Fruity Pebbles smell good and taste great, but I’ll be honest—the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts label kind of scare me. Today, let’s take a close look at what this delicious cereal is actually made of, and why you may want to think twice about eating it regularly.
Fruity Pebbles have 12g of added sugar and 0g of fiber per serving, making it potentially unhealthy for blood sugar and weight control. Fruity Pebbles also have artificial colors that cause hyperactivity in some children, along with BHA, a preservative that is likely carcinogenic.
Below, we’ll cover the ingredients and nutrition facts for Fruity Pebbles in more detail. We’ll look at whether Fruity Pebbles can fit into a weight loss diet, and whether they could affect your acne, as well.
Are Fruity Pebbles Bad for You?
Here are the 8 specific questions I’ll be answering about Fruity Pebbles nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are the Ingredients in Fruity Pebbles?
- Are Fruity Pebbles High in Sugar?
- Are the Artificial Colors in Fruity Pebbles Safe?
- Do Fruity Pebbles Have Protein?
- Do Fruity Pebbles Have Fiber?
- Are Fruity Pebbles Good for Weight Loss?
- Are Fruity Pebbles Bad for Acne?
- Are Fruity Pebbles Vegan?
1. What Are the Ingredients in Fruity Pebbles?
Let’s start by discussing what Fruity Pebbles are made of.
Fruity Pebbles ingredients: Rice, Sugar, Canola Oil, Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Turmeric Oleoresin (color), Blue 1, Blue 2, BHT and BHA added to preserve freshness. [Plus Vitamins and Minerals.]
Here’s what I notice from these ingredients:
- The main ingredient in Fruity Pebbles is rice. Is rice healthy? Well, it’s not the worst food in the world. But it’s not the best, either. It’s mostly just plain carbs and not much other nutritional value. It’s not very nutrient dense.
- Fruity Pebbles have added sugar. Of course, this sugar is processed, high-glycemic, and adds more empty calories. We’ll cover more about the sugar content of Fruity Pebbles below.
- Fruity Pebbles have canola oil. Generally speaking, vegetable oils are highly processed, high in calories, and low in nutrients. And this applies to canola oil, which is found in Fruity Pebbles.
- Fruity Pebbles have artificial colors. Specifically, it has Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1, and Blue 2. These dyes are controversial for causing hyperactivity in some children, and for possible connections to cancer. You can read more below.
- Fruity Pebbles have BHA. BHA is a preservative that may be carcinogenic. Multiple credible health organizations have concluded that BHA could be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” and that it is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” (source)
- Fruity Pebbles have added vitamins and minerals. This is really only a small benefit. Most people are probably getting these nutrients from other foods anyway, and most would be better absorbed from whole foods. That said, it may provide some benefit.
Overall, the ingredients of Fruity Pebbles lack much nutritional value beyond carbs and some common fortified vitamins and minerals. And they include some pretty negative ingredients, too.
But let’s look closer at the numbers. How much sugar, protein, and fiber do Fruity Pebbles actually have? We’ll cover that in the next sections.
- Does Fruity Pebbles have real fruit? No, Fruity Pebbles does not have real fruit. The sweet flavor comes from added sugar, and the colors come from artificial coloring dyes.
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2. Are Fruity Pebbles High in Sugar?
Fruity Pebbles are high in sugar, with 12 grams of added sugar per serving (1 cup or 36g). This is six times the sugar of Cheerios, and four times the sugar of Corn Flakes. It is around the same sugar content as Frosted Flakes or Froot Loops.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. But no added sugar is needed for human health. Really, the healthiest diet would likely just have natural sugar from fruit and whole foods.
So for me personally, any amount of “added sugar” is a negative. Unfortunately, most popular foods today come with a bunch of sugar.
