Choosing the wrong type of oatmeal can be harmful -- not healthy

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by Mia Gradney / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 11:19 AM

HOUSTON—A warm bowl of oatmeal is standard fare for breakfast; and a seemingly healthy one.

Packed with soluble fiber, oatmeal can be a great addition to a healthy diet, but you have to buy the right one.

“Oatmeal’s healthy reputation is so solid, you might not think to check the nutrition label,” said Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian with The Methodist Hospital. “You might not think to check the nutrition label, but a lot of brands pack tons of artificial ingredients – sugars—that displace oatmeal’s heart healthy waistline trimming benefits.”

Kooi conducted a comparison to illustrate just how high some sugar levels are in oatmeal. She says one packet of the Kashi Apple Cinnamon oatmeal is the equivalent of four Starbursts candies even though they appear harmless; especially in those tiny packets.

But the little packet is nothing when compared to a package of Quaker Apple Walnut Oatmeal. She says it’s the sugar equivalent to a king size Kit Kat bar. Eating an oatmeal bar isn’t much better, either.

“Just one is the sugar equivalent to two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups,” Kooi said.

It’s best to stick with the basics, but that can be difficult because of all of the variety. On store shelves you will find original instant, rolled oats, plus Scottish or Irish oats. Kooi suggests using flavorful fixins’ to “jazz it up.” She recommends vanilla extract, cocoa powder and canned pumpkin puree and all spice for the fall.

“You’re still keeping it healthy and a lid on the amount of sugar added,” Kooi said.

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