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 which study you look at.)
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 this grain, 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 that initiates autoimmune diseases, 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. They dominate entire supermarket aisles, floor to ceiling, and generate some $11 billion in annual sales. Incredibly, the industry has even managed to persuade the public that breakfast cereals are an essential part of breakfast every day for good nutrition and weight management. They have also co-opted the science demonstrating that fibers from vegetables, fruit, legumes, and nuts can somehow be replaced by the inert bulk of cellulose through bran cereals for bowel health.
Breakfast cereals by definition, in all their various shapes, varieties, flavors, colors, and marketing angles, are all grains with optional sugar. It should therefore 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 light bulb 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, the Grainless Granola recipe in the Wheat Belly Cookbook, or the grain-free Classic Granola and Slow Toasted Flakes from Wheat-Free Market. No grains here!