The Nourisher - Editor’s Blog

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Puffed Grains and Breakfast Cereals, should we eat them?

By Sally Fallon

Let me tell you about two studies which were not published. The first was described by Paul Stitt who wrote about an experiment conducted by a cereal company in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients.

The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on water alone lived about a month. But the company’s own laboratory study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks—they died before the rats that got no food at all. It wasn’t a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.

Results like these suggested that there was something actually very toxic in the puffed wheat itself! Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes, which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.

Another unpublished experiment was carried out in the 1960s. Researchers at Ann Arbor University were given 18 laboratory rats. They were divided into three groups: one group received corn flakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the corn flakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water. The rats in the control group remained in good health throughout the experiment. The rats eating the box became lethargic and eventually died of malnutrition. But the rats receiving the corn flakes and water died before the rats that were eating the box! (The last corn flake rat died the day the first box rat died.) But before death, the corn flake rats developed schizophrenic behavior, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions. The startling conclusion of this study is that there was more nourishment in the box than there was in the corn flakes.

This experiment was actually designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny. The results were never published and similar studies have not been conducted.

Most of America eats this kind of cereal. In fact, the USDA is gloating over the fact that children today get the vast majority of their important nutrients from the nutrients added to these boxed cereals.

Cereals sold in the health food stores are made by the same method. It may come as a shock to you, but these whole grain extruded cereals are probably more dangerous than those sold in the supermarket, because they are higher in protein and it is the proteins in these cereals that are so denatured by this type of processing.

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Sally Fallon is founding president of the Weston A Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation with over 400 local chapters and 9000 members. She is also the founder of A Campaign for Real Milk, which has as its goal universal access to clean raw milk from pasture-fed animals. Author of the best-selling cookbook Nourishing Traditions and also of Eat Fat Lose Fat (Penguin), both with Mary G. Enig, Phd, Sally has a encyclopedic knowledge of modern nutritional science as well as ancient food ways. Her grasp on the work of Weston Price is breath taking and her passion for health freedom, inspiring. In each edition of Nourished Magazine Sally answers your questions about nutrition, health, food and medical politics. Send us an email with your question and we'll put it to her.

COMMENTS - 44 Responses

  1. 1. Becky Duncan
    Dec 21st, 2006 at 3:47 am

    If these studies were not published, how do you know about them? Is there any independent corroboration? This is really a question, not just a comment. I would really like to know.

  2. In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt tells us that the extrusion process used for these cereals destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. Her cites one of the articles mentioned here in that book.  The only reason he knows of it is he once worked for a Food Corp and found it in their files.
    For other information you can read Henry A. Schroeder, “Losses of Vitamins and Trace Minerals Resulting from Processing and Preservation of Foods,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1971

  3. So what should we eat for Breakfast? How about Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, etc?

  4. Damian,
    Irish Oatmeal, (coursely cut oat groats , soaked overnight before simmering in the morning with raisins), topped with fresh milk or cream is an excellent and nutritious mornign meal. My toddlers and I have this most mornings, and it is very filling yet easily digested.

  5. Oatmeal etc is fine as long as you soak them night over.
    Do not use too much sweetner.

    I eat lots of oatmeal- millet and rice porridge but mainly in the cold season.
    I eat them with fresh organic milk( can´t get raw here :-( ) honey and mayby some fruit.
    I like egg dishes in the morning as well.

  6. This is about some of Sally Fallon’s recipes in Nourishing Traditions. I am not having much luck with them and end up throwing a lot of good food away as a result. I just made her Banana Bread, p. 483 and it is just awful. Bake at least 1-1/2 hours, she says. Well I tried, but it was overdone on the outside and raw on the inside.

    The beet kvass was disgusting, and ended up on my compost pile. I’ve heard the same on various blogs about the Komucha being likewise, so I won’t even go there.

    I’ve baked and cooked for 40 years with the last 30 of them being with natural foods. What she does to baking is sad. If grains are that hard to digest, I’ll just take a food enzyme tablet. I can’t afford to keep throwing out perfectly good food that has been ruined by these recipes. I really had high hopes for this cookbook, but I think I’ll stick to my own tried and true recipes that turn out right every time and that my family enjoys.

    I kept saying to myself while baking this banana nut bread that it couldn’t possibly turn out, as it was breaking all the rules of good baking. It didn’t.

  7. 7. Katrina Armstrong
    Jun 20th, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    I was wondering about the extrusion process too. Maybe WAPF could do a fundraiser to raise money to replicate some of these studies. I think that might give them some more credibility.
    Same with the raw milk. We need some more recent studies to quote to compete with the oppsoing views. Even Sally admits that the critics often criticise the raw milk activists for using really old studies.
    When I told my husband about the extrusion process, he wanted to know where the evidence was and “unpublished studies” isn’t too convincing. Not that I don’t believe it, I do! I just think that more recent studies would give the credibility WAPF needs.

