UPDATES: My readers have suggested two low-salt alternatives to Cheerios and, since this post went up, General Mills has responded to the salt issue.
The Globe and Mail has been running an interesting series the last few days on how the amount of salt in our diets is putting our health at risk.The series’ premise is pretty simple: the fast food and packaged foods we eat are loaded with sodium. In many people, sodium causes high blood pressure (hypertension) — which can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
There’s lots of interesting information in the series, but as a parent of a young child, one fact stood out for me more than all the others: the high salt content of Cheerios cereal.
Like many parents, we fed our kid Cheerios as a snack from a very young age.
It seemed like the perfect baby food: low in sugar and fat and easily dissolvable so it posed little choking hazard. But it turns out that Cheerios are remarkably high in salt.
Just one cup of regular Cheerios contains 230 milligrams of salt, which is almost a quarter of the recommended intake of salt for a 1-3 year old (1,000 mg). And, as the Globe article screamed in pull-quote type on Saturday, is more sodium than 31 Miss Vickie’s original-flavour chips.
Indeed, blogger Charles Hugh Smith compared the nutritional contents of various cold cereals and found Cheerios was one of the saltiest. In comparison, Frosted Mini Wheats had just 5 mg of salt per serving.
However, I don’t see parents feeding their toothless infants rock-hard mini wheats anytime soon.
And that’s part of the problem. It’s hard to know what a good alternative to Cheerios would be. In my research, I was unable to find an example of a cereal similar in shape and size to Cheerios that didn’t have so much salt in it — or which didn’t have other bad things in it (like lots of sugar and fat) that you wouldn’t want to give a baby. And while Cheerios are high in salt, some argue they are still a relatively healthy food choice. (UPDATE: My readers did a better job than I did of sourcing low-salt Cheerios alternatives.)
Indeed, as this article on salt from ABC News explains, there is a debate within the medical community about what governments should do about the high sodium content in food. While some argue it is a serious issue, others say the risks of salt are being overblown and pale in comparison to the much larger problem of obesity (which is linked more directly to sugar and fat).
Ironically, it appears that the increasing sodium in our diet is at least partly the blame of our society being so concerned with obesity. Consumers have been demanding food that’s low in fat and sugar. And, in order to deliver, manufacturers have had to find flavour somewhere else — and that often means more salt.
I emailed General Mills, which makes Cheerios, to ask them if they are taking any steps to reduce the salt content of their cereal — and if they thought it was a suitable snack for infants and toddlers. I have yet to hear anything back, but will post a follow-up if and when I do.
If you’re concerned about your own salt intake, check out this Health Canada guide on reducing your sodium consumption. And The Globe series has a neat online calculator that lets you see how much salt is in different types of common food products. Interestingly, as this Statistics Canada report reveals, salt consumption is particularly high in Quebec and B.C.
What about you? Do you pay as much attention to the salt content of your, and your children’s, food as you do other things like sugar and fat? Post a comment and let me know.
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- Are Cheerios Really a Healthy Choice?
- “Are Cheerios Really a Healthy Choice?”
- Are Cheerios Made with Wholesome Grains and Oats?
- Are Cheerios Low in Sugar?
- Do Cheerios Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease and High Cholesterol?
- What about the other ingredients in Cheerios that are not bolded because of a high risk of being GMOs?
- Do Cheerios Contain GMOs?
- What Can We Do?
- Low Salt Low Fat Eating
- Grapes Nutrition: Amazing Nutritional Facts About Grapes And Health Benefits
- Grapes Nutrition: Health Benefits Of Grapes
- Grapes Nutrition Facts: Key Vitamins, Nutrients and Minerals of the Fruit
- Guide to Low-Sodium Foods for the Kidney Diet
- Tips for a low-sodium kidney diet
- Low-sodium, kidney-friendly fruits and vegetables
- Low-sodium, kidney-friendly meats, poultry, seafood and dairy
- Low-sodium, kidney-friendly pasta, rice and grains
- Kidney-friendly, low-sodium condiments, seasonings and sauces
- Kidney-friendly recipes low in sodium
- The importance of a low-sodium guide for the kidney diet
- Please make more of your cereals low in salt; I am on a very restricted diet that has to be low in sodium.
- Guidelines for a Low Sodium Diet
- General Guidelines for Cutting Down on Salt
- Meats, Poultry, Fish, Legumes, Eggs and Nuts
- Dairy Products
- Breads, Grains and Cereals
- Vegetables and Fruits
- Fats, Desserts and Sweets
Are Cheerios Really a Healthy Choice?
“Are Cheerios Really a Healthy Choice?”
Cheerios are an iconic breakfast cereal eaten by millions of American’s every day, owned by staunch GMO enthusiast General Mills. These millions of Americans have been told by General Mills that Cheerios are a healthy breakfast and snack item that brings the benefits of wholesome oats, low sugar, and essential vitamins and minerals into their diets.
While GMO Inside recognizes that whole grains like oats, moderation of sugar, and balanced consumption of vitamins and minerals are certainly part of a healthy eating plan, a deeper look at Cheerios uncovers that their claimed benefits are also accompanied by a high risk of GMOs, surprisingly controversial ingredients, and a less than stellar overall nutritional profile.
Taking a careful look at Cheerios, GMO Inside would like to help consumers answer the question; Are Cheerios really a healthy choice?
Let us start by breaking down the ingredients for the entire Cheerios line. GMO Inside has bolded the likely GMO ingredients in each variety below.
Cheerios: Whole Grain Oats (includes the oat bran), Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Wheat Starch, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.
Honey Nut Cheerios: Whole Grain Oats (includes the oat bran), Modified Corn Starch, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Natural Almond Flavor, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.
