cheerios.
Using whole-grain oats also means the oats are more natural and should provide a lower GI value. A Lower GI value means slower sugar release, avoiding sugar spikes.
Honey Nut Cheerios uses sugar for some flavoring. There is no mention of the type of sugar used, but white sugar (sucrose) would be likely. If they are used in moderation, white sugars are a good energy source.
Honey Nut Cheerios likely contain corn starch for many reasons. It may help it thicken better when mixed with milk or help the cereal retain moisture better.
Corn starches may help to stabilize the ingredients inside the cereal, as well as to replace fats.
Some cereal makers also add cornstarch to increase the crunchiness of their cereals. This may also be the reason why Honey Nut Cheerios have corn starch.
Honey Nut Cheerios should contain honey. However, in the ingredient list, honey comes second in the list of sweeteners, behind sugar. This means most of the sweet taste you get from Honey Nut Cheerios is likely from sugar, not honey.
Brown Sugar Syrup
Another sweetener added to Honey Nut Cheerios is brown sugar syrup. Brown sugar syrup may provide coloring to the cereals, together with honey. It also adds an additional dimension of sweetness to the cereal.
Honey Nut Cheerios likely contain some salt for two reasons, texture and a bit of saltiness. The taste may be less interesting when the cereal is nothing but sweetness. Adding a bit of saltiness introduces a new dimension of flavor.
Tripotassium Phosphate is a powerful cleaning agent, added into many cleaning products such as floor cleaners. Its presence in Honey Nut Cheerios is, naturally, a little suspect.
Some cereals do contain Tripotassium Phosphate. It is usually added in very small amounts to balance the acidity of the cereal during its making process.
Most cereals contain a little bit of oil, perhaps to help add a bit of glow to the cereal and also to improve the taste profile of the cereal. Aside from those, canola oil is likely used due to its low saturated fat content of 7%. This means canola oil is actually good for your health.
Natural Almond Flavor
Honey Nut Cheerios should contain some nuts. Surprisingly, no nuts are added, only the natural almond flavor. The odd fact is that Honey Nut Cheerios used to have nuts in them until 2006.
This may be to save cost, as some ‘Natural Almond Flavor’ likely come from the pits of peaches and apricots, which are waste product. Using these as a flavoring for almond flavor may help Honey Nut Cheerios to be safer for those allergic to almonds.
Calcium carbonate is likely added as a way to fortify the cereal with additional calcium; this helps with the growth and regeneration of teeth and bones. It also helps with regulating heartbeat and muscle contractions.
This ingredient is likely added to Honey Nut Cheerios to fortify it with Vitamin C.
Sodium ascorbate is more stable, allowing the vitamin to survive in the food. Our body will then break it down into vitamin C to be absorbed by the system.
You may like this article: Are Nutri-Grain Bars Healthy?
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy?
Honey Nut Cheerios are healthy in several ways. The full-grain oats may help with lowering blood cholesterol and protecting the heart. It also does not contain trans fat and is fortified with many vitamins and minerals important for our general health.
There are reasons why Cheerios are allowed to market that their cereals are healthy because they are in some ways. Honey Nut Cheerios has soluble fiber, which makes them good for the heart. It also does not contain trans fat and is fortified with a good array of vitamins and minerals.
You can claim that Honey Nut Cheerios are healthy because they may be good for your waistline. This can be observed from a lower amount of calories.
A cup of Honey Nut Cheerios contains around 140 calories, which is quite low. You may be able to eat two cups of Honey Nut Cheerios in the morning and have enough calorie space to spare for the day.
However, Honey Nut Cheerios are rarely eaten on their own. You may mix it with milk, fruits, and other things. This means the total caloric count may be higher. When possible, use lower-calorie foodstuff such as skim or almond milk instead.
High In Soluble Fiber
Honey Nut Cheerios are made of full-grain oats. Oats are known as an excellent source of fiber. There are two major variants of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber.
Oats have both types of fiber. But its total count of soluble fiber is usually higher than other grains. The best thing about soluble fiber is that it functions like a sponge, absorbing many low-density lipoproteins in the blood. This usually results in a lower cholesterol count in the blood.
