Welcome to Food-for-Thought Wednesday! Today we are going to ponder breakfast cereal, which is a staple in the Standard American Diet (SAD). We are going to consider how it is manufactured, how nutritious it really is, and whether having it as a staple food is such a great idea, or not!
I’d like to thank Dr. Christopher Nagy for making we aware of the link below, which describes how the various puffs and flakes are manufactured. Warning – after you read this, you won’t think of your buddies Snap, Crackle, and Pop the same again:
There is a lot of information in this posting, but let’s just focus on the top part about breakfast cereal. Per the author, cold breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or flakes or shreds. Individual grains passed through the extruder expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. These products are then subjected to sprays that give 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, biochemist Paul Stitt describes the extrusion process, which treats the grains with very high heat and pressure, and notes that the processing destroys much of their nutrients. It denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially damaged by the extrusion process. Even boxed cereals sold in health food stores are made using the extrusion process. They are made with the same kind of machines and mostly in the same factories. The only “advances” claimed in the extrusion process are those that will cut cost, regardless of how the process alters the nutrient content of the product. (You can also learn about food extrusion here).
With so many millions of boxes of cereal sold each year, one would expect to see published studies showing the effects of these cereals on animals and humans. But breakfast cereals are a multi-billion dollar industry that has created huge fortunes for a few people. A box of cereal containing a penny’s worth of grain sells for four or five dollars in the grocery store–there is probably no other product on earth with such a large profit margin. These profits have paid for lobbying efforts and journal sponsorships that have effectively kept any research about extruded grains out of the scientific literature and convinced government officials that there is no difference between a natural grain of wheat and a grain that has been altered by the extrusion process.
Okay this sounds not so Gr-r-reat. If breakfast cereal is out, what are the options? How about the following:
– Eggs, any style. Enough said!
– Porridge: Per the link above, old-fashioned porridges made from non-extruded grains provide excellent nourishment at an economical price. Grains such as oats should be cut or rolled and then soaked overnight in a warm, acidic medium to neutralize the many anti-nutrients naturally occurring in grains, such as irritating tannins, digestion-blocking enzyme inhibitors and mineral-blocking phytic acid. This treatment can also gently break down complex proteins in grains. Soak the grains in warm water plus one tablespoon of something acidic, like whey, yoghurt, lemon juice or vinegar. The next morning, the grain will cook in just a few minutes. It’s best to eat the porridge with butter or cream, like our grandparents did. The nutrients in the dairy fats are needed in order for you to absorb the nutrients in the grains. Without the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, you cannot absorb the minerals in your food. Furthermore, the fats in butter and cream slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, so that your blood sugar remains stable throughout the morning.
The Food Babe also has a great recipe here:http://foodbabe.com/2011/08/21/the-perfect-parfait-porridge/
– Smoothies: The options here are limited only by your imagination! I personally make a morning smoothie with almond milk, hemp protein (plant based = alkaline), coconut butter (good fats) and Amazing Grass green superfood powder (probiotics, enzymes, chlorella and spirulina). I included other recipes on our Pinterest Board (http://www.pinterest.com/wcubedorg/healthy-meal-recipes/). Doctor Oz also has recipes for many smoothies on his website: www.doctoroz.com.
In conclusion, it seems like it’s time to kick Count Chocula, Trix the Rabbit, and Tony the Tiger out of the house. Silly rabbit, Trix aren’t for kids of any age!