Multi Grain Cheerios: Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Barley, Whole Grain Rice, Corn Starch, Brown Sugar Syrup, Corn Bran, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Color Added, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Meal, Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Apple Puree Concentrate, Salt, Cinnamon, Trisodium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Vanillin, Wheat Starch, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.
Chocolate Cheerios: Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Whole Grain Oats, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Salt, Color Added, Dried Corn Syrup, Corn Bran, Barley Malt Extract, Trisodium Phosphate, Vanillin. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.
Dulche de Leche Cheerios: Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Whole Grain Oats, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Corn Syrup, Caramel Syrup (caramelized sugar, water), Salt, Brown Sugar Syrup, Corn Bran, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Natural Flavor, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.
Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter: Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Peanut Butter (peanuts, monoglycerides), Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Barley, Whole Grain Rice, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Salt, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Peanut Oil, Color Added, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.
Cinnamon Burst Cheerios: Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Corn Bran, Corn Meal, Soluble Corn Fiber, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Whole Grain Oats, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Cinnamon, Guar Gum, Natural Flavor, Color Added, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.
Frosted Cheerios: Whole Grain Oats (includes the oat bran), Sugar, Corn Meal, Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Brown Sugar Syrup, Vanillin, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshnees.
Fruity Cheerios: Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Whole Grain Oats, Corn Syrup, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Pear Puree Concentrate, Salt, Corn Starch, Dried Corn Syrup, Corn Bran, Trisodium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Color (red 40, yellow 6, blue 1, and other color added), Sodium Citrate, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) BHT and Ascorbic Acid Added to Preserve Freshness.
Yogurt Burst Cheerios: Whole Grain Oats (includes the oat bran), Sugar, Naturally Yogurt Flavored Coating (sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, dextrose, corn starch, dried strawberries, dried nonfat yogurt (cultured nonfat milk), color added, soy lecithin, nonfat milk, natural flavor, maltodextrin), Corn Meal, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Brown Sugar Syrup, Color Added, Wheat Flour, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.
Banana Nut Cheerios: Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Whole Grain Oats, Brown Sugar Syrup, Corn Syrup, Canola and/or Rice Bran Oil, Salt, Dried Corn Syrup, Banana Puree, Corn Bran, Corn Starch, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Sodium Citrate, Natural Flavor, Natural Almond Flavor, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.
Once again, all of the Bolded ingredients above are likely GMOs.
Currently on the Cheerios website, General Mills claims their Cheerios varieties are a part of a healthy diet because they are low in saturated fat, naturally cholesterol free, can help lower cholesterol, are made with whole grains like oats, and provide essential vitamins and minerals.
Over the years public perception has been shaped by these and similar claims so that Cheerios cereals have become widely considered to be a healthy choice that is low in sugar, unprocessed, and made with natural ingredients.
But what is true, and what is fiction? Let’s break it down.
Are Cheerios Made with Wholesome Grains and Oats?
Originally called “Cheerioats”, the Cheerios name was selected so the cereal would be associated with the taste and wholesome appeal of oats. One of the main nutrition angles that General Mills exploits is the use of natural oats in Cheerios, however, in seven out of the twelve Cheerios varieties currently sold in the U.S. marketplace, oats are not even listed as the first ingredient (remember, ingredients are listed in order of abundance by weight within a product).
All Cheerios cereal varieties are made with whole grains and do have at least 8 grams per serving, but whole grains ground into flour, do not have the same health benefits as unprocessed whole grains. On the Cheerios website they say that their process is simply mixing, cooking, forming, and toasting. While that sounds nice, the final product – uniform and indistinguishable O’s – bears little resemblance to whole oats or any other whole grains. Cheerios are indeed made with whole grains, but “processed whole grains” would be a more appropriate listing.
Are Cheerios Low in Sugar?
In terms of Sugar – Only Regular Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios, and Dulche De Leche Cheerios have less than 9 grams of sugar per serving. The nine other Cheerios varieties have a sugar content that is much too high to be considered low or healthy when compared to other accessible breakfast cereal options. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day, and no more than 38 grams for men. The average amount of sugar per serving (1 or ¾ Cups depending on variety) across all varieties of Cheerios is 7.92 grams per cup or quarter cup.
According to the nutritional information on the Cheerios website, the serving sizes are not consistent across the whole Cheerios line. The serving size is 1 cup for both regular Cheerios, which has 1 gram of sugar serving, and for Multi Grain Cheerios, which has 6 grams of sugar per serving.
Conversely, the more sugary varieties of Cheerios: Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Banana Nut Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter, Fruity Cheerios, and Yogurt Burst Cheerios – have a smaller serving size of ¾ Cup. This is not something that Cheerios advertises as broadly as the other aspects of its cereals, probably because it would draw attention to the fact that even though you are supposed to be eating less of these Cheerios varieties, you are still getting more sugar. Since this is not as widely publicized, then there are almost certainly consumers who are unaware of these different serving sizes and are starting their days off with an even higher amount of unexpected sugar.
Do Cheerios Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease and High Cholesterol?
Cheerios are infamous for their heart healthy claims and for being low in saturated fat and cholesterol. The brand in the past pushed these claims so heavily that in 2009 the FDA had to send a letter asking General Mills to alter Cheerios marketing strategies because of “unauthorized health claims” and because said claims would mean that Cheerios would fall under the label of an “unapproved new drug”. Cheerios has since reworked their marketing and health claims into the message that Cheerios CAN be a part of a healthy diet that COULD reduce the risks of heart disease.
It is important to note that part of what allows Cheerios to claim that it can be part of a diet that could reduce the risk of heart disease is the cereals’ fiber and whole grain content. We already covered the whole grain aspects of Cheerios, and when looking at fiber it appears that ONLY Regular Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Yogurt Burst Cheerios contain soluble fiber, with Cheerios having just 1 gram per serving, Honey Nut Cheerios having 0.75 gram per serving, and Yogurt Burst Cheerios with “less than 1 gram of soluble fiber”.
