Special K Cereal: A Processed “Health Food” in Disguise

For many people, a healthy breakfast includes a big bowl of cereal in the shape of flakes or “O’s.” Dieters seem to swoon over Special K cereal due to its promise that consumers can lose weight by taking the “Special K challenge.”

Do me a favor. Take a peek at Special K’s nutrition information and tell me how many of those ingredients you actually recognize.

The Problem with Cereals

By the time your breakfast cereal hits the shelves, it has already gone through so many processing procedures that hardly any real nutritional value remains.

The first two ingredients in Special K cereal, rice and wheat gluten, provide most of the structure for those flakes you see pictured on the box. Have you ever seen rice in the shape of a flake before? I don’t think so. The abnormal shape indicates manufacturers put the food through a process called extrusion, which depletes a ton of the nutrients right out of the product.

Sally Fallon, the co-president of a nutrition education foundation, reveals more information on the food processing industry and how factories mess with our cereal products. Fallon’s post also includes the results of a scary study conducted on rats. The research indicates eating processed cereals in large quantities may actually cause serious harm to the human body.

Red Flag Ingredients

I’m sure you recognize the next ingredient in this “healthy” cereal: sugar. And following not too far behind? High-fructose corn syrup. These two diet-killers should always set off alarm bells when listed as some of the first few ingredients in processed foods.

After that, Kellogg’s might as well start listing off ingredients in a foreign language. Basically, the manufacturers threw in a bunch of vitamins with complicated names to artificially “enrich” the cereal and make it seem nutritious. One might ask, “And what’s so bad about that?”

If Granny Wouldn’t Approve, Don’t Eat It

Michael Pollan, a journalism professor and the author of  “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” stressed the importance of kicking processed foods to the curb in an article called 7 Rules for Eating. His first rule: “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

Doesn’t this advice make sense? Why would you put substances into your body that shouldn’t exist in food in the first place? Especially things that sound like they belong in a science lab!

Don’t Let Them Fool You!

Call me crazy, but I’d take a hot serving of all-natural oatmeal with freshly cut strawberries over cold, nutrient-deprived cereal any day. Special K may seem healthier than the sugary cereals advertised toward kids, but always remember that “less sugar” or “lower in calories” does not translate to “healthy.”