  8. MU Lee
    Banana bread was not a hit here either.

    What I do is that I use my old recipes on bread
    but I just let it rise loong time with buttermilk or yoghurt and less yeast.

    Panckes well I use my own recipe but use the tecnic; soak flour in the milk overnight- add eggs etc the next morning- makes wonderful pancakes.
    Baking is a difficult matter - I have found out that flours, ovens etc differ a lot from country to country.
    The american recipes don´t alwys work n my danish kitchen….

    When it comes to cakes.
    Well I eat cake 1 x a week I don´t bother with soaking since I use white spelt flour
    and the rest of the ingredients are good: butter, fresh eggs from my hens and honey or maplesirup.

    Things like beet kvass is really a personally taste- I don´t like it- but my friend do.

    I find the recipes for meat,salds, veggies etc the best in NT

  9. I have two opinions on this article. One is that this should be put on a article on Wikipedia. Another is that I think that the company responsible for this test should get in trouble for animal abuse.

  10. 10. Nathan Blish
    Mar 11th, 2008 at 4:48 am

    If cornflakes are bad for you, what about the other cereals likes raisin bran or captain crunch?
    I tried feeding only captain crunch cereal to my dog for a experiment, but he got sick and had to go to the vet.

  11. I’m going to do a post soon on breakfast ideas, but I’m just not sure if I should include this information or not, since it can’t be found anywhere else except through the Weston A. Price site. Like the commentor above said, this isn’t to say I don’t believe it, but I need to see something more than once before I feel confident including it on my blog.

    Also, there are a couple Kashi cereals that we like and the only ones I have let my family eat these days (one organic: Cinnamon Harvest, and one not organic: Oat Flakes and Wild Blueberry Clusters) - these are not soaked/fermented, but at least the ingredients are much better than typical breakfast cereals. When I called Kashi, they said these cereals are NOT extruded, but baked, and the only cereals they sell that are extruded are ones that have little shapes. Yet in the above post, Sally says that ANY cereal that comes in a box is extruded…

    Yes, these Kashi cereals are still “processed” food that comes in a box, but I just wonder if they could at least be on the “compromise foods” list and not the “harmful foods” list?!

    Does anyone have any insight? Maybe I’ll try to e-mail Sally.

  12. Kelly, I can’t see where it is written in the article above that “ANY cereal that comes in a box is extruded”. I’m sure Sally would agree with you that the baked cereals aren’t as bad as the extruded cereals but they still compromise the digestion in that they haven’t been soaked and therefore they are still full of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid which, if left untreated, can combine with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This can then lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss. Surely you want your children to have strong bones and good mineral absorption? It’s not hard to give up packaged cereals by replacing them with nutritious breakfasts such as oatmeal and other types of soaked porridges (millet, amaranth, etc), pancakes, eggs, rice, sourdough toast, smoothies, etc.

  13. Further comment about extruded grains from Sally Fallon: “Anything that goes through a hole is extruded. In talking about the breakfast cereals, we really should say “high pressure, high temperature extrusion.” This is the process that damages the proteins in grains. Lots of things are formed by lower temp extrusion, such as pet food pellets, etc. Sally

  14. I think it was in Nourishing Traditions that I read where Sally had said, “Any cereal that comes in a box is extruded”.

    Of course I want my children to have strong bones and good mineral absorption, that’s why I would call these “compromise” foods, for those mornings when the kids are complaining about all the other good stuff I normally feed them and want something different. My stubborn teen will only eat eggs rarely now, because he says I’ve fed him too many that now he’s sick of them. (This is very frustrating, knowing how nutritious they are!) Sadly, only one of my four kids will eat oatmeal, so if they ate soaked millet or amaranth it would be a miracle. They all get sick of pancakes, waffles, toast, smoothies, etc., from time to time, but I vary it up as much as I can. I continue to muddle through, trying to do my best as a Mom!

    Kelly (www.kellythekitchenkop.com)

  15. I’m strongly against animal testing for any reason and there are many reasons why i’m against it. One being that rats and other animals are NOT human and so therefore we cannot generalize the findings of these unpublished articles to human beings. Humans and rats need different nutrients and we digest and metabolize foods in different ways. I believe that nutrients are lost in processed foods, that they contribute to many diseases and i try to avoid them when possible but i’m sure it is not as harmful to humans as it is to rats. Yet another great reason to stop animal testing- false information.