Concerning insoluble fiber, listed on the boxes as dietary fiber – Only Regular Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter, and Cinnamon Burst have over 2 grams of Dietary Fiber. The remaining 8 out of the 12 varieties are only at an inadequate 2 grams per serving.
The bottom line for this is that if you are eating cereal for breakfast and we were only paying attention to fiber numbers, then regular Cheerios is the only variety of Cheerios that would provide an adequate amount of fiber to start your day in a healthy way.
What about the other ingredients in Cheerios that are not bolded because of a high risk of being GMOs?
BHT is Butylated Hydroxytoluene a food additive used to preserve freshness in some products, but in scientific studies it has been shown to be possible carcinogen. As shown above, BHT is used in Chocolate Cheerios, Dulche De Leche Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Burst Cheerios, Fruity Cheerios, and Banana Nut Cheerios.
Other ingredients used in some or all of the Cheerios varieties that have raised red flags for health conscious consumers include: Trisodium Phosphate, Artificial Colors, Natural Flavors, Vanillin (synthetic Vanilla), Corn Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Maltodextrin, and Glycerides. Each of these ingredients have been possibly linked to negative health impacts by studies in recent years and many health conscious consumers have put these ingredients on their do-not-eat lists.
Do Cheerios Contain GMOs?
The most common GMO crops to look out for in the U.S. are Soy, Corn, Cotton, Canola, Sugar Beets, and Papaya. Foods that clearly have these words in their ingredient lists are all at risk of being GMO if they are not certified organic or Non-GMO.
General Mills sources its corn from the United States, where 88% of the crop is genetically modified, and our ingredient breakdown showed that corn-based ingredients are a common ingredient in all Cheerios varieties. While the corn ingredients are easy to spot and flag, some other high GMO risk ingredients that have been bolded are a little more inconspicuous. For example, Vitamin E is in each and every one of the Cheerios products, and is a hidden GMO ingredient that many consumers are unaware of. Vitamin E in Cheerios comes from Mixed Tocopherols which are most commonly derived from soy, corn, or cotton –the most extensively genetically engineered crops. For a list of other GMO ingredients that are commonly hidden in processes foods, Non-GMO Shopping Guide has built this highly useful list.
As a refresher, If you were to sample each and every Cheerios product –since General Mills does not make organic Cheerios or allow GMO testing – the following are the likely GMOs you would be consuming: Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Canola Oil, Natural Almond Flavor, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Starch, Corn Bran, Corn Syrup, Dried Corn Syrup, Caramel Syrup made from Caramelized Sugar, Natual Flavors, Peanut Butter made with Monoglycerides, Dextrose, Corn Meal, Soluble Corn Fiber, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Maltodextrin.
Multi Grain Cheerios are the only Cheerios variety that has just one likely GMO ingredient in its first three ingredients listed. The likely GMO ingredient however is its first-listed and most abundant ingredient: Whole Grain Corn. This Whole Grain Corn is almost certainly genetically modified.
Besides Multi Grain Cheerios, the ingredients list for every single other variety of Cheerios starts with at least two out of its most abundant ingredients as likely GMOs. Taking this a step further – each of the first three ingredients for both Chocolate and Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter are likely GMOs, and all of the first six ingredients in Cinnamon Burst Cheerios are very likely to be made from GMOs.
Cheerios of all types are loaded with likely GMOs, and the brand across the board does not live up to the positive public perception and nutritious message that General Mills has cultivated through years of advertisements, loose health claims, and public relations strategies.
For people interested in eating for optimal health, consuming whole foods and staying away from processed products are good basic guidelines to follow. The lengthiness of the Cheerios ingredient lists and the inclusion of unrecognizable synthetic ingredients, unnecessary and controversial food additives, cheap sweeteners, and unwholesome ingredients are directly inconsistent with those basic health rules. After reading the labels, it should be clear that there are definitely safer and less processed sources for your breakfast fiber, vitamins, and whole grains.
What Can We Do?
If you are an individual concerned about the risks of GMOs and the health of your families and the environment, GMO Inside invites you to reach out to General Mills through our petition and let Cheerios know what you think of their use of GMOs on their Facebook Page.
We also invite you to become a GMO Insider by signing up for our e-alerts about GMOs or by connecting to us on Facebook.
If you have any questions about GMOs or comments about how some of these ingredients are at high risk of being a GMO, please leave a comment below!
Low Salt Low Fat Eating
Cheerios labeling 2011 – 190 mg of sodium
Cheerios, the breakfast cereal that is marketed more as a heart medicine (“Clinically PROVEN to Help Reduce Cholesterol!”) than as a breakfast food, has been criticized in the past by your blogger and others for its surprisingly high sodium content.
For example, in 2007 ABC News reported the comments of Dr. Randall Zusman, associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, on a bowl of “one popular cereal brand” that may pack more of a sodium punch than many consumers realize:
“One cup of Cheerios — frequently advertised as heart healthy — has 300 milligrams of salt,” he explained. No one eats only one cup, so two to three cups each morning would be nearly 50 percent of your daily allotment. Yet, the FDA allows Cheerios to be advertised as a healthy alternative.” A 2007 blog post states that at that time Cheerios had a sodium content of 210 mg per serving. The same number comes up in a 2009 blog post also.
