Are there any HEALTHY breakfast cereals?
Simple answer: No.
Let’s consider the most common ingredients in breakfast cereals: wheat flour, corn, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar. In effect, they therefore contain sugar, sugar, sugar, and sugar. That ain’t good. It explains why the glycemic index of breakfast cereals are all exceptionally high, usually 70 and above. (Sucrose is 59-65, depending on the study you look at.) Breakfast cereals for kids, such as Apple Jacks and Corn Pops, can be as high as 25-37% sugar by weight.
How about those coarser cereals with whole grains like oats, millet, buckwheat, etc., such as muesli? Same issues. Followers of the Wheat Belly conversation understand that whole grains are wrongly called “low” glycemic index; they should really be called “less-high” glycemic index. If, for instance, a bowl of sugary cornflakes raises blood sugar from 90 mg/dl to 190 mg/dl, but a bowl of muesli raises blood sugar to 170 mg/dl–it’s not low, just less high. This is true even if there is no added sugar.
The wheat component of cereals, of course, carries all the excess baggage unique to wheat, including appetite stimulation by the gliadin protein via binding to the brain’s opiate receptors, direct small bowel destruction by wheat germ agglutinin, abnormal bowel permeability from gliadin, and unique allergens such as alpha amylase inhibitors and omega-gliadins.
Breakfast cereals are big business. They have come to dominate breakfast (and snacking) habits. Why else would they dominate an entire supermarket aisle, floor to ceiling, and generate some $11 billion in annual sales?
Breakfast cereals by definition, in all their various shapes, varieties, flavors, colors, and marketing angles, are all grains with optional sugar. As we have previously discussed, grains all represent various degrees of compromise in health. That’s why I call grains the food of the desperate or the ignorant.
It should come as no surprise that there is no such thing as a healthy breakfast cereal. After all, the whole notion of breakfast cereal originated with William and John Kellogg who, in the late 19th century, operated a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, where you would stay for a month or two and receive four enemas per day, along with three meals of gruel to “cure” your lumbago, rheumatism, or cancer. One day, while preparing gruel, William was called away, only to return hours later to find his gruel on the table, dry. Being frugal, he wondered if there was a way to salvage it; putting it through a roller, a lightbulb of inspiration went off: thus was flaked cereal invented. So the notion of breakfast cereal started with two men who believed that four enemas a day cured cancer.
For anyone missing the crunchiness of a breakfast “cereal” without the health issues, see the Coconut Almond “Granola” recipe here in this blog or the Grainless Granola recipe in the new Wheat Belly Cookbook. No grains here!