Add this to the ever growing list of ridiculous health claims from food manufacturers. General Mills, one of the breakfast cereal quartet (Post, Quaker, and Kellogg’s are the other 3), has published a press release:
Research presented today [...] revealed Cheerios can help lower cholesterol by 10 percent in one month.
The study, which was conducted and presented by Provident Clinical Research, found that eating two 1 1/2 cup servings of Cheerios daily, as part of a reduced calorie diet low in fat, lowered LDL or “bad” cholesterol about 10 percent in one month. Cheerios is the only leading ready-to-eat cereal clinically proven to lower cholesterol.
“We monitored the diets of study participants for 12 weeks, and a clinical evaluation of their cholesterol levels showed coupling Cheerios with a reduced calorie diet significantly helps lower LDL cholesterol levels,” said Kevin C. Maki, Ph.D. of Provident Clinical Research. “We were impressed with how effectively eating Cheerios daily as part of a reduced calorie diet lowered bad cholesterol. These are simple changes that are easy for most people to make.”
What you need to know:
Cheerios is definitely one of the better choices in the breakfast cereal category, as it is made from whole wheat and is very low in sugar.
But don’t buy into the marketing claims disguised as scientific research. Here is why:
1. The research was conducted by Provident Clinical Research, a for-profit institute that gets paid by General Mills and other manufacturers to design, implement, and analyze tests that will always shine a bright light on the product in question.
2. There is no mention of how the test was conducted, on whom, was there a control group, etc… How scientific could this test be if the information is not disclosed.
3. The subjects tested changed their diets not only by eating Cheerios twice a day, but by switching to a reduced calorie low fat diet. No doubt, dietitians helped these people make smart choices over the 12 week test period so that cholesterol would shoot down. But just how much did the Cheerios themselves contribute to the cholesterol reduction?
What to do at the supermarket:
Don’t base your purchasing choice on marketing hype and health claims that are worthless. In the cereal aisle, look for cereals made with whole grains and low amounts of sugar (less than 6 grams per serving). Cheerios definitely makes the grade, but not because of the silly paid-for science report they have brought to the public’s attention.
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