There were low key hints of this coming. In 2010, our fellow bloggers at Foodeducate quoted Susan Crockett, Ph. D., General Mills vice president, Health and Nutrition as saying
“General Mills is committed to reducing sodium levels in a series of small steps across our portfolio. We believe making changes in a series of smaller steps is the right way to continue to deliver great taste while reducing sodium.” Foodeducate added
The gradual effort will span the next 5 years and reduce the salt by 20% across product lines. Slashing a large amount at once may cause consumer backlash, so the baby step approach makes sense. It’s no small challenge to remove sodium from processed food. besides the flavor loss, salt has additional roles – from preservative to binding agent to dough improver. Unfortunately though, we are consuming twice the daily amount of salt we should be, and this leads to a host of health problems, most notably high blood pressure. (Indeed, most bread recipes require salt as it plays a role in the rising process. However, There are no salt/low salt bread recipes . Donald Gazzaniga has written a whole cook book of low salt bread and cake recipes. At right is a sodium free bread sold by Vermont Bread Company on the East Coast – Whole Foods carries it. Trader Joe’s also sells sodium free bread in all the East Coast and West Coast stores I have visited. (Although Trader Joe’s never advertises this, they have a broader selection of low salt foods than most mainstream supermarkets.) However, in most processed foods salt has no impact on the texture of the product.)
Cheerios labeling from website (October 2013) – 160 mg
The Cheerios website, as of this writing in October 2013, shows the nutrition labeling shown at left for the product with 160 gm per serving. The website also shows 12 different versions of Cheerios currently marketed in the US. According to the website these range in sodium content from 135 mg to 180 mg per serving if you really need a “sodium hit” with your breakfast.
The focus of this post is the traditional “yellow box” Cheerios that is the one marketed to adults and is the one with the repeated cardiac health claims that seem to test the FDA’s tolerance for health claims in advertising. (Honey Nut Cheerios, 160 mg per serving according to the website, also is labeled “Can Help Lower Cholesterol”, but Cinnamon Burst Cheerios, Fruity Cheerios, etc. do not appear to be marketed to adults with health claims.
Cheerios October 2013 – 140 mg
So imagine my surprise when I glanced during breakfast at a box of “yellow box” Cheerios my spouse was eating recently. The nutrition labeling is shown at left – 140 mg of sodium per serving! This could be legally labeled “low sodium”. General Mills has successfully reduced the sodium from 210 mg to 140 mg per serving. Several Google searches show no mention of this other than the vague 2010 statement from Dr. Crockett quoted above. They also show no obvious complaints from Cheerios customers about the lower sodium level. So maybe General Mills was successful with their “smaller step” approach to wean the public to a more reasonable sodium level.
As the food processing industry jumps with glee at introducing gluten-free food, even though the number of people medically needing a gluten-free diet is much lower than those needing a low sodium diet, they are ambivalent about meeting the need for low sodium foods. Indeed, General Mills’ covert marketing of the new lower sodium Cheerios – misleading information on the website and no “low sodium” designation in advertising or on the package – is a sign that the food industry views low sodium products as a secret to hide. The “low sodium” label at right has been used by Campbell’s Soup in the past on soup products. It implies that low sodium products should only be used for “sodium restricted diets” and that maybe are dangerous for others.
So congratulations to General Mills on their progress on Cheerios even though they are unwilling to admit it. Maybe the same food technologists who helped you on this project can also work to come up with more low sodium/no sodium bread choices that can be mass marketed to Americans.
Grapes Nutrition: Amazing Nutritional Facts About Grapes And Health Benefits
Packed with a number of nutrients and vitamins, grapes are unarguably one of the healthiest additions you can make to your diet. According to nutritionists across the world, grapes nutrition are packed with antioxidants, which has some incredible benefits for the skin, hair and overall health. Several studies have also claimed that grapes may have some anti-cancer properties too. It is said that grapes were one of the earliest fruits cultivated by mankind, with its origins going back 6,000 to 8,000 years in time. It is no wonder then that you often see them in classical paintings and literature too. Botanically known as Vitis vinifera, grapes are actually ‘berries’ that have a semi-solid, translucent flesh inside them. Grapes have several varieties – black grapes, white grapes, red grapes etc. The versatile fruit can be eaten fresh and raw from the bunch, or be used to make wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil etc.
(Also Read: Calories In Grapes: Here’s Why You Should Add This Superfood To Your Diet)
Grapes Nutrition: The versatile fruit can be eaten fresh and raw from the bunch or used in dishes
Grapes Nutrition: Health Benefits Of Grapes
1. Boosts Immunity: A study published in journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, revealed that resveratrol in red grapes could work with vitamin D to raise the activity of a gene called human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP gene, which is involved in immune function. 2. Antioxidant Fix: Grapes are profuse with a range of antioxidants, from carotenoids to polephenols. These antioxidants help in preventing certain kinds of cancers and also help in maintaining heart health and youthful skin. Among polyphenols, resveratrol is known for its miraculous properties such as inhibiting the formation of free radicals. The antioxidant content is the highest in the seeds and the skin. So, don’t toss them away.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure: Grapes are loaded with potassium, which helps lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt. A low sodium diet is beneficial for people struggling with problem of high blood pressure.
4. Good For The Eyes: Grapes result in lower levels of inflammatory proteins and higher amounts of protective proteins in the retinas (it is the part of the eye that contains the cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors). According to the book ‘Healing Foods’ by DK publishing, black grapes contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids, known to help in maintaining good eyesight.
(Also Read: Foods for Eyesight: 6 Foods that You Must Add in Your Daily Diet)
Grapes Nutrition: Grapes contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids, known to help
5. Maintain Water Balance Of The Body: Due to its high potassium content and low quantum of sodium grapes help maintain the electrolyte balance of the body and flush out excess water and toxins.
6. Anti-Cancer Properties: According to book ‘Healing Foods’, grapes may have strong anticancer properties too. The book notes, “The high levels of flavonoids, anthocyanins, stilbenes, and many other antioxidants, especially in dark-skinned grapes, have been found to reduce risk of cancers of the breast and prostate caused by free radical damage. Grape antioxidant dietary fibre also helps lower the risk of colon cancer.”
