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Our corporations are lying to us, America. They sell us happiness and health, they deliver anything but, and they’re getting away with it. Why? Because in many cases they’ve paid politicians and “lobbied” bureaucrats to twist the rules to where it is legal to lie – or at least legal to hide the truth. You’ve probably seen commercials wherein GMO cereal king General Mills claims that “Cheerios, made from all grain natural oats, is the only leading cold cereal clinically proven to lower cholesterol.”
As soon as one looks at a box of Cheerios, it is hard to miss the lovely red heart that encases the cereal within it. Must be healthy for the heart, or maybe it will help you be more lovable, or find a date easier? Um, not so much…
In the top corner or across the top, there is the whole grain symbol.
In the bottom corner, and this is the most disturbing part, is a health check from the Heart & Stroke Foundation.
1. Cheerios may be “made from all grain natural oats”, but it also “made from” many other ingredients. The Cheerios website assures us that “All Cheerios cereal varieties have at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving”, but omits the fact that a “serving” is 28 grams:
And what’s in the other 20 grams?
In the USA “natural” has no regulated meaning with respect to food or food labels. Consequently, General Mills can legally refer to the oats in Cheerios as “natural” regardless of any genetically engineered origin. The truth is that General Mills “…continues to use genetically-modified (GM) ingredients in its cereal products, as well as corn syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial colorings – all of which wreak havoc on health…”
Depending on the marketing campaign, boxes will have various slogans like “Clinically proven to help reduce cholesterol“. This gets the average consumer convinced that this cereal must be healthy and is definitely a way to fight cholesterol. However, just a little research into how clinical studies are run, will quickly show that they can be made to conclude in favor of whatever product is being tested. In the end, remember one important health rule:
“Never believe anything on the front of the box.”
The opening sentence in General Mills press release reads “Research presented today at the Experimental Biology Meeting revealed Cheerios can help lower cholesterol by 10 percent in one month.” This is another cleverly-worded deception. General Mills doesn’t directly claim that “Cheerios can help lower cholesterol”, but rather states that was “revealed” by “research”.
How many of you who eat Cheerios or claim that it is healthy, have actually read the ingredients on it?
Most of us don’t. We run into grocery stores, and run out with our usual choices, that have usually been conditioned on us from commercials or years past. We seldom stop to think what it is really that we are putting into our bodies, and even less often actually read the ingredients – the most important part of any product (food or personal care, etc.).
Here are the ingredients for the Cheerios (based on a Canadian label):
According to Wikipedia, trisodium phosphate is a cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover and degreaser. And also according to Wikipedia, “It is generally considered to be a bad idea to ingest compounds that are sufficiently caustic to dissolve cell membranes.” You think? So what is this substance doing in your food?
In food, TSP is used as an acidity regulator (buffering agent), emulsifier, thickening agent, nutrition enlargement agent and sequestrant (metal-chelating agent). Although naturally according to the FDA, the TSP is GRAS (generally recognized as safe), I think common sense tells us chemicals like this should not be in our food period. It is one thing having adults eat this, but the common parent gives Cheerios with these chemicals, as a treat to their babies.
6. The calcium carbonate, is a common dietary source of calcium, which makes it sound fine, but more so it is used as a food preservative, color retainer, emulsifier, firming or bleaching agent.
7. Monoglycerides are single fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Basically, they are modified fats, which are used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil and water. According to VGR.org, the commercial source may be either animal (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable, and they may be synthetically made as well.
8. Tocopherols are a series of organic compounds consisting of various methylated phenols. They usually have vitamin E activity, and are mainly used to preserve food, especially oils from going rancid.
There is not much to say about wheat starch, so we will skip on to the last ingredient – annatto. This is a color additive, and is generally considered to be a natural one. Despite this, it is known in many cases as a food allergen.
Many people also think Cheerios are a healthy option because they are low in calories. However, the calories, should really not be our main concern unless we are on some strict diet.
The bigger issues to focus on are: is there any trans fat, saturated fat and sugar? How much? What is the sodium amount? If it is higher than the number of calories per serving, than it is a high sodium food, and should definitely not be eaten by someone with high blood pressure or at risk for it.
If you care about your heart and your health, it is time to get off the Cheerios bandwagon and start to look for some high quality nutrition, real food options. If you are concerned about your heart health, consider some real oatmeal and more importantly what your diet consists of the rest of the day.
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