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Are Your Kids Over-Fortified? Too Much of a Good Thing Puts Their Health at Risk

kids-overfortified

Millions of well-intentioned American parents, unbeknownst to them, are over-fortifying their kids with too many nutrients. That’s according to a report published earlier this year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

EWG, an American-based health and research organization, analyzed the nutrition facts labels for 1,550 breakfast cereals and found that 114 cereals were fortified by the manufacturer with 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value of vitamin A, zinc, and/or niacin. They also looked at 1,000 snack bars and found that 27 common brands were fortified with 50 percent or more of the Daily Value of at least one of those nutrients.

Among the most fortified cereals were:

  • General Mills’ Total line
  • Wheaties Fuel
  • Kellogg’s Product 19
  • Smart Start
  • All-Bran Complete
  • Cocoa Krispies
  • Krave

The most fortified snack bars included

  • Balance
  • Kind
  • Marathon

Food Awards: Best & Worst Breakfast Cereals

When foods are fortified, vitamins and minerals that aren’t originally in a food are added by the manufacturer. Classic examples include adding vitamin D to milk, iron to flour, fiber to cereal, and iodine to salt. Since 1998, folic acid has been added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour in an effort to reduce Spina Bifida and other serious birth defects. The idea of fortification was developed almost 100 years ago to treat common nutrition-deficiency diseases.
But it is possible to consume too many fortified foods, especially by children, because the Daily Values are set for the needs of adults not kids. Furthermore, the Daily Value standards were set in 1968 and so some are higher than levels currently deemed to be safe.
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You’re Not Crazy. The Cereal Box is Designed to Stare at You

Ever feel like your cereal box is staring at you? If you do, you’re not alone. New research from Cornell University Food and Brand Lab shows the somewhat creepy, blank stares of popular cereal mascots are designed to specifically to stare you down as you decide which brand to buy. They’re also probably part of the reason kids seem to be drawn to sugary, less healthful brands.

cereal

The study also found what most of us already know. In stores, cereals targeted at children tend to be on lower, easy-to-reach shelves. They’re also at an optimal height to be in kids’ lines of sight. Healthier “adult” cereals tend to be placed higher up and out of kids’ easy reach.


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4 Ways to Fit in Breakfast Even on Busy Mornings

By Team Best Life

We know how tough it can be to find the time for a healthy breakfast when you’re trying to get out the door in the morning. But a recent survey from the NPD Group, a market research company, suggests that people have found a solution: More and more Americans are opting for grab-and-go breakfasts.

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That’s a smart strategy since the benefits of breakfast have been well proven—people who start their day with a healthy meal are generally slimmer and healthier than those who skip it. Not only can a morning meal help keep your appetite in check, but it can also give you a boost of energy.

Check out the grab-and-go breakfast ideas below, all of which can help you power through your day:

  • Muffins. Make a batch of over the weekend, and enjoy them all week long. (Handy tip: You can freeze them and microwave them for just a few seconds to soften them up right before eating.) Pair with a skim latte and fruit for a balanced breakfast. We love these Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Don’t have time for homemade? It’s fine to go for store-bought—just look for one with 160 to 200 calories and at least 5 g fiber.
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Test Your Cereal Smarts to Buy a Better Breakfast

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

I’ll admit it—I’ve given unsolicited advice to total strangers in the cereal aisle, but only when they look truly bewildered. It’s my nutritionist’s instinct, what can I say? Believe it or not, choosing a healthy cereal is not as complicated as you might think, especially when you follow a few simple steps.


Start with the ingredient list. Check to make sure all grains are whole. Examples of whole grains: barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, triticale, whole rye, whole wheat, and anything else with “whole” in front of it. For more on what is and isn’t a whole grain, click here. I’d avoid sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame K, aspartame (Nutrasweet), and any other artificial sweetener—you don’t need these in a cereal.
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5-Minute Breakfast Ideas to Fuel Your Mornings in a Hurry

By Bob Greene for TheBestLife.com

I’m a big fan of breakfast—in fact, starting off each day with a healthy, balanced breakfast is one of the key guidelines on my Best Life plan. A morning meal jump-starts your metabolism, delivers some much-needed energy after a night’s rest and can help with weight loss.

Don’t think you have the time? Check out these five dishes, which you can throw together in five minutes or less.


Speedy Cereal

Be picky about what you pour into your bowl. Our guidelines: Opt for a cereal that has at least 4 grams of fiber, no more than 5 grams of sugar, and no more than 120 milligrams sodium per 100 calories. (Click here for a list of healthy cereal choices.) Top it off with fat-free or one-percent milk or calcium-enriched soy milk. To add more nutrients and flavor, top with some fresh fruit or a tablespoon or two of nuts. Or try this shortcut: Mix a few healthy cereals together, put them in a re-sealable plastic bag, and go.
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