Is Cereal a Healthy Breakfast?

The evolution of cereal is fascinating. There is an entire aisle in a 10 aisle supermarket dedicated to nothing but cereal. People refer to “my” cereal like my mom watched “her” show. Cereal is personal, and Kellogg, the inventor of the mother cereal, the cornflake, had some interesting ideas about why we all needed to eat cereal.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the Director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan opening in 1866, welcoming guests from all walks of life, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Amelia Earhart, who may have been looking for a “health tune-up”. The San, as it was called, offered holistic spa treatments from medical doctors to mineral baths. Kellogg, a Seventh Day Adventist, promoted well-being through a multi-faceted approach that involved nutrition, digestion, exercise, cleanliness, bath soaks, surgical interventions, electrotherapeutics, massage therapists, bakers, waiters, mental well being and a host of other practices and guidelines to help people become healthier versions of themselves. Many beliefs of The Seventh Day Adventists became part of his practice including nutrition, spirituality, mental hygiene, community and social interaction and physical movement. One of the inventions of Kellogg was, indeed, the cornflake in 1894, designed to provide maximum nutrients in the blandest form possible for his patients at The San. Kellogg thought the consumption of bland food would decrease masturbation, which he thoroughly frowned upon. Kellogg referred to his lifestyle as biological living, insisting on daily exercise, plenty of fresh air and complete abstinence from sex, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. I’m not certain how he would have mankind stay in business to consume his cornflakes, but seemingly, enough people only followed some of what he recommended.

Kellogg, a vegetarian, consumed many grains and found himself creating the cornflake which is a pretty famous breakfast food found in most all westernized civilizations. He encouraged everyone to chew each bite of food 40 times. (I’m not sure how to pull that off with cornflakes, but i see where he was going. ) Kellogg had lots of great ideas, and others that were a bit extreme, but I think he had the right philosophy to combine many aspects of health to lessen disease.

Unfortunately, I think his cornflake idea has morphed into what he would have seen as debauchery. Comparing The San with todays environment, we have The San with live music, educational health lectures, enough baths to put the Roman Empire to shame, outdoor trails for walking and meditating, sporting fields, bakers, cooks, and a medical staff and today’s health practices where getting a doctors appointment can be dictated by insurance coverage, foods are highly processed and contain many unnatural preservatives and little nutrients, many of us sit and drive for the better part of our day and get very little exercise or exercise is forced (a gym treadmill versus walking to the store), and misinformation and sound bytes regarding health and fitness. Is the cornflake to blame for all of our healthcare woes? Definitely not, but in my opinion, the cornflake was one of the inventions from Kellogg would could have done without.

Why I’m Against the Cornflake…

Kelloggs Cornflakes Ingredients:

Ingredients: Corn (88%), sugar, salt, barley malt extract, vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

2g protein, 24 g carbs per 1 cup serving, and not much else. The vitamins are fortified – added back in, as they were stripped out in the manufacturing process.

The corn of today is definitely not the corn of 1888. I stay clear of corn whenever possible because of the increased potential of genetic modification and Round Up pesticide in the crops, intentionally or unintentionally. Corn, without modifications, contains omega 6 fatty acids, and that makes it an inflammatory food. And, highly processed forms of corn (which are everywhere) break down very rapidly in the gut, spiking blood sugars, wreaking havoc on persons who have diabetes or other blood sugar control issues. Lastly, we should get fiber from vegetable and fruits, not from refined grains.

Most other cereals are in the same boat with the cornflake, offering little nutrition with a lot of simple carbohydrates that spike blood sugars and typically are stored as fat, even the ones that label themselves as healthy. Poor Kellogg, giving him the benefit of the doubt, was beyond well-intentioned, but could not imagine the future offspring of the cornflake. The other products available from Kellogg’s today now include Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes (chocolate or with marshmallows , Frosted Mini Wheats, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies, Special K, Cereal Bars, Pop Tarts and more. None of these are good for you. None. In fact, quite the opposite. The chart below compares the main Kellogg products and a few other seemingly healthy cereal products. Most cereals, including the ones that tell you they are good for you are not the healthiest choices. Review the carbohydrates, sugars and fiber per serving as well as the ingredient list. If you must still choose cereal, avoid BHT, BTA, TBQH and choose cereals preserved with tocopherol (fancy name for vitamin E) The US allows food manufacturers to use these petroleum based and more harmful preservatives, and interestingly, Europe does not. Food manufactures have different recipes for exports to the EU. This is disgusting policy, in my opinion, and should be added to my list of why we should not eat processed cereals.

CerealProteinCarbsFatSugarFiber
Kelloggs
Frosted Flakes126010.5
Froot Loops2260.5103
Frosted mini Wheats (10 biscuits)7621158
Raisin Bran5471177
Rice Krispies229040
Special K7290.550.5
Cereal Bar – Blueberry2243123
Pop Tart2354.515.5
Other Manufacturers
Cheerios – General Mills320223
Puffins – Cinn – Barbara’s Bakery226115.5
Bob’s Red Mill Muesli423334

So, for obvious reason, I am against the cornflake, but taking one or two things from Kellogg, I invented my own cereal. I share most of his beliefs, but bland food treatment is one I definitely don’t wrap my head around – on several levels. This flavorful, nutrient dense cereal provides 11 g protein, 16 g carbs, 27g total fat 16 of which are omega 3’s, and 5 g fiber without any grain and hopefully no harmful ingredients (depending on the source of your berries and other ingredients). The total calories for this meal is 332 and chock full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, healthy fats and lots of flavor!

Nut and Berry Cereal

1/3 cup Walnuts, crushed

1T Flax Seed, ground

1T Hemp Seed

1 tsp coconut, shredded

1/3 cup blueberries

4 strawberries

4 oz Almond Milk