Breakfast Cereals Take a Step in the Right Direction

Susan Farley
Published Online: Friday, April 1, 2005

While General Mills'efforts to increase the amount of whole grains in its cereals is a positive effort to make its products more nutritious, consumers should be aware that this does not make these cereals healthful. In most cases, the cereals have the same whole-grain content as they did before, while many others have gained just 1 g of fiber. Interest in whole grains increased following the announcement of the FDA's new dietary guidelines recommending that half of a person's grain servings come from whole grains as a mode of increasing fiber content. Americans are consuming more refined grains, which have been stripped of vitamins, minerals, and fiber; cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals, but not fiber, an important component of healthful eating. Nutrition advocate Bonnie Liebman, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, warns, "It's important for people to realize that using whole grains in breakfast cereals does not turn them into health foods. Most are still breakfast candy, almost half sugar."A spokesperson for General Mills acknowledges that whole grain is not the same thing as fiber, but their cereals containing 8 to 16 g of whole grains are a good part of a balanced diet. The FDA guidelines recommend 28 g of fiber per day for women and 35 g per day for men; however, they have not established what qualifies as a good source of whole grain.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.

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