7. Heart Health: Resveratrol present in grapes are known to have heart protective properties. The abundant antioxidants present in grapes help prevent atherosclerosis or hardening of arteries. Polyphenols can help promote a healthy heart by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels and decreasing inflammation levels in the body. The potassium present in grapes help stabilise the blood pressure levels, thus enabling smooth inflow of blood through the heart and preventing risk of stroke. It’s anti- inflammatory properties bring relief to the arteries and promotes heart health.
(Also Read: Calories In Cucumber: 4 Interesting Ways To Use Cucumber In Your Diet)
Grapes Nutrition: Resveratrol present in grapes are known to have heart protective properties
8. Relief From Pain And Inflammation: According to a study done by Texas Woman’s University revealed that daily intake of grapes can help get relief from knee pain, especially the ones triggered due to symptomatic osteoarthritis, owing to their high level of antioxidants. According to the book Healing Foods, the leaves of grape plant is rich in polyphenols, beta carotene and vitamin K, and happens to be a traditional remedy for pain and inflammation.
Grapes Nutrition Facts: Key Vitamins, Nutrients and Minerals of the Fruit
(Note: Figures are as per the United States Department of Agriculture)
- Calories in Grapes: 100 grams of grapes have 70 calories.
- Potassium in Grapes: 100 grams of grapes have 196 milligram potassium, which accounts to 4 percent of recommended daily value intake.
- Vitamin C in Grapes: 100 grams of grapes have 3.6 mg of vitamin C, which is essential for strengthening immunity and promoting skin health.
- Phosphorous in grapes: 100 grams of grapes have 20 mg of Phosphorous, which accounts to 3 percent of recommended daily value intake. Phosphorous works with vitamin D to support bone strength.
Here is a complete grape nutrition chart that will convince you to load up on the wonder fruit today. The figures are according the United States Department of Agriculture.
CommentsA 100 gm of red or green (European type, such as Thompson seedless), raw grapes contain:
Guide to Low-Sodium Foods for the Kidney Diet
By DaVita® Dietitian Christine Swafford, MS, RD, CSR, LD
Did you know that on average the higher a person’s sodium intake, the higher the person’s blood pressure? By limiting sodium, everyone can help lower their risk for developing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease (CKD). People with normal health need only a small amount of sodium to maintain fluid balance and transmit nerve impulses in our body. But how can you keep track of your sodium when you have kidney disease and high blood pressure? This is a guide to common low-sodium food finds to help you when you’re on the kidney diet.
Tips for a low-sodium kidney diet
People with kidney disease or on dialysis have reduced or lost the ability to balance sodium and water in their body. Therefore, most people on a kidney diet need to restrict sodium and fluid intake. It’s important to realize that excess sodium consumption can make you feel thirsty, which can make following a fluid restriction quite difficult. Along with the starter’s guide to healthy low-sodium, kidney-friendly food, use these tips to help you remove added sodium from your diet.
- When you think of sodium, think of salt. One teaspoon of salt, including sea salt and kosher salt, has about 2,300 mg of sodium, more than what is recommended for your entire day!
- Some foods that contain high amounts of sodium rarely taste salty, so it’s important to check food labels and ingredients.
- Limit entrees to those with less than 600 mg or 30 percent of your daily value of sodium. Choose single food items with less than 200 mg or 10 percent of your daily value of sodium.
- To identify hidden sources of salt, look for the words sodium, baking powder, baking soda and brine anywhere in the ingredient list.
- According to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults and children are advised to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. People who are 51 and older, African Americans, and people with diabetes, hypertension or CKD should reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg each day.
Low-sodium, kidney-friendly fruits and vegetables
Most fruits have either no sodium or very little sodium. It’s recommended to stick to whole fruits that are kidney-friendly, such as apples, berries, peaches and pears. Fresh or frozen vegetables without added salt are good choices for a kidney diet. If you use canned vegetables, look for low- or no-salt versions. Another way to remove extra sodium from canned vegetables is by emptying the contents into a colander, rinsing them under fresh water and then cooking the vegetables in more fresh water.
Low-sodium, kidney-friendly meats, poultry, seafood and dairy
Most sodium intake comes from salt added during food processing; this is why convenience foods such as fast food, frozen dinners, packaged side dishes and breakfast and deli meats contribute to high sodium intake. Salt is added to foods for many uses, including curing meat, so that it retains moisture and enhances flavor. Choose fresh meats and fish when you want to cook a low-sodium kidney diet recipe. Check labels on fresh meat and poultry and avoid enhanced products that are injected with a sodium solution.
Low-sodium, kidney-friendly pasta, rice and grains
Baked goods require salt, so it’s better to consume bread products low in sodium or without any salt added.
Kidney-friendly, low-sodium condiments, seasonings and sauces
Try using fresh ingredients more often when cooking at home to control your sodium intake. Instead of grabbing the salt shaker, reach for fresh herbs and spices to add flavor to your favorite meal. If you eat out, ask for your meal to be prepared without salt or choose lower-sodium options where available.