Here is a table I put together comparing the sugar content of Fruity Pebbles to other popular cereal brands:
|Cereal||Serving Size||Total Sugars||Added Sugar|
|Cheerios||1 1/2 cup (39g)||2g||2g|
|Corn Flakes||1 1/2 cup (42g)||4g||4g|
|Froot Loops||1 1/3 cup (39g)||12g||12g|
|Frosted Flakes||1 cup (37g)||12g||12g|
|Fruity Pebbles||1 cup (36g)||12g||12g|
|Grape Nuts||1/2 cup (58g)||5g||0g|
|Raisin Bran||1 cup (59g)||17g||9g|
|Rice Krispies||1 1/2 cup (40g)||4g||4g|
|Shredded Wheat||1 1/3 cup (60g)||0g||0g|
|Special K||1 1/4 cup (39g)||5g||4g|
As you can see, Fruity Pebbles is one of the highest-sugar cereals on the market. But there’s even more to the story.
When carbs like rice are digested in your body, they quickly turn into sugars, too. This is why diabetics and others with blood-sugar issues often limit their total carb consumption—not just “sugar.”
Cereals like Fruity Pebbles generally rank high on the glycemic index. For example, Rice Krispies, which only has 1/3 the added sugar of Fruity Pebbles, is already ranked as “High” on the glycemic index. (source)
So if you have blood-sugar issues, you may want to avoid Fruity Pebbles or limit your portion sizes. Below, I’ll also discuss how Fruity Pebbles may affect acne by affecting blood-sugar levels.
3. Are the Artificial Colors in Fruity Pebbles Safe?
Fruity Pebbles have the artificial colors Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, and Blue 2. Research suggests these artificial colors cause hyperactivity and behavioral issues in some children. There are also concerns around possible carcinogens in the artificial colors in Fruity Pebbles.
Some research has suggested as little as 50 mg per day of artificial colors could cause behavioral changes in children. In fact, the EU requires foods with Red 40 to have a warning saying it “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
In 2004, researchers from Harvard and Columbia University estimated that removing artificial food coloring from the diets of children with ADHD would be about one-third or one-half as effective as treating them with Ritalin.
There may also be cancer risks from some of these artificial colors, but the evidence is not solid:
- Yellow 5: A 2015 study found that Yellow 5 caused DNA damage in human white blood cells that it was exposed to. It is possible that this DNA damage could lead to tumor formation if it were to happen in amounts that could not be repaired.
- Yellow 6: Yellow 6 often contains known carcinogenic contaminants, including benzidine and 4-amino-biphenyl. These contaminants have only been documented at low levels where it shouldn’t be cause for concern, however. There were also animal trials where Yellow 6 resulted in kidney/adrenal tumors—but this result is disputed. (source, source)
- Red 40: Red 40 has small amounts of benzidene, which is a known carcinogen. It’s legally allowed because the amount is small enough to have no presumed effect.
- Blue 1: An unpublished study on Blue 1 suggested that it may cause tumors in mice. In addition, a test-tube study found that Blue 1 inhibited nerve cell development. So the effect on unborn fetuses may be of concern. (source)
- Blue 2: One study found a statistically significant increase in brain gliomas and malignant mammary gland tumors in male rats fed a 2% diet of Blue 2. The FDA found reasons to discount these findings, and they did not ban the dye—but critics still insist Blue 2 is not safe. (source)
All of these artificial colors are still being tested on animals to determine their safety. The most established problem is hyperactivity in kids. Some governments have taken steps to add warnings or ban some of these dyes.
It’s actually hard to find good credible sources on which of these dyes are currently banned in which countries. But I found the most credible documentation that Yellow 6 is currently banned in Japan and several European countries.
4. Do Fruity Pebbles Have Protein?
Fruity Pebbles only have 1 gram of protein per serving (1 cup or 36 grams). However, if you’re eating Fruity Pebbles with milk of some sort, it could have 9 grams or more of protein per serving.
None of the ingredients in Fruity Pebbles are particularly high in protein. In fact, only about 3% of Fruity Pebbles’ calories come from protein. Meanwhile, about 10% of the calories come from fat, and all the rest come from carbs.
