Friday, February 18, 2011

Corn Dust Woman

Taste the milky rainbow- if you dare.

I never ate sugar cereal growing up. Never. Sugar cereal to me was Shredded Wheat and Bran with a banana sliced into it. Or, on really lucky days (like when we were on holidays) I might be allowed Rice Crispies. I didn't mind, sure.. I guess I would sometimes whine about wanting to count my Lucky Charms or battle the soggies with Captain Crunch but really, that never happened so I went all through my life until recently never really having sugar cereal. Even now, I can stand the sweet off color of the left over milk at the end of a bowl. *shudders

As I've gotten older and more aware of healthy eating and nutritional information I often joke that many “kids’ cereals” (an euphemism for neon-colored sugar puffs) are the nutritional equivalent of candy and a multivitamin. A really bad multivitamin (don't get me started on how I feel about multivitamins) like those chewable ones for kids.

Here are the facts...

Let’s begin with Trix, which somehow managed to dethrone carrots and lettuce as the official food of the bunny community

A 1-cup, 30 gram (just slightly over 1 ounce) serving provides:
  • 120 calories
  • 1.5 grams fat
  • 180 milligrams sodium
  • 10 grams sugar (2.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 1 gram protein
Here is what an ounce of Twizzlers (mmmmm...) provides:
  • 95 calories
  • 0.6 grams fat
  • 74 milligrams sodium
  • 0 grams fiber
  • 13.25 grams sugar (3.25 teaspoons)
  • 0.6 grams protein
Pretty close to Trix!  Just a tiny bit more sugar and a smidgen less of protein.  The missing gram of fiber is barely noticed and, hey, look at that — half the sodium and a third of the calories!

Let’s now look at the fortified nutrients in Trix.  The following vitamins and minerals are supplemented (listed with their respective contributions, expressed as a percentage, to the Daily Value):
Vitamin A (10%), Vitamin C (10%), Calcium (10%), Iron (25%), Vitamin D (10%), Thiamin (25%), Riboflavin (25%), Niacin (25%), Vitamin B6 (25%), Folic Acid (25%), Vitamin B12 (25%), Zinc (25%)
Let’s now analyze Fred Flintstone’s contribution to the candy breakfast.  That chewable vitamin provides the following vitamins and minerals (again, listed with their respective percentage of the Daily Value)

Vitamin A (60%), Vitamin C (100%), Vitamin D (100%), Vitamin E (100%), Thiamin (100%), Riboflavin (100%), Niacin (75%), Vitamin B6 (100%), Folic Acid (100%), Vitamin B12 (100%), Biotin (13%), Pantothenic Acid (100%), Calcium (10%), Iron (100%), Phosphorus (10%), Iodine (100%), Magnesium (5%), Zinc (80%), Copper (100%)
Oh, snap!  Fred Flintstone’s  vitamins deliver higher amounts of nutrients — and a wider variety — than what Trix offers.

And, now, for our final comparison — ingredient lists.  First up, Trix:
Whole grain corn, sugar, corn meal, corn syrup, carnola/rice bran oil, salt, trisodium phosphate, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Other Color Added, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Malic Acid
Fred Flintstone’s multivitamin is, of course, composed of vitamins and minerals.  However, it shares a few common ingredients with Trix, mainly the presence of three artificial dyes — Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 2.

Multivitamins are not the same as food because foods contain healthful compounds like phytonutrients and antioxidants. That's why a multivitamin can not even dream of matching the nutritional contributions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds to a diet.  But, we’re talking about sugar cereal here.  Yes, there is some whole grain corn, but a) it’s undergone a bit of processing, and b) you’re talking about roughly a half-ounce of it.

The takeaway message here is not “Twizzlers and a multivitamin are a nutritious breakfast”, but rather “Trix is basically fortified candy with a sprinkling of corn dust.”

This is why

Trix = Twizzlers (or Fruit Twisty Ropes if you wish to use the generic name) + Flinstone Vitamin + magical Corn Dust.

Now isn't that just all kinds of gross? I write this ALL after having a slice of birthday cake for breakfast. Mmm mmm good.

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