Average sodium amount per serving
10 mg (1/4 cup)
0 mg (whole)
Herbs and spices without salt (onion powder or garlic powder)
0 mg (1 teaspoon)
50 mg (1 teaspoon)
Jam or jelly
6 mg (1 tablespoon)
0 mg (whole)
Mrs. Dash® herb seasoning blend
0 mg (1/4 teaspoon)
56 mg (1 teaspoon)
35 mg (1 teaspoon)
0 mg (1 teaspoon)
Kidney-friendly recipes low in sodium
Listed are a day’s worth of low-sodium and kidney-friendly recipes. Use this as a start to other low-sodium recipes found on DaVita.com:
- Apple Fritter Rings
- Caribbean Curry Turkey
- Fruit Salad Slaw
- California Pork Chops
- Gourmet Green Beans
- Blueberry Icebox Cake
The importance of a low-sodium guide for the kidney diet
Excess sodium intake can cause a person with kidney disease to hold on to extra fluid in the body, resulting in higher blood pressure, swollen ankles, puffy eyelids and difficulty breathing due to fluid surrounding the heart and lungs. Even if you do not experience these symptoms, a low-sodium diet is beneficial because it limits thirst and fluid weight gain between dialysis treatments and lessens discomfort during treatments. This starter’s guide to low-sodium food for the kidney diet may help improve your quality of life when you have kidney disease.
The Breakfast Challenge
In many ways breakfast is the biggest challnge for the LS/LF diet. Obviously the traditional bacon and eggs is out. No problem, maybe you’ll just move to soy-based imitation bacon and Egg Beater-like egg substitutes? Well, that would get the cholesterol down alright, but all the low cholesterol breakfast meat substitutes I have seen so far are sky high in sodium.
For example, the makers of Egg Beaters, “taste the healthy side of eggs”, may not want you to know that their product has added salt and actually has 115 mg of sodium per serving (in this case 1/4 cup or the the equivalent of 1 egg) while a real egg has about 70 mg of sodium but a lot more cholesterol (212 mg). Their “nutritional facts poster” compares the product to real eggs – leaving out all the inconvenient sodium information. Now 115 mg is not a lot of sodium and Egg Beaters could be legally called a “low sodium” product. But if you are also trying to get sodium down in your diet, which I assume many purchasers of this product are, who needs added salt? (This discussion refers to Original Egg Beaters, the newer flavors have more sodium.)
The sodium content of egg substitute brands varies, check labels when you buy!
Maybe you want to try cereal instead? Unfortunately, the American food processing industry isn’t thinking of your needs.
Cheerios makes a big deal about its impact on cholesterol levels. They are not so open about the fact that the traditional Cheerios (yellow box as shown here) has the following top 5 ingredients: “Whole Grain Oats, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Oat Bran, Salt,” and has 190 mg of sodium/serving.
Cheerios says 3 servings a day will help your cholesterol level – but they forget to mention that it would also contain 570 mg of sodium!
Hot oatmeal has no sodium and the same oat content. Many Cheerios clones have lower sodium.
There are 3 types of oatmeal available in the US market: rolled oats, steel cut oats, and instant oatmeal. The first two are usually minimally processed and usually contain no sodium, as opposed to Cheerios.
Rolled oats are flat flakes that cook in boiling water. Recipes usually say 5 minutes of cooking, but I like mine in about 2 which is both faster and makes a more crunchy dish. Steel cut oats are cut up oat kernels, are nice and crunchy but takes up to 30 minutes to cook. (See McCann’s website for options to decrease cooking time for steel cut oats.)
Instand oatmeal is much faster as you just add boiling water and stir in your bowl. It is great for travel as most hotel rooms have a coffee maker for boiling water. Many brands have some added salt (Quaker Instant Oatmeal Regular, for example, has 80 mg of sodium/serving) and some flavored instant oatmeals actually have high salt levels, so check labels carefully.
Below is a table showing the 10 best selling cold cereals in the US and their sodium content. (None contain any cholesterol.) Only one, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats, meets the 140 mg cutoff that would allow it to be called “low sodium”. Despite all its “heart healthy” labeling, Cheerios is definitely not “low sodium”.
Comparison of cold breakfast cereals
|American Brand||Market share||Sodium mg/serving||Australian Brand||Market Share||Sodium mg/serving|
|General Mills Cheerios||11.3%||190||Sanitarium Weet-Bix||15.3%||112|
|Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes||4.1%||150||Kellogg’s Just Right||9.2%||114|
|Post Honey Bunches of Oats||4.1%||150||Uncle Tobys Vita Brits||6.2%||162|
|Kellogg’s Special K||4.0%||220||Kellogg’s Sultana Bran||5.2%||265|
|Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats||3.2%||5||Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain||4.7%||275|
|Kellogg’s Raisin Bran||2.9%||350||Kellogg’s Special K||4.3%||280|
|General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch||2.6%||220||Kellogg’s Coco-Pops||3.8%||300|
|Kellogg’s Froot Loops||2.5%||150||Kellogg’s All Bran||3.3%||340|
|Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch||2.4%||202||Kellogg’s Corn Flakes||3.1%||408|
|General Mills Lucky Charms||2.4%||190||Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles||3.1%||413|
Note: US market share data is from www.lavasurfer.com/ which in turn gets its from 2005 A.C. Nielsen Financial Services for the 52-weeks ended July 16, 2005. Sodium data is from Calorie Count. Australian 1997 data is from www.nutritionaustralia.org/ which gives sodium levels/100g. Data shown has been normalized for 40g as a serving size estimate whereas US data uses serving sizes that each vary somewhat from 40 g.
For comparison, the right 3 columns show the top selling brands in Australia. Note that the top 2 with a total 24.5% market share meet the low sodium test. Interestingly in Australia the sales ranking is inverse to the sodium ranking, while in the US they seem independent.
Fortunately, among mainstream cereals there at least are three other low sodium options in addition to Frosted Mini Wheats:
|Post Shredded Wheat Spoon Size||3 mg sodium/serving|
|Quaker Oats Life||90 mg sodium/serving|
|Weetabix||130 mg sodium/serving|
Post (formerly Nabisco) Shredded Wheat and Shredded Wheat Spoon Size are the only mainstream cold cereals that contain virtually no sodium. (Sources vary but all indicate <5 mg/serving.) It also contains no cholesterol and only 1 g total fat. Shredded wheat clones have similar nutrition but some more exotic variants may not.
