Cracklin’ Crack Down

An inquisitive reader wrote to ask about one of her favorite cereals, Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran:

“I’m concerned about my fiber intake and I have been eating Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran…is this a good source of fiber?” – Jamie from San Diego

Great question Jamie!

So, what about this Cracklin’ Oat Bran? Should you be eating it?

A quick glance at the Nutrition Facts panel says, Thumbs Down for Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran is one of those sneaky, tricky breakfast cereals that purports to be healthy:

  • It looks healthy (because it’s brown)
  • It sounds healthy (because it’s name says oat AND bran), and
  • Kellogg’s puts a lot of effort into making you think it’s healthy with their “Excellent Source of Fiber” and “Made with Whole Grain” banners splashed across the front of the box

Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran would be a great bet – if it weren’t for one thing: the sugar.

There are 15 grams of sugar in a measly 3/4-cup serving, in addition, sugar is prominent in this product, as it is the second ingredient (right after whole grain oats).

Ideally, a more accurate name for this cereal would be “Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran and Sugar” cereal. So, how much sugar is in this cereal?

Well, the food label as it is currently designed makes it hard to tell. “Sugars” include naturally occurring sugars (from fruit and milk), as well as added sugars. But the thing is, the food label doesn’t have to tell you how much of which is which.

Fortunately, in Cracklin’ Oat Bran, there are no milk sugars and no fruit sugars. So, you can assume that the 15 grams of sugar are all from sucrose, added table sugar.

One gram of carbohydrate (sugar) has 4 calories, so the 14 grams per 3/4 cup serving give 56 calories from sugar (almost 4 teaspoons worth). This works out to 28% of the calories in Cracklin’ Oat Bran coming from sugar.

Now I don’t know about you, but if a food I’m eating has 28% of the calories coming from sugar, I’m hoping its dessert – and not a breakfast cereal. A good rule of thumb is to choose cereals that have as little sugar as possible, or at least <20% of calories from sugar.

A better bet is to look for cereals that say, “5 g” or less in the “Sugars” spot on the label and “3 g” or more in “Dietary fiber”.

(Now granted, Cracklin’ Oat Bran does have 7 g fiber per serving – but if you have to add 15 g sugar to make 7 g fiber taste good, that’s not worth it).

Some better bets for breakfast cereals that meet the 3 g+ for fiber and < 5 g for sugar are:

  • Cheerios (Original in the yellow box, not Honey Nuts!) – 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar
  • Barbara’s Bakery Puffins, Original – 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar
  • Barbara’s Organic Honest O’s Original Cereal – 4 g fiber, <1 g sugar
  • Post Shredded Wheat, Original – 8 g fiber, 0 g sugar
  • Post Shredded Wheat Big Biscuit – 8 g fiber, 0 g sugar
  • Post Shredded Wheat, Wheat ‘N Bran – 8 g fiber, 0 g sugar

Thanks for your great question Jamie and keep them coming!