  16. Hi have jsut visited the Staes from Australia and had a cereal called fiberwise with a Kashi logo on it it was cinamon clustered cereal….can you help me with this unable to purchase only from a a place called melanleuca and not very helpful at all many thanks Jennifer

  17. 17. Tiffany Collins
    Jun 25th, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Hi, I’m wondering if soaked rolled oats are as good as soaked steel cut oats. Also, I have four kids and the older ones had a fit when I told them we weren’t eating cold cereal anymore. They don’t really like oatmeal or sprouted grain bread. I homeschool and haven’t relied on cold cereal too much, but there are days when the forethought and planning of truly nourishing food is nearly impossible. I’m trying to find out if there are any cereal brands ( ie. Barbara’s etc.) that are baked at lower temps. I absolutely love the amazing info in Nourishing Traditions. But, I agree that the recipes don’t turn out very well. I’ve been using the principles and recipe ideas for a couple of months now . I’m not much of a recipe follower anyway, I like to do my own thing. My husband has reported feeling much healthier since he began eating porridge in the morning though. I also got the kick in the butt that I needed to ban candy and other health robbing foods. Thank, Tiffany

  18. 18. Larina Hintze
    Jul 12th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Why is everyone so afraid to eat raw foods? Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious. We don’t need bread, banana bread or otherwise. How about frozen bananas blended! It makes awesome, sweet, yummy treats. Or Fresh squeezed oj into little cubes. There are thousands (literally) of recipes that don’t require starches. Why are we so obsessed with finding healthy bread? Maybe we don’t need it and should just avoid it. Spelt is a good supplement and there is a great spelt cookie recipe. Try for some Vegan recipes they know how to bake with fruit juices, fresh maple, cane sugar, and spelt and it does actually taste great. But again do we need cookies to be healthy - no…. Not the banana bread either so if we don’t NEED it then just make something you like and eat it in moderation.

  19. Bananas are starches, aren’t they not?

  20. Except when they’re ripe and then they’re sugar ;-)

  21. Uh, in the second cited experiment, there is no such thing as “Ann Arbor University.” What exactly is the source for these unpublished studies? Paul Stitt isn’t exactly a reliable source. He’s holds no Ph.D., nor does he have a medical degree. Somehow he has witnessed magical things no one else has observed. Look, I don’t have much to live for these days, and I’m willing to prove the first study is BS if you’d like. I’m more than willing to eat puffed grains and water exclusively for three (or more) meals a day for two weeks to see if I die from insulin shock. I’ll even given Mr. Stitt’s assertion a head start as my family is prone to type 2 diabetes (although I do not have it). Anyone want to be a volunteer for one of the the other three groups? Can I get an unbiased observer in the Philadelphia area?

  22. In response to Comment #21
    I appreciate people doing their research - very important with so much information available. However, if research was done, there was a lot missed.

    First, there is an Ann Arbor University — it is the main campus of University of Michigan,
    Paul Stitt has a masters degree in biochemistry from University of Wisconsin- class of ‘69 and was founder of a $26 million company called “Natural Ovens of Manitowoc Bakery”, so he is no dummy!!! If we relied exclusively on medical doctors for our health, we would all be in serious trouble. Thanks to so many bright and honest people who share their knowledge and experience with us!

    Everyone has to be responsible for their own health and make their own choices - including their nutritional foods. I wish you all the best of health!

  23. you may all want to know that Kashi is owned by Kellogg and does contain extruded rice, unfermented soy, and the very ever present and suspicious ‘natural flavourings’

  24. 24. M. A. Stevens
    Jul 29th, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Please stop misinforming people about processed food products!

    There are very important researches on the health benefits of ready to eat breakfast cereals (mostly extruded). Such a random article on internet totally ignores these researches and misinforms the society! most probably because speculating is much easier than reading!

    Main difficulty here is access to those research papers since they are mostly published in scientific journals which need monthly wages to be accessed. At least i can give few name

    1. Galvin Ma, Kiely M, Flynn a. Impact of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal (RTEBC) consumption on adequacy of micronutrient intakes and compliance with dietary recommendations in Irish adults. Public health nutrition. 2003;6(4):351-63. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12795823.

    2. Albertson AM, Thompson D, Franko DL, et al. Consumption of breakfast cereal is associated with positive health outcomes: evidence from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.). 2008;28(11):744-52. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083483.

    3. Smith AP. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health. Sciences-New York. 2010;(782808658).

    cheers,
    M. A.

  25. Food For Life Ezekial Cereal is made from Organic Sprouted Wheat, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Filtered Water, Sea Salt.
    This is a fairly new cereal and may not have been around when Sally wrote this article.

    Another very good breakfast food is soup.

  26. “If we relied exclusively on medical doctors for our health, we would all be in serious trouble. ”

    Yes and relying on a “smart” person who makes statement about thing he’s seen and quotes studies without providing any proof to back his claims just a “believe me I know” is harmless? If this was so truthful and known to be fact by him he could have reproduced the study and backed his claims with fact instead of asking people to blindly follow him. That seems cult like to me….

  27. I called Enjoy Life the other day about their Cinnamon Crunch gluten-free “granola” and learned that the rice-flour in it is extruded.

    It was very good, but I’m glad I just had that little sample of it. I would honestly expect better from a healthfood company. I also learned that Nature’s Path “Mesa Sunrise” cereal is also high-temp extruded.

    I’m hoping that more people start calling companies about this, because as the organic products -movement grows (organics are often /higher/ in protein, the major component which may be capable of producing toxins during stream-extrusion) this is going to become /more/ of an issue, not less.

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