(Shredded wheat history)
Most, but not all, of the cereals made by Kashi are low sodium or no sodium and are usually found in mainstream stores.
Note that supermarket private label clones of national cereal brands often have different nutritional information than the original and sometimes are healthier. Thus real Grape-Nuts have 290 mg of sodium/serving while Giant’s private label clone has only 210 – not “low sodium”, but a lot closer.
Your local health food store may have other cereals from processors that are not Fortune 500 firms that are low in sodium. My local store has several no sodium or low sodium cereals from Nature’s Path including an imitation of Cheerios and also has no salt/low fat granola in bulk. They also sell LS/LF granola in bulk. (Many name brand granolas are actually quite high in fat.)
Lowsaltfoods.com has a page with salt content of many breakfast foods, but no fat information.
Traditional breads in the US and Europe are made with yeast and salt. These two ingredients interact, so just leaving out the salt doesn’t give you proper rising. The kind folks at King Arthur Flour have told me over the phone that generally you can reduce salt amounts by half in home recipes without bad results. They even have a traditional Tuscan no salt bread recipe – it seems that in olden days salt was subject to a high tax in Tuscany so the peasants improvised and developed a taste for this modified bread. Low salt cookbooks do have modified recipes for low salt or even no salt bread – but don’t expect no salt bread to be the same as Wonder Bread.
Commercial sodium-free bread can be made, although it is not necessarily the same texture and taste as conventional recipes, and is widely available in Australia. It also spoils faster than normal bread so may need to be refrigerated or frozen. However, sodium-free bread is extremely hard to find in the US for reasons that are unclear. I have never seen a low salt white bread in a store. Also the low salt breads I have encountered have been whole wheat and variants thereof. (But if you want white low salt bread, just make it yourself with .) Some ideas for finding low/no sodium bread in stores:
• Trader Joe’s should be commended for their decision to stock whole wheat no sodium bread in many stores. (They have told me that it is not available in all stores due to the lack of suppliers in all regions.)
• Sodium-free bread might be found in gourmet stores (at high prices) or in health food stores.
• Shiloh Farms Organic Sprouted Seven Grain Salt Free Bread comes from a small Pennsylvania firm and is available in “800 neighborhood health food stores from New England to the Mid Atlantic States”.
• Vermont Bread Company makes a “Sodium Free Whole Wheat” that is carried by Whole Foods Market. Their website does not indicate mail order sales, but the package says you can order by calling them at 802-254-4600.
• Garden City Lavash Roll-Ups are available for kids’ sandwhiches with only 20 or 30 g of sodium/serving. It is sold at Whole Foods and other organic stores.
• MegaHeart.com lists some sources for no salt bread in various parts of the country.
• Be careful about switching to flour tortillas as a bread alternative: Most brands are rather high in sodium. Lower sodium brands may be available in your area if you look carefully. Corn tortillas are usually low salt.
Please tell me about other brands and sources and I will list them.
So switch to biscuits or pancakes instead? Yes, you could because salt is not as important in baked products without yeast, but pancakes and biscuits are usually made with normal baking soda and/or baking powder that contain sodium. Fortunately, no sodium versions are available — although not in main stream stores. (Try web-based LS/LF sources or local health foood stores.) Pancakes and biscuits made from these products can be healthy if you avoid additional sodium and saturated fats.
Key, but hard to find, ingredients for low sodium baked goods
No sodium baking soda
Beware of certain commercial pancake and biscuit mixes. Consumer Reports points out that some commercial pancake mixes have more salt per serving than potato chips! An example to avoid:
Bisquick Shake And Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix
Per serving “nutrition”:
Total Fat 3g
Note this product is not in our Hall of Shame because the manufacturer is not making any health claims. Thus their marketing is reasonable even though the product is terrible for LS/LF diets.
Some commercial pancake and biscuit mixes have saturated fats, transfat, and cholesterol in addition to hiigh sodium levels. Many used to contain transfat but that is generally gone from items sold at retail although may still be in the wholesale version that restaurants buy. You might wish to think twice about ordering pancakes and biscuits in a restaurant unless you can get some assurances about the ingredients used.
Scandinavian-style crisp flat breads, such as the nationally sold Ryvita and Wasa brands are generally low in sodium and high in fiber, (although they certain aren’t as useful for American sandwiches as the soft high sodium Wonder bread). Matzoh/unleavened bread is also available in a no salt version.
LS/LF Cream Cheese-like Spreads for Toast
If you are looking for a change from unsalted margarine for spreading on your no salt bread, you might want to consider:
• Fresh Made Non Fat Farmer Cheese
(0 g fat, 10 mg sodium/serving)
• Friendship No Salt Added Farmer Cheese
(2.5 g fat, 10 mg sodium/serving)
• Lifeway Farmer Cheese
(1 g fat, 10 mg sodium/serving)
•Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese”
(5 g fat, 160 mg sodium/serving)
You might also want to make a yoghurt spread by placing unsweetened nonfat yoghurt in a strainer with cheesecloth and letting liquid drain out to make it thicker but with the same tangy taste.
Fage brand “ridiculously thick” Total 0% yoghurt
is basically strained yoghurt
(0 mg fat, 85 mg sodium/serving)
The conditions that lead to the need for a LS/LF diet often benefit from increased fruit in your diet, something Americans don’t get enough of anyway. You know, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away …”. So increasing fruit consumption is generally a good idea.
Feel free to contact me with comments and suggestions:
The author of this web site has absolutely no formal education, training, or certification related to its subject matter. This is only an attempt to share information he has gathered. Every attempt has been made to reference statements to their original source so you can review them.
