Post cereals received praise from many in the gluten-free world by declaring some of their breakfast cereals gluten-free. This set many in the celiac and gluten-free community abuzz, celebrating Post’s “enlightenment.” Among the cereals declared gluten-free: Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles.
Let’s think this through: If there is an unhealthy component in a food, and we then remove just that component, does that mean that all that remains is healthy? After all traces of gluten have been removed (or are not added), here’s what remains in gluten-free Fruity Pebbles:
Rice, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut And Palm Kernel Oils), Salt, Contains Less Than 0.5% Of Natural And Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Yellow 6, Turmeric Oleoresin (Color), Blue 1, Yellow 5, Blue 2, BHA (To Help Protect Flavor).
So, gluten-free Fruity Pebbles contain a very high-glycemic index form of rice (i.e., pulverized rice), sugar, “trans” fats associated with numerous health problems, artificial flavors and colors, and butylated hydroxyanisole, a suspected carcinogen in the gastrointestinal tract. A 3/4-cup serving yields 23 grams total carbohydrates, zero grams fiber, for a total 23 grams of “net” or effective carbohydrates. (Note that Post has recently boasted about the reduction in sugar to 9 grams per 3/4-cup serving, but fails to note that the form of rice used raises blood sugar higher than table sugar, gram for gram.) And it’s not uncommon for kids to consume more than 3/4-cup.
In other words, it is plain awful—yet this is being marketed and served to growing children. Unfortunately, the list of garbage ingredients did not stop many in the celiac and gluten-free community from showering praise on Post and its new gluten awareness. The Celiac Awareness section of About.com, for instance, posted these comments:
“Post Foods earned kudos from those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity when it announced that it had made its popular Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereals gluten-free . . . Although most people think of Pebbles cereals as a kids’ product, I’ve known plenty of adults who like them. Gluten-free consumers can find Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles in most supermarkets.”
Other cereal manufacturers have also released gluten-free versions of their products. General Mills has a gluten-free Honey Nut Cheerios with these ingredients:
Whole grain oats, sugar, cornstarch, honey, brown sugar syrup, salt, tripotassium phosphate, canola oil, natural almond flavor, vitamin E.
A one-cup serving contains 30 grams total carbs, 3 grams fiber = 27 net grams carbs, of which 12 grams are sugar. While we all know that sugar raises blood sugar, so do whole grain oats, cornstarch, honey, and brown sugar syrup. Your child can therefore expect sky-high blood sugars by consuming this cereal, high insulin and insulin resistance, and growth in abdominal visceral fat. Gluten-free Honey Nut Cheerios also contains corn products; while corn does not contain the gliadin protein that causes celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance, corn-sourced ingredients such as cornstarch typically contain residues of the zein protein of corn that resembles the gliadin protein of wheat. For this reason, cornstarch can reactivate celiac disease and other forms of gluten-intolerance, even though it is labeled “gluten-free.”
My advice: Steer clear of the cereal aisle, gluten-free or not. There’s nothing there suitable for human consumption, including your children.