Think Cheerios lowers your cholesterol? You’ve had good reason to think so. You’ve seen it on the Cheerios boxes, the commercials, the website (if you’ve looked), and apparently, you could have heard it blasted to you over your “supermarket public address systems.”
Well, according to CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), the FDA has demanded “that General Mills halt its grossly exaggerated and misleading health claims for Cheerios cereal.”
What are the claims?
- Cheerios can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels by 4 percent in just 6 weeks
- Cheerios can ward off heart disease and cancers of the colon and stomach
These are pretty serious claims and General Mills doesn’t provide any evidence to back them up (the actor on the commercial definitely doesn’t count).
According to CSPI, the FDA does support a general claim that “eating diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber-containing fruit, vegetable, and grain products may reduce the risk of heart disease. But the claims for Cheerios portrayed the mentioned diseases not included in the FDA-authorized claim and failed to mention the importance of eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.” So General Mills ran with this just because Cheerios has some processed wheat in it.
This is a very strong move by the FDA, and if General Mills does not comply, Cheerios will be taken off the shelf and possibly taken to court. What products could be next? The CSPI legal director Bruce Silverglade explains, “the FDA is signaling the entire food industry that the Bush era policy of lax enforcement has come to an end. The FDA should also stop misleading claims for so-called ‘whole grain’ products that are mostly made with white flour and foods claimed to be made with fruit when they only contain trivial amounts of juice.” That is probably half of most grocery stores!
If you were looking to lower your cholesterol with Cheerios, don’t fret. There are several alternative treatments that have been proven to do the trick, including garlic, artichoke, and good ole vitamin B3. Check About.com: Alternative Medicine for more.