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Articles Fitness Nutrition

What's Really In This: Kellogg's Smart Start Cereal

Jan 6, 2011
Let's take a look at Kellogg's® Smart Start® Strong Heart Maple & Brown Sugar cereal.  You are being smart like the box says by starting your day out right with "Lightly sweetened maple & brown sugar toasted oat bran flakes with crunchy oat clusters."  Sounds fabulous for breakfast or a snack - right?  The ingredient list reads like a science experiment on so many labels today especially in the cereal aisle at your favorite grocery store. 

Here is an example of Ingredients listed on what might be considered a healthy choice:
OAT BLEND (WHOLE OATS, OAT BRAN), RICE, SUGAR, MAPLE AND BROWN SUGAR FLAVORED OAT CLUSTERS (SUGAR, TOASTED OATS [ROLLED WHOLE OATS, SUGAR, CANOLA OIL WITH TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS, MOLASSES, HONEY, BHT FOR FRESHNESS, SOY LECITHIN], WHEAT FLAKES, CRISP RICE [RICE, SUGAR, MALT, SALT], CORN SYRUP, POLYDEXTROSE, HONEY, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CINNAMON, BHT FOR FRESHNESS, ARTIFICIAL VANILLA FLAVOR), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, MALT FLAVORING, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, BAKING SODA, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), NIACINAMIDE, ZINC OXIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN D, ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), BHT (PRESERVATIVE), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), BETA CAROTENE (A SOURCE OF VITAMIN A), FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12.

Allergens:  CONTAINS WHEAT AND SOY INGREDIENTS.

The first ingredients of whole oats and oat bran with rice sound pretty good until you start reading through the rest of the ingredients beginning with sugar which is needed to sweeten the cereal but you would think the High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup layered throughout the oats, oat bran and oat clusters would be enough. 

Here is where the science experiment comes in:
TBHQ - stands for 'tertiary butylhydroquinone' which is added to soybean oil to prevent the product from going rancid and it increases the shelf life of the product but it doesn't do anything for your shelf life.  The Journal of Drug Metabolism and Disposition reported a study in 2004 showing that TBHQ promoted growth of tumors.  Another study published in the Carcinogenesis Journal (1993) showed this ingredient to increase the growth of nodal and stomach papillomas (benign tumors) in rats who were given this special ingredient.
Citric Acid - is added to soybean oil to keep it fresh.

High Fructose Corn Syrup - is a combination of fructose and glucose that is used to make all sorts of food and beverages like bread, pastries, processed foods and soft drinks.  Companies use HFCS to sweeten their products because it is inexpensive, transports well during shipping and is very cost effective.  

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that U.S. consumption of HFCS went up 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990.  Many know that sugar feeds cancer cells, however studies have shown that fructose in HFCS makes cancer cells grow faster.  This is especially true when it comes to pancreatic cancer cells which divide and proliferate when exposed to fructose according to the Journal of Cancer Research.  

Natural and Artificial Flavors - these are obviously chemicals added to make the cereal taste good even though the United States Code of Federal Regulation lists natural flavors as real "essences" or "extracts."

Read the label of any cereal and if it lists any of the ingredients above, you are better off avoiding it altogether.  Our bodies are not built to digest these additives and preservatives and certainly not High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Stop relying on boxed cereals for a meal and choose whole-foods instead.  

Sherry L. Granader is a Sports Nutritionist, National Speaker and Spokesperson, Author of 2 healthy cookbooks, Writer, Ghost Writer, Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. She has shared the stage with such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, Suze Orman and the late Governor Ann Richards and served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK. She has cooked for her favorite bodybuilder, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and his family, shared her nutrition expertise with Chuck Norris on the set of his movie "Sidekicks" and appeared on 8-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney's Championship Workouts on ESPN. Sherry hosted her own "Healthy Living" show on PBS for several years. For more information on Sherry, visit www.sgfit.com or write to Sherry at sgfit12@aol.com.

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