Breakfast of champions?

I spend time every day educating or reminding patients that breakfast cereals are not health foods.

I see jaws drop in shock when I tell them that, in my opinion and despite the marketing claims, Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, and the like do not yield health benefits. In fact, they do the the opposite: dramatically raise blood sugar and trigger an adverse cascade of events that eventually leads to diabetes and heart disease.

Why the health claims in advertising? Because these products contain insoluble fiber, the sort that makes your bowels regular. Yes, your bowels are important to health, too. But the benefits end there.

Breakfast cereals are a highly refined, processed food that are not good for your plaque control program. What they are is a highly profitable, multi-billion dollar business, deeply entrenched in American culture ("They'rrrre grrrrrreat!"--Tony the Tiger; "There's a whole scoop of raisins in every box of Post Raisin Bran!" Bet you remember them all.)

I find it particularly upsetting when I see the stamp of approval from the American Heart Association on some products. Gee, if the Heart Association says it's good for you, it must be true! Don't you believe it. The American Heart Association relies on corporate donations, just like any other charity.

If you must eat breakfast cereals, refer to for a full database of glycemic indexes. You can look up a specific product and it will list its glycemic index, or sugar-releasing properties. You should try to keep glycemic index of the foods you choose below 50.

For a revealing discussion of the influence of food marketers on our perceptions of food, see Track Your Plaque nutrition expert, Gay Riley's discussion The Marketing of Food and Diets in America at her website,

Comments (1) -

  • Anonymous

    4/12/2006 8:07:00 PM |

    Dr. Davis,
    Your daily posts are very interesting with extremely valuable information.
    Thank you.