Quaker brand oatmeals can lean towards both sides of the spectrum. Check the ingredient labels on the low-sugar instant versions, in particular - some contain sucralose and some contain artificial flavors, both of which are the subject of controversy.
Quaker markets a whole range of different oatmeal products. Their oatmeals are mostly oats, and oats are good for you. They're a source of soluble fiber, which helps to regulate cholesterol and slow down the speed at which your body absorbs sugar. They also provide insoluble fiber, which helps to keep your bowels functioning properly. They provide a whole range of essential nutrients, including a healthy dose of iron. Quaker oatmeal made with whole oats is the healthiest, in our opinion; steel cut is next best, followed by rolled, quick, and instant oats.
Not all Quaker brands are created equal, however. Quaker Oats Oatmeal has a very short ingredient list: it's rolled oats. That's it. There's no added sugars or sweeteners, and little processing. A good rule of thumb is to look for products at the grocery store that have fewer ingredients; by that measure, Quaker Oats scores very high marks.
Other Quaker oatmeal products, however, may not be so good for you. Quaker Instant Oatmeal has 8 grams of added sugar per serving. That's not much, but it's also a step down - sugar adds up quickly, and too much in the diet can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and poor dental health. Some instant varieties, such as Maple and Brown Sugar, also contain additives like artificial flavors and caramel color. Both are controversial, with studies pointing towards an increased risk of cancer with long-term consumption.
Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal cuts the sugar content of standard Instant Oats from 8 grams to 2. This trick is managed by sweetening the oatmeal with sucralose - a controversial sweetener that you can find in Splenda packets and diet sodas.
Sucralose is low calorie. Much of it passes right through the body without being absorbed. It's also been the subject of scrutiny. Advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest has called on the FDA and other regulatory agencies to restrict use of sucralose. They point to studies suggests it increased the rate of leukemia in mice. Those studies have in turn been criticized as sloppy science. Regulatory agencies have been reluctant to move on sucralose; it's one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in the world, and it's still regarded as safe and permitted for use all around the globe.
Quaker Oats is owned by Monsanto - an agribusiness titan that's reshaped the Midwest and spent years embroiled in scandal. Shoppers who do not want to support Monsanto by buying their products may want to look for an alternative oatmeal.
- Some varieties have more sugar than others
- Some varieties have sucralose, which may cause leukemia
- Some varieties have artificial flavors, which may cause cancer
- Some varieties have caramel color, which may also cause cancer