Not such a great choice if you are looking for something to keep you going strong until lunch time.
And quick cooking, instant or microwave oatmeal don't count in my healthy category either. But whole grain cereal is easy to 'cook' in a thermos bottle overnight.
I hope you'll take a harder look at your kitchen cupboard after reading this excerpt from a 2002 conference, presented by Sally Fallon, and do a little more research.
Dry breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Cereal makers first create a slurry of the grains and then put them in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a little hole at high temperature and pressure. Depending on the shape of the hole, the grains are made into little o's, flakes, animal shapes, or shreds (as in Shredded Wheat or Triscuits), or they are puffed (as in puffed rice). A blade slices off each little flake or shape, which is then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.
In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt has told us that the extrusion process used for these cereals destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. It destroys the fatty acids; it even destroys the chemical vitamins that are added at the end. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially denatured by extrusion. This is how all the boxed cereals are made, even the ones sold in the health food stores. They are all made in the same way and mostly in the same factories. All dry cereals that come in boxes are extruded cereals.
The only advances made in the extrusion process are those that will cut cost regardless of how these will alter the nutrient content of the product. Cereals are a multi-billion dollar business, one that has created huge fortunes.
With so many people eating breakfast cereals, you might expect to find some studies on the effect of extruded cereals on animals or humans. Yet, there are no published studies at all in the scientific literature.
The Rat Experiments
Let me tell you about two studies which were not published. The first was described by Paul Stitt who wrote about an experiment conducted by a cereal company in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on water alone lived about a month. But the company's own laboratory study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks---they died before the rats that got no food at all. It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.
Results like these suggested that there was something actually very toxic in the puffed wheat itself! Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes, which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.
Another unpublished experiment was carried out in the 1960s. Researchers at University of Michigan were given 18 laboratory rats. They were divided into three groups: one group received corn flakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the corn flakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats eating the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. But the rats receiving the corn flakes and water died before the rats that were eating the box! (The last corn flake rat died the day the first box rat died.) But before death, the corn flake rats developed schizophrenic behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. The startling conclusion of this study is that there was more nourishment in the box than there was in the corn flakes.
This experiment was actually designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny. The results were never published and similar studies have not been conducted.
Most of America eats this kind of cereal. In fact, the USDA is gloating over the fact that children today get the vast majority of their important nutrients from the nutrients added to these boxed cereals.
Cereals sold in the health food stores are made by the same method. It may come as a shock to you, but these whole grain extruded cereals are probably more dangerous than those sold in the supermarket, because they are higher in protein and it is the proteins in these cereals that are so denatured by this type of processing.
There are no published studies on the effects of these extruded grains on animals or humans, but I did find one study in a literature search that described the microscopic effects of extrusion on the proteins. "Zeins," which comprise the majority of proteins in corn, are located in spherical organelles called protein bodies. During extrusion, these protein bodies are completely disrupted and deformed. The extrusion process breaks down the organelles, disperses the proteins and the proteins become toxic. When they are disrupted in this way, you have absolute chaos in your food, and it can result in a disruption of the nervous system.
Some cereals more than half sugar: report Thu Oct 2, 2008
Some breakfast cereals marketed to U.S. children are more than half sugar by weight and many get only fair scores on nutritional value, Consumer Reports said on Wednesday.
A serving of 11 popular cereals, including Kellogg's Honey Smacks, carries as much sugar as a glazed doughnut, the consumer group found.
And some brands have more sugar and sodium when formulated for the U.S. market than the same brands have when sold in other countries.
Post Golden Crisp made by Kraft Foods Inc and Kellogg's Honey Smacks are more than 50 percent sugar by weight, the group said, while nine brands are at least 40 percent sugar.
The most healthful brands are Cheerios with three grams of fiber per serving and one gram of sugar, Kix and Honey Nut Cheerios, all made by General Mills, and Life, made by Pepsico Inc's Quaker Oats unit.
"Be sure to read the product labels, and choose cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar and sodium," Gayle Williams, deputy editor of Consumer Reports Health, said in a statement.
Honey Smacks has 15 grams of sugar and just one gram of fiber per serving while Kellogg's Corn Pops has 12 grams of sugar and no fiber.
Consumer Reports studied how 91 children aged 6 to 16 poured their cereal and found they served themselves about 50 to 65 percent more on average than the suggested serving size for three of the four tested cereals.
Consumers International, which publishes Consumer Reports, said it would ask the World Health Organization to develop international guidelines restricting advertising and marketing of foods high in sugar, fat or sodium to children.
However, the group noted that breakfast cereal can be a healthful meal and said adults and children alike who eat breakfast have better overall nutrition, fewer weight problems, and better cognitive performance throughout the day.
Kellogg said it was working to make its food more nutritious.
"Kellogg recently reformulated a number of our cereals including Froot Loops, Corn Pops, Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies and Apple Jacks in the U.S. with improved nutritional profiles," a company spokeswoman said by e-mail.
"To put Consumer Reports' information in perspective, yogurt contains more sugar and sodium than a serving of Honey Smacks cereal (25 grams of sugar vs. 15 grams of sugar in Honey Smacks)."
Consumer Reports, like other groups, compares the sugar content of food with its fiber, mineral and vitamin content. Many cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Eric Walsh, Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited.