Many of us eat cereal for breakfast, and more than likely many of us grab a packet form the supermarket. Is it health? This article from ecowatch.com gives us some facts!

Cold cereals are an easy, convenient food. Many boast impressive health claims or try to promote the latest nutrition trend. But you may wonder whether these cereals are as healthy as they claim to be. This article takes a detailed look at breakfast cereals and […]

What is Breakfast Cereal?

Breakfast cereal is made from processed grains and often fortified with vitamins and minerals. It is commonly eaten with milk, yogurt, fruit or nuts (1).

Here’s how breakfast cereals are typically made:

  1. Processing. The grains are usually processed into fine flour and cooked.
  2. Mixing. The flour is then mixed with ingredients like sugar, cocoa, and water.
  3. Extrusion. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion, a high-temperature process that uses a machine to shape the cereal.
  4. Drying. Next, the cereal is dried.
  5. Shaping. Finally, the cereal is shaped into forms, such as balls, stars, loops or rectangles.

Breakfast cereals may also be puffed, flaked or shredded — or coated in chocolate or frosting before it is dried.

Summary

Breakfast cereal is made from refined grains, often by a process called extrusion. It is highly processed, with many ingredients added.

Loaded With Sugar and Refined Carbs

Added sugar may very well be the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

It contributes to several chronic diseases, and most people are eating way too much of it (2, 3, 4).

Notably, most of this sugar comes from processed foods — and breakfast cereals are among the most popular processed foods that are high in added sugars.

In fact, most cereals list sugar as the second or third ingredient.

Starting the day with a high-sugar breakfast cereal will spike your blood sugar and insulinlevels.

A few hours later, your blood sugar may crash, and your body will crave another high-carb meal or snack — potentially creating a vicious cycle of overeating (5).

Excess consumption of sugar may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (6, 7, 8).

Summary

Most breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar and refined grains. High sugar consumption is harmful and may increase your risk of several diseases.

Misleading Health Claims

Breakfast cereals are marketed as healthy.

Breakfast cereals are marketed as healthy — with boxes featuring health claims like “low-fat” and “whole-grain.” Yet, their first listed ingredients are often refined grains and sugar.

Small amounts of whole grains don’t make these products healthy.

However, studies show that these health claims are an effective way to mislead people into believing that these products are healthier (9, 10).

Summary

Breakfast cereals often have misleading health claims printed on the box — yet are filled with sugar and refined grains.

Often Marketed to Children

Food manufacturers specifically target children.

Companies use bright colors, cartoon characters, and action figures to attract children’s attention.

Unsurprisingly, this causes children to associate breakfast cereals with entertainment and fun.

This also affects taste preferences. Studies show that some children prefer the taste of foods that have popular cartoon characters on the packaging (11, 12).

Exposure to food marketing is even considered a risk factor for childhood obesity and other diet-related diseases (13).

These same products often have misleading health claims as well.

While the colors and cartoons make the products more appealing to children, the health claims make the parents feel better about buying such products for their kids.

Summary

Cereal manufacturers are experts at marketing — especially toward children. They use bright colors and popular cartoons to attract children’s attention, which studies show affects taste preferences.