What Do You Mean Pop-Tarts Are NOT Healthy?

Okay, I’m not completely nutritional challenged. I know that the popular toaster pastry isn’t exactly packed with vitamins and nutrients. However, I didn’t realize that you are better off skipping breakfast altogether than downing one as you dash out the door.

It was news to me. A nutritional update I got directly from someone who knows a thing or two about the health benefits of food. Last week I drove to the TV station I used to work for to drop off a birthday present for a friend/former colleague. (I was out of town and missed her party.) As I was leaving I noticed the production team setting up a display for an upcoming segment on healthy breakfast options. They had laid out whole-wheat toast, cereal, donuts, yogurt, fruit, eggs and the ubiquitous Pop-Tarts.

Just as I was picking up the familiar box, Janet, our resident nutritionist entered the studio. I’ve interviewed her dozens of times during my tenure at the station so we spent a few minutes getting caught up on our personal lives. Then, just as I was about to leave so she could tape her segment I mentioned how I had a major flashback when I saw the Pop-Tarts box (the handy toaster pastries were a staple in my diet during college.)

You should have seen the look on her face when she heard how I easily went through an entire box in a week’s time. She was appalled (to say the least). Hey, I was a poor college kid who preferred to grab a few more minutes of sleep than to get up and prepare an omelet before heading off to class. That’s when I learned (via Janet) that I would have been better off skipping breakfast altogether than eat the Pop-Tarts. Apparently, the only thing worse than skipping breakfast is eating the wrong breakfast.

So what constitutes an “ideal” breakfast? According to Janet, we should all be consuming protein (such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter or meat) and fiber (fruits and whole grains) to nourish our bodies and provide satiety, plus antioxidants (fruits, nuts, and seeds) to help protect cells and tissues.

Experts say bad breakfast choices… yes, the Pop-Tarts and donuts, do not provide adequate amounts of protein, fiber, or antioxidants. They also are known to make you hungry shortly after you eat them. All Bad news. But, here’s the newsflash that had me reeling. According to Janet, foods such as Pop-Tarts and high sugar cereals have been proven to cause cell damage.

Do you have any idea how much cell damage I must have suffered in college?

Here’s why Janet says they’re bad for you. Pop-Tarts contain 210 calories, 5g fat, (hydrogenated cottonseed oil), 2g protein, less than 1g fiber, 20g sugar, along with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors and they are void of antioxidants. In addition, they have very little nutritional value, and will raise hunger mid-morning.

Meanwhile, a single glazed donut has 210 calories, 8g fat, 4g trans fat, 3g protein, 1g fiber, 14g sugar and no antioxidants. Donuts also have little nutritional value and may cause cell damage. Oh, and Janet says don’t think you are doing your body a favor by eating a granola bar. The typical granola bar contains about 90 calories, 1g protein, (partially hydrogenated oil) 1g fiber, 7g sugar, high fructose corn syrup and no antioxidants.

And the news is not any better when it comes to some cereals and yogurts. It’ a good idea to read the label before you place a certain brand in your grocery cart. For example, Fruit Loops have 120 calories, 1g protein, 1g fiber, 15g sugar, hydrogenated oil, few nutrients and loads of artificial colors and flavors. Also, Fruit Loops offer no satiety and studies show they cause cell damage. In addition, Go-gurt has 80 calories, 2g protein, 2g fat, 0 fiber, 11g sugar, high fructose corn syrup, no antioxidants and is packed with artificial colors and flavors.

I had no idea.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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