are baby cereals full of sugar?

Jessica Penner, RDUncategorizedLeave a Comment

There is some concern out there from worrying parents that infant cereals are high in sugar.  The fear-mongering website of Joseph Mercola warns you:

“When you feed your baby a bowl of infant cereal, picture yourself dipping directly into your sugar bowl and feeding baby a spoon or two, because that’s essentially what it amounts to.”Joseph King-of-Misinformation Mercola

This same website then proceeds to recommend several alternatives, one of which is cooked carrots. So I decided to do some nutrition investigation and compare the two. I can’t resist a good nutrition investigation.

% of caloriesCooked CarrotsRice Infant Cereal prepared with Whole Milk
Carbs86.8%58%
Sugar40%20%
Fat4.6%28%
Protein8.7%14%
   
 *Nutrition information from Canadian Nutrient File Database

Carrots have 150% HIGHER percentage of calories from carbs than the prepared infant cereal. Carrots have 200% HIGHER percentage of calories from sugar than the prepared infant cereal. So, with this new information, allow me to rewrite the quote above:

“When you feed your baby a bowl of cooked carrots, picture yourself dipping directly into your sugar bowl and feeding baby several spoonfuls, because that’s essentially what it amounts to.”Jessica Worried-You'll-Take-This-Seriously Penner

Nobody thinks they’re feeding pure sugar to their kids when they give them carrots, because they aren’t. You have to look at the food as a whole: carrots also contain fibre, which helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar into the bloodstream and keeps a person feeling fuller for longer. 

Likewise with the infant cereal. You have to look at the food as a whole: breastmilk or infant formula is added when the cereals are prepared. These contain fat and protein, which also help to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and keep a person feeling fuller for longer. 

Where does the sugar come from?

A package of infant cereal contains NO SUGAR.  In the above comparison, the 20% of calories that come from sugar is from naturally occurring sugars in the added milk.   The cereal also contains starches that will break down into sugar, but so do cooked carrots.  In fact, carrots have more starch than infant cereal.  

no sugar in infant cereal

No, infant cereals are definitely not loaded with sugar.

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