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Q: I am wondering if popcorn is a feasible alternative to breakfast cereal for kids (provided they get a multi-vitamin to replace the supplementation found in most cereals). Popcorn has more carbohydrates, less sugar, and more fiber than most of the highly marketed kids' cereals. My child that prefers popcorn is very thin, but as long as he eats the same number of calories, would it be as healthy eating popcorn. Thanks, Grant
Grant Keiser - Cedar Rapids


A: Thanks for this interesting question. First let's take a look at the nutritional value of one cup of air popped popcorn. This yields 31 calories, no fat, no sodium, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein and no calcium or iron. If butter or salt is added this would of course change the nutrient profile. It is understandable that you may not want to serve your child high-sugar cereals, but alternatives such as Cheerios, Rice Krispies or Corn Chex, just to name a few, would be low sugar options. When fruit is added to these cereals, plus milk, your child would have a balanced breakfast. It is best to focus on three food groups per meal, therefore popcorn alone would not be advised. The addition of a multivitamin is ok, though it is best to get nutrients from food when possible. If you child is still determined to have popcorn, add another two food groups to this and it would be more nutrient dense meal. Suggestions of foods to include; a banana, strawberries or other berries, milk, yogurt, or string cheese. Hopefully this will help in making breakfast meal choices.


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