Is it really healthy? Kashi Cereals & Snacks

Let me just come right out and say it. I LOVE cereal. I mean come on, a bowl full of grainy, carb filled puffs all lathered in milk…nobody can keep me away. Well, besides myself; because although I really, really do loooove cereal the way Kel looooves orange soda, I only eat it for breakfast once every so often because in the morning I like to try and get more nutrients than most cereals can provide, and usually it doesn’t fill me up enough the way that a bowl of oatmeal or an omelette with vegetables would.

So, since we’re talking about my love/ hate relationship with cereal, I’ll share with you that Kashi’s Autumn Wheat cereal is my all-time favorite! It’s SO good. But this installment of “Is it really healthy?" isn’t just about Kashi’s Autumn Wheat Cereal because, for a cereal, it’s actually pretty healthy. (180 calories, 1g of fat, 7g of sugar, and 6g of protein. Plus, the ingredient list is only three items long…not bad!)

What it is about, though, is Kashi as a brand and how just because it produces some foods that will benefit your body, doesn’t mean that everything they make is necessarily healthy. It’s also a part of Matchstick Molly’s Matchstick Challenge # 8, in which Molly challenged her readers to go out and find a food that’s marketed as “healthy,” and then use their investigative skills to find out whether or not it really is.

Challenge accepted! My detective hat is on and I’ve got my magnifying glass up against the nutritional facts for a Kashi Cereal that from a distance- with all its pretty colors, nature imagery, and big USDA Organic label- looks pretty darn healthy. But is it really? Let’s find out!

I decided to look at Kashi’s Summer Berry Granola, which was actually recently featured on an "Eat This, Not That" segment of The Today Show. So, look at the box. It looks so pretty and there’s lots of berries..it must be good! Not so fast. First we have to take into consideration serving size. The recommended serving size is 1/2 of a cup.

Pshhh, OK! First of all, just LOOK at the size of that bowl on the box. That’s like, 7 cups of cereal in that bowl. They’re not setting a very good example here. Second of all, the average cereal consumer is not going to take the time to pour the cereal into a measuring cup and then into their bowl. I’ll be honest: me, the girl who has learned to measure everything she eats for proper serving sizes, usually pours her cereal right into the bowl. I WANT IT ALL!

And third of all, when you’re under the impression that something is “healthy,” you’re much more likely to eat more of it without feeling guilty or ever realizing that you’re eating wayyyy too much. So for all intents and purposes we’ll evaluate the nutritional values for one cup. Plus, if we’re having cereal we can’t forget to count the milk, so I’ll stick with the standards that The Today Show used and say that most people would pour 1 cup of 2% Reduced Fat milk over their cereal.

OK, the breakdown! (Going by values from here & here. My calculations came close to, but didn’t quite exactly add up with what The Today Show reported.)
Calories: 500 +
Fat: 16.8 g
Carbs: 85g
Sugar: 30g

Ingredients (bolded are things that seem questionable, are not naturally occuring or  that I would need to look up): Kashi Seven Whole Grains; Sesame Blend (Oat(s) Rolled Whole, Wheat Hard Red Winter, Rye, Barley, Triticale, Rice Brown Long Grain, Buckwheat, Sesame Seed(s)), Cane Juice Syrup Evaporated, Canola Oil Expeller Pressed, Arabic Gum, Strawberry(ies) Freeze Dried, Blackberry(ies) Dried, Salt Sea, Dried Kiwi, Honey, Flavor(s) Natural, Malic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Citric Acid, Tocopherols Mixed Natural To Preserve Freshness, Milk Non-Fat Dry

Ummm so….doesn’t sound so healthy & natural after all, does it? And remember this is just one example. Check out some of their other products that have way too many unpronounceable ingredients, way too much sugar, and that I think are totally bogus.

Kashi Go Lean! Chocolate Almond Protein & Fiber Snack Bar
Kashi 5 Cheese Tomato Pizza
Kashi Cheese Country Cheddar Tasty Little Crackers

I will admit, these are not completely terrible. There’s much worse junk out there, people. But still, they’re not really “good.” Why eat the above when you could just eat a handful of yummy almonds, make your own pizza topped with vegetables, or eat some real cheese with whole wheat crackers? It doesn’t take that much more effort.

I also feel I should mention that there have been several claims that Kashi (which is owned by Kellogg’s) uses Genetically Modified Organisms (particularly their soy), which is another whole blog post in itself that I will get to soon. But for now, if you are not familiar with GMO’s and why they are bad, check out this link specifically regarding Kashi.

So! Is it really healthy?

Summer Berry Granola: probably not- but do note that most of it comes back to portion control and serving size!
Some other Kashi Products: Maybe…but not really. Skip them and go for a REAL food.
Kashi Autumn Wheat Cereal: YES! And Still my favorite!

What did we learn?
- Portion control! Portion control! Portion control! Most things are OK in moderation, but just read the darn label and measure your food for pete’s sake!
- Just because the company says it’s healthy (doesn’t this AD sort of seem like a huge lye now?) and they make it look healthy….DOESN’T MEAN IT IS HEALTHY!
- Katie loooooves cereal!