Diet Department. That Breakfast Cereal

That Breakfast Cereal

Has an Important Part in the Dietary Regimen of Every Individual.

BY ETHEL HEABERLIN, B.S.

Foods and Diet Editor

 

 

                Have you been shivering while you waited for a car on frosty mornings? Perhaps that cup of coffee and the morning newspaper hasn’t inspired you to sing “America the Beautiful” while you wait. Breakfast often determines the mood of our day and certainly a steaming bowl of hot cereal would warm the cockles of our morning hearts and help carry a smile all afternoon at the office.

Bread or cereals, basic members of our diet, are, with the exception of meat and fruits, the oldest and most universal foods. Ceres, the Roman goddess of cereals and harvests, must often smile reminiscently as she listens to Pop-eye the Sailor-Man’s chants over the ether waves. Centuries ago, our ancestors made bread from coarsely crushed meal mixed with water and baked on the open hearth, and chanted to Ceres for her bounty at harvest time.

Cereals are the hard kernels or fruits of certain plants of the grass family. No one cereal surpasses another in its nutritional value. Wheat has always made the most popular flour for bread because of its superior texture and flavor but wheat has not always been available and in its place rye, barley, corn, oats, rice, peas, beans, and even peanuts have been used. Since the general composition of cereals is chiefly carbohydrates, cereals in the diet should be supplemented by foods rich in protein and fats. The use of butter on bread and milk with cereal demonstrates the empirical knowledge of this need.

Whole cereals are fairly rich in minerals but since these are found chiefly in the outer layers and in the germ, the miller discards these valuable portions of the grain. A striking differences in mineral content between cornflakes with its 0.018 grams calcium, 0.190 grams phosphorus, and 0.00278 grams iron per 3 ½ cups and bran, unwashed, with its 0.120 grams calcium, 1.2115 grams phosphorus, and 0.00852 gram iron per 2 cups is illustrative.

Even though whole grains may be sources of minerals, finely milled grains may be used in the diet for variety if fruits and vegetables are added to furnish mineral content.

With advancing civilization, man has gradually changed his diet to include more refined and more concentrated foods: the hull of grains, the rough native fruits and vegetables no longer make up a part of his meals. Because the stimulus favoring the best functional activity of the large intestine and proper, regular evacuation comes from a large semi-solid bowel content, it is wrong not to include in the diet, foods whose residue contains much cellulose. Bran is an example of breakfast cereal which may be used to give this bulk or cellulose. However, bran, toasted or otherwise treated, in plain or fancy packages, has been over-commercialized. Advertisers have forgotten, in their enthusiasm, that some individuals may have great discomfort from bulky foods due to irritation of the colon. For these persons, a smooth, non-irritating diet with the addition of agar would be more satisfactory.

The vitamin content of cereals also suffers in the milling process. Whole grains are rich and cheap sources of Vitamin B—the vitamin needed for pep and general health. Those cereal products made from the starchy portions of the grain lost their vitamin value in the outer coats and tiny germ discarded in the refining process.

Of the widely used cereals today, a brief summary here of their respective values will aid in wise selection. Barley water, made from the flour, and used in feeding infants and the sick. Contains little nourishment but has a soothing influence on the mucous membranes. Corn, contains higher percentage of oil than the other cereals except oats. There is little difference in nutritive value between white and yellow corn. Wheat is the most generally used cereal because of its adaptation to bread making and when used as a whole grain, it furnishes vitamins and minerals. Rye is similar to wheat. Rice in its refined form furnishes no minerals nor vitamins. Oatmeal loses less between the field and the table than the other cereals and deserves almost daily use.

Homo Sapiens, as he stands on the top of civilization’s pyramid, would do wisely to start off his day with an open mind and obtain both the best physical substance and psychic temperament derived from a well-arranged breakfast. This breakfast would include a fruit, cereal (preferably cooked as oatmeal) bacon or eggs, toast, and a beverage.