|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
Are Wheaties Hazardous to Your Health?
Of course not, but some people would have you believe otherwise. Wheaties cereal contains phytates. Dairy producers see soymilk as the new kid on the block, and they are running scared. Their strategy is to spread rumors about soy because it contains phytates. Perish the thought, phytates? Quick, induce vomiting. Call Poison Control. Where's the stomach pump? BREAFAST OF CHAMPTIONS? One bowl of cereal (portion size is defined on the side of a box of Wheaties) is equal to: 3/4 cup of cereal and 1/2 cup of milk. If the soy naysayers are correct, and if you enjoy a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast, that single portion of cereal will contain more than 2.5 times the amount of phytates as will the soymilk used to moisten that breakfast of champions. THE INTERNET SOY BASHERS Dr. Anthony Mercola writes: "Soybeans are high in phytic acid...It's a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals... Scientists are in general agreement that grain- and legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries. Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy- and grain-based diets prevents their absorption." Sally Fallon director of the Weston Price Foundation echoes Mercola's lack of wisdom (almost word for word): "Soybeans are also high in phytic acid or phytates....which blocks the uptake of essential minerals-calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc-in the intestinal tract. Scientists are in general agreement that grain and legume based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries. Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy and rice based diets prevents their absorption." A website registered in New Zealand offers similar disinformation. Soy Online Service (should be re-named Soy Offline Disservice). In a column titled "SoyToxins," they write: "There's plenty yet that you didn't know about soy! Soy contains several naturally occurring compounds that are toxic to humans and animals...soy toxins such as phytic acid...have the ability to target specific organs, cells and enzyme pathways and their effects can be devastating....As with any toxin there will be a dose at which negative effects are not observed. Soy Online Services have examined the scientific data on the soy toxins and have uncovered several alarming truths...There is no legislation to protect consumers from soy toxins in raw soy products...all soy products, no matter how well treated, contain low to moderate levels of soy toxins; processing cannot remove them all of any of them." Since soymilk is the bone of contention, I chose its phytate content to serve as a baseline for comparison to wheat products. Charts contained on pages 30-34 of Food Phytates (edited by Rukma Reddy and Shridhar Sathe, CRC Press, ISBN # 1-56676- 867-5) reveal: The percentage of phytates in soymilk is listed as 0.11%. Wheat has been called the "Staff of Life." Durham wheat contains 8 times more phytates than soymilk (0.88%). Whole wheat bread contains almost 4 times more phytates than soymilk (0.43%). Wheaties, contain nearly fourteen times more phytates than soymilk (1.52%). Let's use common logic here. If wheat contains more phytates than soymilk, then wheat should not be eaten either, right? What a silly claim soymilk detractors make. It is without merit. A typical portion of breakfast cereal consists of two ingredients, cereal & milk. The proportions: three-quarters of a cup of Wheaties weighs 22.5 grams. One-half cup of soymilk weighs 122.5 grams. Ergo, the wheaties contain 342 milligrams of phytates. The soymilk contains 135 milligrams of phytates. Now, let's get to the point of this. In their introduction and summary of the scientific substantiation to follow, the authors of Food Phytates write: "Recent investigations have focused on the beneficial effect of food phytates, based upon their strong mineral-chelating property...The beneficial effects include lowering of serum cholesterol and triglycerides and protection against certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, renal stone formation, and certain types of cancers." So you see, phytates are healthy for you. Phytates represent a prime example of using food for medicine. Of course, if you happen to believe all of the negative soy hype, skip the Wheaties. Skip the soymilk. You can always have a corn muffin, right? Let's go to the phytate chart. What percentage of corn bread is phytates? Oh, no. Corn muffins contain twelve times the percentage of phytates as soymilk, or 1.36%. An extra-large 6-ounce corn muffin (168 grams) contains 228 milligrams of phytates, midway between the (3/4 cup) Wheaties and (1/2 cup) soymilk. So, take your pick. All of this anti-phytate rhetoric is either A) serious stuff B) ridiculous propaganda.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dairy Education Board
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