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Whole Grain Cereals Magnify "Food Chaos."

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While the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee never discussed sugary cereals, Consumer Reports recently analyzed 27 breakfast cereals marketed to children. “We weren’t surprised that we found sugar,” said Gayle Williams, deputy health editor, “I think we knew sugar was there, but I think we were surprised that we found so much sugar in so many cereals.”

This latest report does not surprise child obesity experts like Marlene Schwartz, deputy director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. “We found that kids’ cereal were worse on every account.” “The question to the industry would be,” she said: 

“Why are you taking your most nutritionally poor product and marketing it to children?” 

As an example, by weight, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Post’s Golden Crisp are more than 40 percent sugar. Kellogg’s Froot Loops and General Mill’s Cookie Crisp are 40 percent sugar. Most children (and adults) eat more than a single serving.  

And what else are they pouring? As an example, Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries, Lucky Charms, and Froot Loops all contain four (4) synthetic food colors and plenty of questionable health claims – especially about calcium. On the Lucky Charms box, General Mills says, “Every serving of this cereal is a good source of calcium kids need.” But what about the corn syrup, four food colors, and 11 grams of sugar?

The emphasis on calcium in food fortification may be adversely affecting magnesium levels. Calcium and magnesium have both an antagonistic and complementary relationship. Magnesium “controls” calcium and the other mineral electrolytes. Adding cheap calcium to sugary breakfast cereals may be overloading young bodies with calcium - adversely affecting magnesium levels.   

Even the colorful boxes may be dangerous! In February 2009, German and Belgian authorities said a chemical used in the printing inks (4-methylbenzophenone) of cereal box packaging may be migrating through the box contaminating the cereal. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), some cereals (not named) were contaminated with the chemical, which is likely to cause cancer.

According to EFSA, some countries recalled cereals from the market and a further investigation is underway. “Only in the highest exposure scenario considered — regular consumption of products contaminated at the highest levels reported so far — could some children possibly be at risk,” said Riitta Maijala, EFSA’s Director of Risk Assessment.

In the U.S., over 90 percent of all households report that they are eating dry boxed breakfast cereals on a daily or regular basis. Extruded at high temperatures and high pressure, highly processed boxed cereals contain more than just colorful, potentially dangerous packaging and empty calorie sugars. The extrusion process itself damages food components such as the fatty acids and proteins.

Because whole grains contain more protein than refined grain, whole grain cereals contain the most denatured proteins and magnify what has been referred to as “food chaos.” Eaten daily, these highly processed dry boxed cereals put upward pressure on blood sugar. Almost all boxed cereals raise blood sugar rapidly; best selling Cheerios is “high glycemic, with a G.I. rating of 74.

Following U.S. government low fat Dietary Guidelines, high glycemic breakfast cereals and breakfast pastries are served to 31 million children in schools across the country. In all age groups, the incidence of obesity and type II diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years.

Elevated blood sugar and high insulin levels are affecting millions of baby boomers who are increasingly at risk for Metabolic Syndrome, also called diabetes-related heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is already affecting tens of millions in the U.S. and is leading to widespread heart failure, now the #1 Medicare expenditure.

For breakfast, it’s time to return to nutrient-dense, protein-rich eggs. Better get crackin!

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