Lower cholesterol count in the blood will be helpful to the heart since the blood vessels are not narrowed up from plaque buildup. Blood can flow smoothly, not placing too much pressure on the heart.
Zero Trans Fat
Honey Nut Cheerios also are free of trans fat. Trans fat is a no-no in many food items today. This is because trans fat is known to cause heart attacks and also increase the risk of type-2 diabetes.
In fact, the US FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has mandated that beginning in 2015, all processed food should no longer contain trans fat. Many non-processed food makers also voluntarily remove any trans fat from their food to make their food healthier.
Good Array Of Vitamins And Minerals
One good thing about Honey Nut Cheerios is its wide array of vitamins and minerals. Some nutrients come naturally from the oats inside Cheerios, while some are added to the food during processing.
|Nutrient||% of USFDA Daily Recommended Value|
Phosphorus helps to maintain the health of bones and teeth. It also helps our body to burn fat and carbohydrates better for energy, as well as helps our body to regenerate and repair cells and tissues.
Magnesium is needed for over 300 functions in our body. One of the major functions of magnesium is to generate energy for the cells. People with healthy magnesium intake also tend to have higher bone density.
Zinc is probably one of the most important minerals to assist in your body’s immune system. That is why you always see your Vitamin C pills are sold with Zinc added in. Zinc is also crucial for your metabolism function.
Iron’s most important function in our body is to help make blood. Iron also helps to create myoglobin, which helps to deliver oxygen to muscles.
Potassium helps your muscle contraction. Lack of potassium may result in muscle cramps. Potassium also helps with maintaining your nervous system’s health.
Vitamin A helps to form and maintain your teeth and bones. It also helps with your soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin health.
Vitamin B6 helps with the central nervous system as well as your metabolism. It also helps to create neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which may help your mood.
Vitamin B12 helps your body to keep a healthy amount of blood and maintain nerve cells well. It also helps to make DNA, the main genetic material in all of your cells.
Vitamin D can help your body absorb and keep calcium and phosphorus, which helps you to strengthen bones and teeth; this can also help control infections and reduce inflammation in the body.
Are Honey Nut Cheerios Bad For Health?
Honey Nut Cheerios can be bad for health in several ways. First, it has a very high sugar content, carbohydrate, and GI number. Honey Nut Cheerios are also low in protein.
Despite its public image of being a healthy cereal breakfast, Cheerios can be rather unhealthy in some ways. Many have criticized its high sugar content and its high Gi number. It also does not seem to have enough protein while high in carbohydrates.
High Sugar Content
One of Honey Nut Cheerios’ biggest concerns is its high sugar content. A serving of Honey Nut Cheerios contains 12 grams of sugar, which is already 24% of the daily value.
This means if you have two cups of Honey Nut Cheerios alone, you would have used up almost half of your daily sugar quota. This does not include if you add milk or fruits to your cereal.
This could be explained by looking at the ingredients list of the Honey Nut Cheerios. It contains three types of sugars, which are within the top six most added ingredients into the cereal.
High sugar consumption can lead to many health problems, such as uncontrolled weight gain, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.
High GI Number
GI stands for the Glycemic Index, a system of numbers to indicate how fast a food is being turned into sugars for our blood. The lower the GI number, the better the food is for health.
This is because the food will be digested slowly, releasing sugar into our blood systems slower, avoiding sugar spikes and crashes. High GI food also keeps our stomach fuller and longer. Less processed food tends to have lower GI value, as the body needs to spend more time digesting it than processed food.
Breakfast cereals such as Honey Nut Cheerios are highly processed food, which means they will have a high GI number. In fact, it has a GI number of 74, which is quite high.
If you eat Honey Nut Cheerios, your body will digest them quickly, which means a large amount of sugar will enter the body. This causes a sugar spike, which will then be followed by a crash.
You may feel very tired and sleepy during a sugar crash. You may also get hungry faster, which means you may overeat your daily calorie intake.
