Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whole Grains: A Whole Big Mess

It is amazing to me that Cocoa Puffs (General Mills) advertises it is a whole grain cereal (in addition to their "Goodness Corner" boasting all of the health benefits of eating a bowl of sugar- RIDICULOUS!!!) . If you read the ingredients, whole grain is actually corn, which is most likely genetically modified, sprayed with dozens of pesticides, herbicides, and god knows what else. Do you want your kids waking up to a bowl of genetically modified corn? (And I haven't even gotten to the sugar or other ingredients)



INGREDIENTS

Whole Grain Corn, Sugar, Rice Bran and/or Canola Oil, Corn Meal, Corn Syrup, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Color Added, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Fructose, Trisodium Phosphate, Artificial Flavor. BHT Added to Preserve Freshness.

Lets break down the ingredient list:


WHOLE GRAIN CORN

According to Wikipedia, whole grain products can be identified by the ingredients list. Typically, if the ingredient lists "wholewheat," "wholemeal," or "whole corn" as the first ingredient, the product is a wholegrain food item. On the other hand, terms such as "enriched" and "bromated," among others, could indicate that the food lacks wholegrain.
"Wheat flour" (as opposed to "wholegrain wheat flour" or "wholewheat flour") as the first ingredient is not a clear indicator of the product's wholegrain content. If two ingredients are listed as grain products but only the second is listed as wholegrain, the entire product may contain between 1% and 49% whole grain. Many breads are colored brown (often with molasses or caramel color) and made to look like wholegrain, but are not. In addition, some food manufacturers make foods with whole-grain ingredients, but, because whole-grain ingredients are not the dominant ingredient, they are not wholegrain products. Contrary to popular belief, fiber is not indicative of wholegrains. The amount of fiber varies from grain to grain, and some products may have things like bran, peas, or other foods added to boost the fiber content.
In Canada, it is legal to advertise any food product as "wholewheat" with up to 70% of the germ removed. While the resulting product will contain the benefit of fiber in the nutritional information, it lacks the more recently-discovered health benefits of antioxidants found in the wheat germ. Canadian consumers can be assured of wholegrain products by a label stating 100% whole grain wholewheat.
(Original Source: Wikipedia: Whole Grain)
SUGAR
Sugar is sugar. See my previous post on sugar. It is #2 on the ingredient list, which means it is mostly refined (quickly absorbed) sugar.
RICE BRAN AND/OR CANOLA OIL
I love this one- when they do and/or on an ingredient list. To me that says "we ran out of rice bran and/or were too cheap to put good quality products in our food." Even though these two specific ingredients are healthy, I always stay away from and/or's. You should too.
CORN MEAL
More corn! According to Wikipedia: cornmeal is flour ground from dried maize or American corn. It is a common staple food, and is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies. (Original Source: Wikipedia: Cornmeal)
CORN SYRUP
Here's where we get to the good stuff (the bottom half of the list)... Wikapedia again: Corn syrup is a food syrup, which is made from the starch of maize and contains varying amounts of glucosemaltose and higher oligosaccharides (you need to look that one up...I can't even pronounce it), depending on the grade. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor. Corn syrup is distinct from high-fructose corn syrup, which is created when corn syrup undergoes enzymatic processing, producing a sweeter compound that contains higher levels of fructose. (Original Source: Wikipedia: Corn Syrup)
COCOA PRESSED WITH ALKALI
Dutch process chocolate, or Dutched chocolate is chocolate that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste compared to "natural cocoa" extracted with the Broma process. It forms the basis for much of modern chocolate, and is used in ice creamhot cocoa, and baking. Compared to other processes, Dutch process chocolate contains lower amounts of flavonols (antioxidants- VERY IMPORTANT IN FIGHTING CANCER / INFLAMMATION / FREE RADICALS). The effect this has on health is disputed. Professor Dr. Irmgard Bitsch of the Institut f√ľr Ern√§hrungswissenschaft, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen claims that the reduction of antioxidants due to the process is not significant and enough polyphenols and procyanids remain in the cocoa. (Original Source: Wikipedia: Dutch Process Chocolate
**I don't care what that one doctor says about what is considered "enough". I want as many naturally occurring anti-cancer molecules in my food as possible. 
COLOR ADDED
Umm, which one?
SALT
Ok.
TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE
Tricalcium phosphate can be primarily found in foods. According to Fitsugar.com, it is used in foods as a solidifying or anti-caking material, as an acid regulator and to boost the calcium amount the food or beverage. Tricalcium phosphate may most regularly be found as an ingredient in dairy products such as yogurt, as well as in carbonated beverages, powder based spices, candies and jelly. (Original Source: eHow.com)  
**I bet General Mills boasts it is "high in calcium" too. By the way...it is proven that regular exercise is a better way to build strong bones than ingesting calcium. Read: Want Strong Bones? Do Excersize.
FRUCTOSE
Sugar that naturally occurs in fruit, however in this case it is in its pure form. Just more sugar.
TRISODIUM PHOSPHATE
Trisodium phosphate (TSP, E339) is a cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover and degreaser. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water producing an alkaline solution. The item of commerce is often partially hydrated and may range from anhydrous trisodium phosphate, Na3PO4, to the dodecahydrate, Na3PO4·12H2O. Trisodium phosphate was at one time extensively used in formulations for a wide variety of consumer grade soaps and detergents, but ecological problems have largely ended that practice, at least in the western world. Substitutes are not as effective, but the raw chemical can be bought in bulk to add to underpowered detergents. (Original Source: Wikipedia: Trisodium Phosphate)
**WOW, I purchased this stuff from Amazon in its raw form to help clean my clothes better after reading an article about it (See article). On the package it said keep away from eyes, nose, mouth, and if I recall correctly skin. So WHY ON EARTH ARE THEY PUTTING ONE FORM OR ANOTHER OF IT IN KIDS CEREAL?!?!?!?!?!
ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR
Do you really want your kids eating artificial anything?
BHT (BUTYLATED BYDROXYTOLUENE)
Pronounce that I dare you. Here's what it is: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), also known as butylhydroxytoluene, is a lipophilic (fat-soluble) organic compound that is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid. (Original Source: Wikipedia: BHT)
**Yummy yummy! 

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU FEEDING YOUR KIDS?

Unfortunately this is the state of the food industry these days. Lets refine everything down to its individual components and then reconstitute it back into food products. Add in some vitamins that were lost along the way, slap some nutrition labels on it and call it a healthy day! You and only you can make the choice to be an informed eater. READ LABELS! EVERY ONE OF THEM (until you become familiar with the brands that are actually good for you).
Side note: I spent hours (probably close to 30 so far) reading labels of all different food products. There is only one cereal product that I found to be "healthy" so far. Barbara's Whole Wheat Cereal. And not all of them. So READ YOUR LABELS! 
RULE: There should be a maximum of 5 whole food ingredients in whatever you buy processed and you must be able to pronounce them and know what they are.

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