Is puffed wheat a whole grain is a question often asked by parents wanting to know what to feed their kids for breakfast. There is probably no other food that is subject to such lies and deception.
It is manufactured with techniques not dissimilar to making popcorn; high temperature is used and, to get a texture like flakes, the grains are extruded under high pressure; so far no real problems.
There are two ways in which manufacturers now ruin the whole grain; firstly what they add, and secondly what they remove.
With twice as many people dying from the diseases associated with obesity world-wide as starvation, medical scientists have found that the culprit in the main is not the fat in our food but the refined carbohydrate, and in particular sugar.
Whilst heart associations are recommending no more than about 7 teaspoons each day, weighing about 30 grams, the average American is consuming nearly half a cup.
Half a US cup of sugar weighs 100 g, which is 24 tsp, nearly four time the recommended amount. South Africans I am certain are matching that amount; obesity is equally a problem here.
In particular, about 20 percent of children are obese and, worse, nearly a half of them are in the extreme range once they reach the age of 12.
So, how much sugar is in your child's puffed wheat? The two worst companies are Kelloggs and Post making cereals that contain more than 50 percent by weight. Whilst they would obviously like you to enjoy large servings, the recommendation is 30g so that it appears that the sugar and calories are not excessive; in practice most folk have at least a half more than that.
And if you ate as much as shown on the packaging you would be having three times as much, or 90g according to researchers from Cardiff University.
Then we could go on about the oils and salt added. For example, Kellogg's crunchy nut oat granola, over and above the sugar, contains 5.4g of saturated fat in a portion, which is about a quarter of your daily limit.
To make matters worse, for me as a beekeeper, Kelloggs have played the name game, back and forth between calling their product sugar and honey smacks; the latter sounds more nutritious. But in fact, the cereal contains 16g of sugar in the small recommended serving size; over a half by weight.
Honey makes only a small part of the sugars and, once heated and processed, it is probably has little more virtue than sugar in any case.
There is a big fat lie in the milling industry; manufacturers are allowed to call their products whole grain provided they do not remove more than 40 percent of the goodies; the germ and the fibre, in most cases.
Arrowhead Mills makes one of the better cereals, but with all the fat, including the vitamin E removed it is extremely misleading to call it 100 percent whole grain.
True whole wheat contains some very nutritious polyunsaturated fat; all of it is removed with the germ in the manufacture of puffed wheat.
There are only two essential fatty acids which have to be ingested from our food, and both of them are to be found in 100 percent whole grain wheat; both are refined out of most of your puffed wheat cereals.
The react synergistically to an invading pathogen, one increasing the inflammatory response, and the second softening that reaction. Out of balance, when the omega-3 is deficient, leads to many chronic diseases.
Researchers have shown that even as a supplement wheat germ oil has an anti-atherosclerotic effect. It is likely to be more effective in 100 percent whole grain bread.
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Is puffed wheat a whole grain is a subject filled with controversies and big fat lies. No, it certainly is not in most cases. Wheat-bix is one of the exceptions to the rule; it contains all the oils.
The wheat grains, unlike many other cereals are not first refined to flour; they are simply cooked under pressure, crunched up in a mill, forced into a mould and baked further in an oven. Weetabix and it is called in some countries is indeed a whole grain. It is more like bulgur than the the many refined breakfast favourites.
But how much sugar does your child then add to it?
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