High Carbohydrate Counts
Honey Nut Cheerios are also unhealthy as they contain a high carbohydrate count. Despite having a low-calorie count, the high carbohydrate count may also contribute to your body digesting much faster, resulting in a sugar spike and then a crash.
Honey Nut Cheerios having high carbohydrate counts likely also explains why it has a high GI count. This means you may get hungry faster after eating it, which will cause you to eat more and gain weight.
Low Protein Counts
Another issue with Honey Nut Cheerios is the lower protein count. An adult on a 2,000-calorie diet may need around 0.36 grams of protein per pound in body weight, which is something Cheetos may need help to provide.
If you take Cheerios in the morning, you will need to find some protein later in the day and eat a higher portion to fill your daily needs. This may be even more acute if you work out.
Is Honey Nut The Healthiest Cheerios Flavor?
Despite being the best-selling, Honey Nut Cheerios is not the healthiest Cheerios flavor. The regular Cheerios flavor is the healthiest Cheerios, as it has the least sugar and additional ingredients.
|Nutrient||Cheerios Honey Nut||Plain Cheerios|
|Fat||2 g||2.5 g|
|Cholesterol||0 g||0 g|
|Sodium||210 mg||190 mg|
|Carbs||30 g||29 g|
|Fiber||3 g||4 g|
|Soluble Fiber||<1 g||1 g|
|Added Sugar||12 g||2 g|
|Protein||3 g||5 g|
Honey Nut Cheerios may be the best-selling Cheerios flavor. However, it is also unhealthy since it is so laden with sugar. In fact, a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios has up to 6 times more sugar than regular Cheerios.
Plain Cheerios also contain more protein and fiber per serving than Honey Nut Cheerios. This makes plain Cheerios much healthier than Honey Nut Cheerios. In fact, it is also the healthiest Cheerios you can enjoy.
This is because other flavors for Cheerios also require Cheerios to add flavorings, fruits, or ingredients. General Mills may need to add additional sugars to balance the flavor, making these flavored Cheerios less healthy.
Are There Healthier Alternatives To Honey Nut Cheerios?
There are healthier alternatives to Honey Nut Cheerios, such as oats, healthier cereals, or even a bowl of plain Cheerios. These alternatives provide better nutrients, a more balanced macronutrient, and lower GI value.
Suppose you are a fan of Honey Nut Cheerios, discovered that it is rather unhealthy, and wants to change. In this case, some options are less drastic for you, which means you are more likely to enjoy eating them and not miss your Honey Nut Cheerios too much.
As a start, you may enjoy eating Cheerios because you like the taste of oats. In this case, why not eat the most natural, and least processed version of it instead?
Raw oats usually have double the fiber, as well as a much higher protein count per cup, when compared to Honey Nut Cheerios. This means you will get a better breakfast out of it. It also has a much lower GI number, meaning you will feel fuller longer and not overeat once you eat it.
Mix them with hot water for maximum effect and eat them as is. Feel free to throw in some skim milk, bananas, berries, or raisins for a touch of sweetness and other additional nutrients.
If you find the texture of rolled oats a little harder to eat in the morning, you can opt for a slightly more processed version, steel-cut oats. These may have higher GI value but may be nicer and softer to eat.
If you want to keep the convenience of eating cereal from the box, yet want to get healthier, you can try healthier cereal alternatives instead. Some healthier cereals, such as Special K or Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets, may work well as a start. They are crunchy, hearty cereals that should fill you up well.
You can also consider Barbara’s Shredded Wheat and Nature’s path Organics Superfood. These are rich in fiber and pack more protein than Honey Nut Cheerios. This means they are better, healthier alternatives for you.
Finally, suppose you are so in love with Cheerios you cannot live without it. This means you are limited in your options for cereals. In this case, your best choice would be to switch to regular, plain Cheerios.
This is a good idea because you get to retain the texture, shape, and look of your cereals. The only thing missing is the sweetness from the Honey Nut Cheerios. As a start, you can add some natural honey to your cereal for some sweetness and then gradually lessen it.
This helps your taste buds to adjust to having less sugar. This may take weeks, but your body and waistline will thank you for it if you stick it through!