Dry Cereal Nutrition
Dry cereals are among the most common types of processed foods eaten today. Traditionally eaten for breakfast, these often sweet, colorful foods have made the transition into snack time and for some even lunch and dinner. While lots of manufacturers emphasize the nutritional content of their products, certain groups of consumers are beginning to look at these claims with a hint of skepticism. This blog examines the history of this type of food and offers a glimpse into its nutrition.
What’s the history behind dry cereal?
Dry cereal, in its earliest form was served in sanitariums. It was originally created by a man named Dr. James Caleb Jackson and consisted of tasteless graham flower and water. One of Dr. Jackson’s followers and founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church, a woman by the name of Ellen White, took Jackson’s idea and implemented it in her Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Mich. in 1866. 20 years later, White hired a man by the name of James Harvey Kellogg, who alongside his brother Will, improved on Jackson’s original recipe. After a disagreement between the two brothers, Will Kellogg left the institute and went on to form the company now known as The Kellogg Company. Several other cereal companies soon formed, all in the same basic area of Battle Creek. Their push to compete with one another eventually led to the types of cereal available on the market today.
What are the different kinds of dry cereal?
The variety in cereals available for purchase today is extensive. In its most basic form, it is made from grains. The most common types of cereal have a base of wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley, or rye. Most manufactures today have improved upon this basic formula. They add different colors, sweeteners, or other additives to enhance flavor and increase diversity.
What goes into the production of dry cereal?
This most common of breakfast foods has become almost unrecognizable from its earliest incarnation. Dr. Jackson and his followers were seeking to create a meal that provided a high amount of nutrition for their patients. Today’s version of this product is one of the most highly processed foods on the market today. In order to form the product into the shapes, people have come to expect it has to go through a process of high heat and pressurization known as extrusion. Because of this, much of the original nutrition of the grain is lost. Even worse, during extrusion protein structures are changed into unfamiliar chemical compounds that have as yet unknown effects on the body.
What are some additives to look for in dry cereal?
Processed foods are notorious for added chemicals. Dry cereals are some of the worst abusers of these additives. Artificial coloring has been linked to various conditions ranging from attention deficient hyperactivity disorder to cancer. This additive has no value in terms of nutrition, yet it is commonly used in this type of breakfast food, particularly products that are marketed towards children. Other common additives are butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT). These are preservatives used to increase shelve life and prevent loss of color and flavor. Once again, these additives have been linked to neurological disorders and cancers.
What are the healthiest choices in dry cereal?
As Americans are becoming more and more health conscious, the trend towards more nutritious dry cereals is coming back around. Brands like Kashi or Bare Naked are becoming more prevalent in the market. Even brands that don’t have the best reputation in terms of sugar content and additives like General Mills and Kellogg’s have come out with the more health conscious lines Cascadian Farms and Morningstar. However, the healthiest part of many of these brands may just be the picture on the box. A recent study performed by Unreal Eats demonstrated that so-called healthier options like Cheerios, Swiss Muesli and Raisin Bran contained as much as or sometimes double the amount of sugar compared with Fruity Pebbles. Additionally, because of the changes to proteins that occur during extrusion, brands with higher amounts of protein, like Kashi, may be even more unhealthy then their chemically laden counterparts.
With all of its various questionable elements, you have to wonder, not which types of cereal to eat but whether you should be eating cereal at all. Between harsh chemical additives and dangerous processing techniques, it has changed a lot from its original nutritious, albeit tasteless, form. Initially, this breakfast food was invented to provide a healthy, convenient start to the day. Competition and a shift in priorities have turned it into something else. People that grew up with this as a part of their breakfast might have a hard time adjusting to life without it.