Obviously, your selection of milk can impact how much protein is in your bowl of Fruity Pebbles, too. If you’re choosing a plant-based milk, then soy milk or pea milk will likely have the most. Almond milk and rice milk are usually low in protein.
As someone who lifts weights and loves cereal, I have a cereal protein tip: Mix protein powder into your milk before you pour it on your cereal. This simple change can turn cereal into a decently high-protein meal—while keeping it easy, quick, and delicious. Vanilla protein powder might go well with Fruity Pebbles.
5. Do Fruity Pebbles Have Fiber?
Fruity Pebbles do not have a significant amount of fiber. The nutrition facts label for Fruity Pebbles shows 0 grams of fiber per serving (1 cup or 36g).
This is a bit of a disappointment. The health benefits of fiber are many—and only about 5% of Americans get the recommended amount. Unless you have a specific reason to be on a low-fiber diet, usually it’s healthiest to choose higher fiber foods.
When you eat in-tact rice, you’ll typically get at least a couple grams of fiber, especially if it’s brown rice. But when you go for Fruity Pebbles, you’re not getting any significant amount.
6. Are Fruity Pebbles Good for Weight Loss?
Fruity Pebbles would not be the best choice for a weight-loss diet. Other cereals could help fill you up with more fiber and less sugar, and perhaps keep you more satisfied in a calorie deficit. But you can still lose weight while eating Fruity Pebbles.
Fruity Pebbles is not a low-calorie food since it has processed sugar and oil. Processed ingredients tend to have a relatively high caloric density, as the bulk and fiber are removed. To lose weight, it helps to focus on whole foods.
By itself, a few servings of Fruity Pebbles will not make or break your weight loss diet, though. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.
If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating each week overall, you should lose weight. Eating some Fruity Pebbles or other “processed foods” on occasion will not ruin your diet, as long as that overall pattern is in tact.
If your goal is weight loss, I would consider (A) tracking your calories, or (B) following some of these 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories. Whether you eat some Fruity Pebbles (in moderation) will not make or break your weight-loss journey by itself.
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7. Are Fruity Pebbles Bad for Acne?
The relationship between diet and acne is still evolving. But increasingly, there is significant evidence that diet does play a central role in acne! And there are a few specific types of foods that are widely acknowledged as problematic.
The first big problem food for acne is dairy: Milk, cheese, ice cream, and so on. So if you’re eating your Fruity Pebbles with cow’s milk, that could already be aggravating your acne.
But the second kind of acne problem food is even more closely associated with Fruity Pebbles. It’s sugar and high glycemic index carbohydrates. As covered above, not only does Fruity Pebbles have added sugar—it has a whole bunch of high-GI carbs from rice.
Milk, sugar, and high-GI carbs are all suspected to affect acne through similar mechanisms. It has to do with your body’s insulin response. Your body’s use of insulin is affected by eating dairy foods and also by spikes in your blood sugar. (source)
Interestingly, this means that for many acne sufferers, reducing acne is about stabilizing your blood-sugar levels. And often, that means cutting out high-GI carbs like those found in Fruity Pebbles—or at least minimizing them.
Personally, I found that cereal was one of the worst foods for my acne. Even if I chose cereals with “no added sugar,” the high-GI processed flakes still caused problems for me.
If you want to learn more, I wrote a lot more about acne science and how to clear your acne in this massive blog post.
8. Are Fruity Pebbles Vegan?
Fruity Pebbles are generally considered vegan. They do not contain egg, dairy, meat, or honey. However, they do contain sugar and vitamin D3, which are gray-area ingredients that some vegans avoid.
Non-organic cane sugar is often filtered with bone char to give it its pure white color. Meanwhile, vitamin D3 is usually derived from lanolin (from sheep’s wool).
Some vegans boycott these ingredients, but many don’t worry about it. Personally, I don’t worry about these ingredients, and I explained more about why in this blog post.
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