Would you like some oatmeal with that sugar?

On a cold winter morning a bowl of oatmeal seems like a warm, filling and healthy breakfast. Oatmeal can be a healthy and quick whole grain cereal for a  snack or a meal on the go, but do you look beyond the grain itself to see what’s been added? The sugar in a single serving of oatmeal can exceed the upper limit of added sugar in our diet for a whole day. And the amount of sodium in a serving can be far more than you might guess…

Let’s look at several varieties of oatmeal that are available to cook at home or to take-out. Compare the sugar in the take-out varieties with the American Heart Associations recommendation of less than 22gm added sugar per day for women and less than 33gm added sugar per day for men. As you can see, plain oatmeal contains only whole grain and no sugar – whether you cook it at home or get it take-out without toppings. And who would have expected to get so much sodium in a breakfast cereal! So if time is a factor in the morning, why not make yourself a batch of steel cut oats and keep it in the refrigerator ready to just microwave when you need it. Steel cut oats, old fashioned oats and quick oats all have the same nutrient content but try to chose the least processed (e.g.steel cut, AKA pinhead oats) rather than the quick cook version. And if you must get your oatmeal away from home – choose a packet of plain instant oatmeal or skip the high cal toppings…

Oatmeal Svg Calories Protein Carbs Fiber Sugar Sodium
Dunkin BS/Frt 1 300 7 61 6 28 470
Dunkin Fruit 1 270 6 54 6 22 140
Starbucks 3 top’s 1 400 8 65 7 35 5
Kashi pkt 150 5 26 7 5 100
Wt Control Quaker pkt 160 7 29 6 1 290
Old Fash Oats 1 c. 150 5 27 4 0 0


  1. Kathi Palmer says:

    I like all this useful informaiton. I am stiill teaching a Health class and they want to go back to 3-D next term;-)

    1. Maggie Davis, MS, RD, LDN, FADA says:

      Hi Kathi, I’m glad you’re finding the website and newsletters useful!

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