Today we will take a quick look at the ingredients in my favorite cereal (about the only processed food in our house). I won't tell you the name of this cereal, but it's very popular, so you've probably had some yourself. I was surprised to see how long this list was:
|Whole Grain Oat flour ||primary ingredient|
|Corn flour ||adds a bit of flavor, nutrition and color|
|Whole Wheat flour||adds nutrients, color and structure to a product|
|Rice flour||thickening agent, also adds taste|
|Salt ||flavoring and preservative |
|Calcium carbonate ||calcium mineral supplement; it's what makes your water "hard" |
|Disodium phosphate ||keeps powders from caking; used in laxatives! |
|Reduced iron ||nutritional supplement for iron |
|Niacinamide ||B vitamin |
|Zinc oxide ||nutritional supplement for zinc |
|BHT ||Butylated hydroxytoluene - antioxidant to keep fats from going rancid |
|Yellow color 5 ||also called Tartrazine; a very commonly used food coloring |
|Yellow color 6 ||also called Sunset Yellow; an artificial coloring with an orange hue |
|Thisamin mononitrate ||B vitamin |
|Pyridoxine hydrochloride ||B vitamin |
|Riboflavin ||B vitamin |
|Folic Acid ||B vitamin |
|Cinnamon flavored adds ||a few more ingredients: |
|Cinnamon ||spice made from ground-up tree bark |
|Caramel Color ||coloring made by heat-treating sugars |
|Dextrin ||carbohydrate derived from starch; contributes flavour, colour and crispness |
|Red 40 ||petroleum derived food dye also called Allura Red AC |
|Blue 1 ||also known as Brilliant Blue FCF |
|Natural Flavors ||Our government says this about labeling food and natural flavors: the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose primary function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. |
There have been many other flavoring variations of this cereal, in addition to the basic formula. They include Cinnamon, Raisin, Honey Graham, Vanilla Yogurt Crunch, Chocolate Oat Crunch, Maple and Brown Sugar, Multigrain and Baked Apple. Of course, each contains a few (or a lot) more ingredients.
WHERE'S THE MATH?
Here it is. A new website called THE GOOD GUIDE is researching the contents of products and rating them on a variety of scales. This gives us a numerical value (MATH!) for comparing foods.
The cereal described above receives a 7.2 rating which places it near the very top in cereals. It's good at nutritional performance. Sadly it also contains a few food dyes that we could argue are unnecessary. Of course we haven't seen the cereal in its native color! These dyes are permitted here in the US, but are banned or being phased out in some other countries.
The Good Guide's very top rated cereal gets a score of 8.0. It contains:
|Ingredient ||Meaning |
|Organic puffed millet ||an edible grass seed commonly used in bean bags, hacky sacks, pillows and bird feed |
Frankly, that doesn't sound very tasty to me! But people have been eating it for more than 10,000 years. We now harvest more than 30 million tons of millet a year - the largest producers being India, Nigeria, Niger and China.
The nutritional value of millet is similar to wheat, with about 11% protein. Dough made from millet won't rise, so it's used for flat breads or mixed with other grains.
People used to say "Mikey will eat anything" but I'm not sure he'll eat puffed millet ...