Do not make decisions concerning your medical situation based on information herein.
Always consult your medical provider on health-related matters including diet.
Please make more of your cereals low in salt; I am on a very restricted diet that has to be low in sodium.
We know people are being more mindful about sodium, and we’re listening to our consumers. Kellogg’s has reduced the sodium in our most popular cereals in the U.S. by as much as 70 percent since 1998. Worldwide in our key markets, we’ve reduced the amount of sodium in many of our foods, including in our ready-to-eat cereals by 18 percent since 2007.
Following is a list of our sodium-free and low-sodium cereals. Please remember that recipes may change over time, so for the most accurate nutrition information you should read the nutrition facts found on the package you purchase.
Sodium free cereals (5mg or less per serving):
- Frosted Mini-Wheats® Bite Size Original cereal
- Frosted Mini-Wheats® Blueberry cereal
- Frosted Mini-Wheats® Maple Brown Sugar cereal
- Frosted Mini-Wheats® Strawberry cereal
- Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites® Original cereal
- Mini-Wheats® Unfrosted Bite Size cereal
Low sodium cereals (140 mg or less per serving):
- All-Bran® Original cereal
- Apple Jacks®
- Cinnabon® cereal
- Cinnamon Jacks cereal
- Cocoa Krispies® cereal
- Corn Pops® cereal
- Cracklin’ Oat Bran® cereal
- Crunchy Nut® Golden Honey Nut Flakes cereal
- Crunchy Nut® Roasted Nut & Honey O’s cereal
- Froot Loops® cereal
- Froot Loops® Marshmallow cereal
- Frosted Flakes® cereal
- Frosted Krispies® cereal
- Frosted Mini-Wheats® Touch of Fruit in the Middle Raisin cereal
- Frosted Mini-Wheats® Touch of Fruit in the Middle Raspberry cereal
- Honey Smacks® cereal
- Krave® Chocolate cereal
- Krave® Double Chocolate cereal
- Kellogg’s® Low Fat Granola Original (without Raisins) Multi-Grain cereal
- Mueslix® cereal
- Special K® Cereal Fruit & Yogurt
- Special K® Cereal Low Fat Granola
- Special K® Cereal Oats & Honey
Guidelines for a Low Sodium Diet
General Guidelines for Cutting Down on Salt
- Eliminate salty foods from your diet and reduce the amount of salt used in cooking. Sea salt is no better than regular salt.
- Choose low sodium foods. Many salt-free or reduced salt products are available. When reading food labels, low sodium is defined as 140 mg of sodium per serving.
- Salt substitutes are sometimes made from potassium, so read the label. If you are on a low potassium diet, then check with your doctor before using those salt substitutes.
- Be creative and season your foods with spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar and pepper. Remove the salt shaker from the table.
- Read ingredient labels to identify foods high in sodium. Items with 400 mg or more of sodium are high in sodium. High sodium food additives include salt, brine, or other items that say sodium, such as monosodium glutamate.
- Eat more home-cooked meals. Foods cooked from scratch are naturally lower in sodium than most instant and boxed mixes.
- Don’t use softened water for cooking and drinking since it contains added salt.
- Avoid medications which contain sodium such as Alka Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer.
- For more information; food composition books are available which tell how much sodium is in food. Online sources such as www.calorieking.com also list amounts.
Meats, Poultry, Fish, Legumes, Eggs and Nuts
- Smoked, cured, salted or canned meat, fish or poultry including bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, sausage, sardines, caviar and anchovies
- Frozen breaded meats and dinners, such as burritos and pizza
- Canned entrees, such as ravioli, spam and chili
- Salted nuts
- Beans canned with salt added
- Any fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry and fish
- Eggs and egg substitutes
- Low-sodium peanut butter
- Dry peas and beans (not canned)
- Low-sodium canned fish
- Drained, water or oil packed canned fish or poultry
- Regular and processed cheese, cheese spreads and sauces
- Cottage cheese
- Milk, yogurt, ice cream and ice milk
- Low-sodium cheeses, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and mozzarella
Breads, Grains and Cereals
- Bread and rolls with salted tops
- Quick breads, self-rising flour, biscuit, pancake and waffle mixes
- Pizza, croutons and salted crackers
- Prepackaged, processed mixes for potatoes, rice, pasta and stuffing
- Breads, bagels and rolls without salted tops
- Muffins and most ready-to-eat cereals
- All rice and pasta, but do not to add salt when cooking
- Low-sodium corn and flour tortillas and noodles
- Low-sodium crackers and breadsticks
- Unsalted popcorn, chips and pretzels
Vegetables and Fruits
- Regular canned vegetables and vegetable juices
- Olives, pickles, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables
- Vegetables made with ham, bacon or salted pork
- Packaged mixes, such as scalloped or au gratin potatoes, frozen hash browns and Tater Tots
- Commercially prepared pasta and tomato sauces and salsa
- Fresh and frozen vegetables without sauces
- Low-sodium canned vegetables, sauces and juices
- Fresh potatoes, frozen French fries and instant mashed potatoes
- Low-salt tomato or V-8 juice.
- Most fresh, frozen and canned fruit
- Dried fruits
- Regular canned and dehydrated soup, broth and bouillon
- Cup of noodles and seasoned ramen mixes
- Low-sodium canned and dehydrated soups, broth and bouillon
- Homemade soups without added salt
Fats, Desserts and Sweets
- Soy sauce, seasoning salt, other sauces and marinades
- Bottled salad dressings, regular salad dressing with bacon bits
- Salted butter or margarine
- Instant pudding and cake
- Large portions of ketchup, mustard
- Vinegar, unsalted butter or margarine
- Vegetable oils and low sodium sauces and salad dressings
- All desserts made without salt