Cold breakfast cereals were one of the first "convenience foods" on the market. They also represent one of the most highly profitable sectors in the processed food industry. But is eating such cereals any better for you than eating the cardboard box in which they come?
One study in the 1960s fed cereal to one group of mice, and the shredded box to another group. The cereal-fed mice did not do as well as those dining on the boxboard.
The only way that the wave of cold cereals of questionable nutritional value could take over the first meal of the day was through an intense advertising campaign that has been bombarding us since the 1930s.
And sugar. Lots of sugar. And salt. And fat. All the not-so-secret ingredients of the processed food industry.
Over the past few years, thankfully, breakfast has been the meal that has morphed the most. Health-minded diners are looking at the first meal of the day differently. Cold breakfast cereal sales are down.
Processed food pushers are panicking, and scrambling to make their sugar-laden ingredients more palatable to shoppers that can no longer stand to wandering down surreal cereal aisles in grocery stores that consist of a whole wall of awful choices.
GMO ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup, high amounts of salt, saturated fat, and artificial additives are often lurking in cereal bowls. The extruding process that makes cold cereals uses heat and pressure that destroy most of the nutrients of the ingredients.
Nutrients need to be artificially introduced later in these industrial products in order to give them any value at all, besides increasing corporate profits. A few pennies worth of corn or wheat gets turned into a product that costs several dollars. Our health is certainly not profiting.
What we can profit from is making breakfast less bizarre and get back to real food. A first meal of the day that makes sense consists of whole foods that are nutrient dense. Choices include eggs, smoothies, juice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal or "porridge" and dairy foods, depending on what kind of diet you are on.
Cold cereals are crap. Even if they are organic. But if that is all you have in the cupboard right now, you could always throw the cereal in the compost and eat the box.