Breakfast cereals were born out of the vegetarian diet recommended by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to its members. The recognized pioneers of this industry, Dr. John H. Kellogg and Charles W. Post, were Adventists and development of their products was guided by religious beliefs as much as commercial interests. Part of their concept was to create something that was ready-to-eat. Most of the other grain recipes at that time required tedious preparation such as overnight soaking and long cooking times.
It’s quite ironic that the modern commercial breakfast cereal is so far removed from the health objectives that initially drove its invention. There were a few misconceptions that contributed to its downgrade. The growing use of refined flour, for example, was due to the misunderstood role of fiber in the digestion process back then. More sugar was also added when the products started to be marketed to children. Read further to know more about the negatives effects of cereals (and be sure to also check out the recommended soak times for beans, grains, legumes, nuts and rice.)
Risks of Cereals:
Most health experts say that breakfast cereals are a good choice for lowering the risk of hypertension. They are probably referring to whole grain cereals like oats or specialized cereals that have bran. The significant amounts of fiber in such meals provide the cardiovascular benefit. But there’s a huge difference between such cereals and the packaged ready-to-eat variety. The latter is really nothing but easily digestible starch and sugar.
A huge part of the problem is in the way they are made. To turn the grains into their familiar flake, loop or shredded shape, a food extrusion process is used. Basically the corn or wheat is ground, mixed with water, and then, with some heat and pressure applied, forced through a mold that sets the final shape. The high temperature and pressure involved basically strips away the grains’ nutrients. Beneficial unsaturated fatty acids and proteins like the amino acid lysine are dissolved and lost because the cellular structures that contain them are broken up by the machine. This would be a good thing if the said structures were being broken down in the intestines.
Breakfast cereal products for children contain the most sugar. Compare the nutritional information label of one such box of cereals with that of a box of cookies. You’ll likely see very little difference in the amounts of sugar. The official recommendation is not to consume products whose sugar content exceeds 25% of total calories. Thus something like Cookie Crisp Cereal is definitely not a healthy choice for breakfast as 44% of the product’s total calories come from sugar. You also need to be wary of anything that’s called “honey” or “honey-roasted”. Most of such products actually just use a combination of high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin.
Among the various types of commercial breakfast cereals, corn flakes are one of those commonly stocked in home cupboards. This is an unfortunate situation as most corn-based food these days is very likely made with genetically modified (GM) corn. About 85 % of corn produced in the US is GM and more than 75% of processed foods are made with GM ingredients.
There have been some animal studies that investigated the dangers of GMO corn. If one were to sum up the risks genetically modified organisms offer, it is that the long term health effects on humans are still actually undetermined. The supposedly rigorous research studies that pushed the approved use of GM ingredients were actually short-term in scope. Complicating the issue is the fact that there are no regulations that require food manufacturers to properly label products made from such ingredients.
The next post will move on to the fourth part of the Superhuman Food Pyramid – proteins. I’ll discuss which sources of protein to eat, moderate, and avoid in order to achieve your Superhuman health goals.
In the meantime, here is a complete listing of the grains and legumes on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
• Sprouted, Organic Quinoa, Amaranth Or Millet
• Sprouted Legumes (Beans & Lentils)
• Soaked Legumes (Beans & Lentils)
• Soaked, Organic Quinoa, Amaranth Or Millet
• Soaked & Sprouted Wheat Products
• GMO Corn
• Soy Nuts
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the negative effects of cereals, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the negative effects of cereals.